Guidelines for the professional development of Mathematics teachers in the pedagogical use of ICT in open distance learning
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Professional development (PD) of teachers is part of the Department of Basic Education‘s (DBE) initiative to encourage school communities to use of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve the quality of Mathematics teaching and learning. The South African Council of Educators stipulates that PD programmes should align with system-wide needs, strengthen learning area content and outcomes, and promote system transformation. Imbedded in this system-wide criterion is The White Paper on e-Education to employ a fully ICT integrated system at all levels of education: management, teaching and learning, and administration by 2013. Mathematics teachers require PD that develops their technological pedagogical and content knowledge (TPACK) and their social professional identity (SPI). The PD of Mathematics teachers for ICT integration can assist the DBE to achieve the aims of The White Paper on e-Education and bridge the technology gap between South Africa and international education systems. Open distance learning (ODL) could be a viable method to deliver PD to Mathematics teachers to address their zone of proximal development, develop their TPACK, and establish and maintain their SPI. This study made use of a fully mixed sequential equal status multi-mode research design and methodologies to develop guidelines for the PD of Mathematics teachers in the pedagogical use of ICT in ODL. The qualitative phase (Phase I) was rooted in the interpretivist paradigm. Through an adjustable exploration of a systematic literature review, the researcher identified 23 core documents, analysed them with Atlas.ti™, and conceptualised four themes according to Engeström‘s third generation activity theory (AT). Phase II (radical exploration phase) of the research design was rooted in the radical structuralist paradigm. In the context of transformