Case studies

Italy 

Strengths

With the Ministerial Decree 797 of 19 October 2016, the National Training Plan for teaching staff was adopted for the 2016-2019 three-year period. The document represents an institutional framework of in-service training; it defines priorities and financial resources, and a coherent system of interventions for training and professional development. The NTP aims to promote connections between national priorities, schools’ training projects and teachers’ professional needs. It includes: 

  • Professional curriculum;
  • Individual Educational story;
  • Planning, documentation and reflexivity on didactic activities; 
  • Individual project and individual development.

Since 2015, according to the law 107/2015 of Italian Ministry of Education (known as La Buona Scuola) it was defined an overall structured plan to improve the ICT integration defined as Piano Nazionale Scuola Digitale (National Digital School Plan - PNSD; 2015). PNSD is a project of the Ministry of Education, University and Research for the launch of an overall strategy of innovation of the Italian school and for a new positioning of its educational system in the digital era. The PNSD is composed by four basic steps: 

  • tools 
  • skills, contents 
  • training 
  • accompaniment.

Weaknesses

The data from the OECD TALIS 2013 survey sees Italy in first place for training needs ICT of their teachers: at least 36% have in fact declared not to be sufficiently prepared for digital teaching, compared with an average of 17%. Italy is also the first OECD country, with distance from others, per percentage of teachers over 50 years – the 62%, compared to an OECD average of 35% in secondary school (Source: OECD Education, 2014). Thus, the integration of ICT in Italian teacher education programs is a key point for the Italian Ministry of Education for a long time. Programs to address the need for ICT integration have had a not-structured diffusion until recent times, basically following the impulse of local, national and European projects.

Opportunities

Status, roles, competences, qualification requirements for teacher educators of FIT (Formazione Iniziale e Tirocinio; English translation: Starting Education and Active Training) courses are the following: a) 1st and 2nd level professors, tenured researchers, fixed - term researchers (holders of contracts stipulated pursuant to article 24 of 30/12/2010 n.240) and ordinary assistants of the role to exhaustion, belonging to the scientific-disciplinary sector of reference of teaching or a similar field, in service at the Italian Universities"; b) subjects who hold a position similar to the one indicated above at foreign universities or international. The formal training courses are of two typologies: 

  • TFA (Tirocinio Attivo Formativo; English translation: Active Educational Training);
  • FIT (Formazione Iniziale e Tirocinio; English translation: Starting Education and Active Training) – for secondary school’s candidate teachers.

The TFA was defined by the Ministerial Decree n. 249 of 10 September 2010 as a path for the initial training of teaching staff. To obtain teaching qualification, the decree provides for the activation at the Academic Institution of a specific university course the TFA - Active Training Internship (1500 hours, 60 CFU). At the end of the course, the teaching qualification exam is held. The TFA courses are limited (with access tests) and the places available for each competition class are established at the regional level each year. They expect to pass three tests:  preliminary test prepared at the national level (DM No. 312/2014 and DM n.487 / 2014); a written test and oral test by the Academic Institutions (DM No. 312/2014).

Another specific context of integration of creativity support and ICT use is offered by Italians Digital Museums.  A number of museums offer didactics for primary school and children based on the use of new technologies. On the contrary, they do not offer projects or activities for teacher educators, but only for a direct target, such as school children. 

A specific remark at national level is to the INDIRE (the national institution of documentation, innovation and educational research) actions. INDIRE has allowed the birth of the Italian avant-garde educational network (Avanguardie Educative), which aims to codify and systematize the heritage of educational innovation and methodological experiment in schools. The online training environment for teachers in the year of training is designed and implemented in collaboration with the General Directorate for Scholastic Staff of the Ministry of Education. The digital platform will accompany in the 2016/17 the entry in the role of about 25 thousand teachers distributed in the various regions. At the teachers' disposal, also online discussion forums for the exchange of materials and experiences. The online environment also allows guided access to a variety of educational materials that any teacher can immediately use. And again, the text guides to all the activities of the online environment, guidelines and models derived from regional, national and international experiences.

Threats

The biggest threats come from the TE's negative attitude towards training and the resistance to training on ICT. Furthermore, there is an inadequate infrastructure preventing the development of ICT in education. 

Greece

Strengths 

Creativity appears to be high-valued in one of the most cited educational policy texts issued by the Greek state, since the middle 80’s. It is specially referred to as of the overall aim of primary and secondary education: “to promote overall harmonious and balanced development of students’ mental and psychosomatic potential, so that they become complete personalities and live creatively” (Sarakinioti & Tsatsaroni, 2015)In 2016, the emphasis on creativity was clearly stated in another official text through which the Greek Ministry of Education institutionalises the use of the so-called “creative projects” as one of the required assignments for high-school graduation. As for digital technologies, a large number of teachers have been trained to use them in teaching. The institutionalised portals of the Greek Ministry of education contain thousands of original artefacts called 'micro-experiments'  with which students can experiment and dynamically manipulate some simulation or problem embedding mathematical and other concepts. Thus, these artefacts can be used as resources for teachers, to be creative, designing their own educational material (Kynigos, 2017). Researches have shown cases of original school practices where the use of these resources might underpin creative design for teaching and have fostered students, through creative activity to make new meaning around mathematical concepts (Papadopoulos, et al., 2016; Diamantidis et al, 2015). Higher education institutions that conduct programs of PD have the authority to provide affirmations that one has attended these programs. These affirmations gain currency and prestige among the teachers’ community which can take effect as a motive for teachers to attend these programs.

In relation to recent educational policy initiatives for ITE and CPD: as of the school year 2010-2011, Law 3848/2010 came into force establishing the acquisition of a pedagogical training certificate for secondary teachers. The most recent policy document concerned with the establishment of the certificate was released in May 2016 by the Educational Committee of the Greek Parliament (White paper, 2016). The document emphasizes among others the need to educate prospective and in-service teachers for effective use of new technologies in teaching and learning practice and provide recommendations to ITE and CPD providers on how to achieve this goal. 

Weaknesses 

There are some drawbacks regarding the implementation of ICT’s use in the classroom that leaves their mark in teacher education: There is a lack of devices in schools. The pc-lab in schools is not available very often, because of the complexity of the school program. There is also a prohibition for teachers and students to use mobile devices with them in school. All these obstacles create a framework where many teachers speak of the use of ICT in the classroom, as a context that cannot be easily implemented.

Many PD programs are based on the voluntary involvement of teachers. Thus, it is sometimes hard for teacher educators to ensure the participation of a large number of trainees. This barrier is even more apparent in the cases of in-service teachers, where the institution conducting the PD program is not systemically linked to a School or a structure of primary or secondary education.

From the perspective of how policy mediators (teacher training institutions and providers) implement educational policy reforms towards enhancing teachers digital competences and digital creativity: the regulatory framework for secondary teachers’ training programmers has been very recently established and at the moment there is uncertainty on how the different universities and other institutions have started to and will respond to the new law on teachers’ professional development and initial teacher training. 

Opportunities

According to EC/EACEA/Eurydice (2015) report incentives and supporting measures to encourage teachers of general lower secondary education to take part in CPD according to central regulations include free courses offered; one-off financial allowances paid to teachers; travel expenses covered teachers get paid study leave. 

The last two years, the State seems to give a boost to the PD programs on teachers’ education in the use of ICT in teaching.

Universities have adopted a crucial role in this procedure. Also, regional educational structures like schools and PEKs are currently implementing training activities under the supervision of the Greek Ministry of Education and the support of CTI Diophantus on the area “Introductory and continuous training for exploitation of ICT in didactic practice”.

The next two year it seems that “creativity” will be the main theme of discussion, reflection and a framework of action in Greek High Schools, taking in consideration that the assessment of students will be documented by students “creative projects”. Teachers in Greece are in quest of ways to identify creativity on students work, and how to support them in making creative projects.

During the school year 2016-17 the “creative projects” were widely implemented in High-School for the first time. In 2017, the Greek Institute of Educational Policy evaluated this implementation, highlighting their positive effect in school communities, while pointing out the importance of ICT in the actualization of the pedagogical aims of these projects. In the same time, the Institute of Educational Policy stressed the need for teacher’s education on how to carry out these projects in the classroom.

Threats

There is a low budget invested in conducting in-service training for teachers. However, this drawback may be balanced by the need for training. There has been no recruitment of teachers in Greece since 2009 (except for a small number of secondary school teachers, recently). Thus, the introductory training of teachers has stopped being held. A large number of deputy teachers are hired each year. However, their unstable working status makes it difficult for them to attend a long term CPD course, since they are not working every year in the same school, not even in the same region of Greece.

According to the EU/OECD (2010) report based on TALIS 2008 survey, main barriers for teachers’ participation in CPD are:  Lack of time to attend (57%), insufficient information (39%), and the limited number of teachers accepted (36%), and the costs of training (36%) were the most often reported barriers for undertaking (more) professional development. Other reported reasons were difficulties with school/service (11%) and other reasons (3%); 21% of the teachers in the sample mentioned that they did not face any barriers. 

Spain

Strengths

University lecturers such as ITEs are not subject to any requirement regarding their ICT competence by law (Carrera Farrán & Coiduras Rodríguez, 2011). Moreover, no explicit reference to creativity can be found in National level curriculum of the degrees in which ITEs teach. We can find, though, learning outcomes about ICT. One of the 12 objectives of the curriculum for the degree in preschool teaching is “Understand the educational implications of ICT and of television in particular in early infant years” (Gobierno de España, 2007). For primary school teachers, we can find the goal to “Understand and apply ICT in the classroom. Select audiovisual information which contributes to learning, civic education and cultural richness” among the 12 learning objectives of the whole degree (Gobierno de España, 2007). The master's degree to become a secondary school teacher includes as a learning goal to "Search, obtain, process, and communicate information (aural, printed, audiovisual, digital or multimedia), transform it into knowledge and apply it in teaching-learning processes" (ORDEN ECI/3858/2007, de 27 de diciembre). 

Since the National level legislation does not elaborate on those learning goals, the curricula of each university should be examined in order to find out about the particular use of ICT to support creative processes. Studies covering the whole country are not found. The most comprehensive data available refer to Catalonia. This is the third most populated autonomous region of Spain with 7.5 million citizens. An analysis of the curricula of nine Catalan universities reveals that the most used descriptor within digital competence for teaching in the curriculums of ITE programmes for preschool and primary education is “Using ICT as resources and teaching strategies in teaching and learning processes” (Sánchez, Alonso, Camacho & Estebanell, 2017). Considering the definition of digital creativity given in DoCENT, there is room for teaching how to use ICT for fostering creativity as it could fit in this descriptor. 

Weaknesses

The definition and contents of what is known as digital competence for teaching are different across ITE programs from Spanish universities (Sánchez, Alonso, Camacho & Estebanell, 2017). The reason for this is the change from a college degree to a full university degree in the early 2000s. In the old model, national level legislation requested each ITE programme to teach a compulsory course called “New technologies applied to education”. After ITE became a full university degree, decisions about how to teach digital competence for teaching are made at a university level. 

This non-regulatory approach has degraded the training that preservice teachers receive in ICT (Sancho, Bosco, Alonso & Sánchez, 2015; Gutiérrez Martín, Palacios Picos & Torredo Ejido, 2010). Other authors have found an obstacle to the integration of ICT in ITE in the very fact that in Spain, ITE is taught at the university, which is an educational institution traditionally resistant to change (Gutiérrez Martín, Palacios Picos, Torredo Ejido, 2010). 

Opportunities

Although Spanish legislation does not define the digital competence of ITEs, this topic seems to be of high interest among educational researchers. ICT is considered a basic competence in Spanish programmes for teaching quality assessment (Sancho, Bosco, Alonso & Sánchez, 2015). Durán Cuartero, Gutiérrez Porlán & Prendes Espinosa (2016) review competence models focussing on the ICT skills of university lecturers. They find two types of competences, namely general for the citizen of the 21st century and specific, i.e. relating to the teaching profession. Among the second ones, technical and communicational uses of ICT are predominant. 

Carrera Farrán & Coiduras Rodríguez (2011) make a detailed proposal for university lecturers’ digital competence. Cejas-León, Navío Gámez & Barroso Osuna (2016) propose an adaptation of the Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework for university lecturers. In this framework, TPCK and TPACK dimensions can be useful for ITEs to support their students’ creative processes. 

The National Institute for Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEFin Spanish) – EducaLAB is the main National level training institution for in-service teachers. Although they don’t focus on the particular topic of creativity and ICT for ITEs, the Institute can be seen as an infrastructure that could support online training about this matter. Some successful courses in the past include a Massive Open Online Course about Personal Learning Environments for educators.

However, the activities from Fundación Telefónica (Telefónica foundation) might even be more well-known among teachers. It aims to promote a digital and cooperative society by increasing the opportunities for development for citizens. One of its four strategies is Education, and more specifically to find, experiment, understand and disseminate new educational trends. 

SM foundation, which belongs to a publishing house company, includes as one of its four strategies the one in "Education, technology and learning". It supports the Institute for Technology, Education and Learning (INTEA in Spanish).

Espiral - educación y tecnología is an association with 25 years of experience in promoting and applying ICT in education. It organises at least 4 events per year and it is composed by both academics and practitioners. 

Within academia, the Red Universitaria de Tecnología Educativa (RUTE) is a Network of research groups from Spanish speaking universities who investigate ICT in education. For 25 years now, this network has organised the symposia of ICT in Education. The association Asociación para el desarrollo de la Tecnología Educativa y las Nuevas Tecnologías aplicadas a la Educación (EDUTEC) carries out a similar task.

The most specific national level statement about teachers’ ICT competence is the “Common framework for teachers’ digital competence” (INTEF, 2017). These competences are organised in five areas: 1) Information and informational literacy; 2) Communication and collaboration; 3) Digital content creation; 4) Safety; 5) Problem-solving. 

Similarly, the regional government of Catalonia has recently published a law stating the digital competences that all non-university teachers must have (Department d'Ensenyament, 2016). They are organised in five dimensions, 

namely 1) Pedagogical design, planning and implementation; 2) Organisation and management of educational resources and environments; 3) Communication and collaboration; 4) Digital ethics; 5) Professional development. 

Even if they don’t mention creativity explicitly, some competences in the aforementioned frameworks cover the use of ICT to support creative processes. In the Spanish framework, within area 5) Problem solving, we can find competence 5.3 Innovation and creative use of digital technology. The competence includes knowledge, skills and attitudes including problem solving, exploration, use of a diversity of formats and critical attitude. 

Although these competences are for non-university teachers, both these documents constitute opportunities for embedding ICT in teacher education programmes for several reasons. First, they are published by government bodies responsible for writing and assessment of the education system. Second, they provide a systematic framework with quantifiable achievement criteria, which can easily become learning outcomes in ITE programmes. 

Threats

Researchers have noted that Spanish legislation on ICT competence for educators has been abandoned or not given the attention it deserves. One reason for that is assuming that students of ITE already have knowledge about ICT (Sancho et al., 2015). This has created a gap between the reality of higher education institutions and expert recommendations and education legislation (Gutiérrez Martín, Palacios Picos & Torredo Ejido, 2010).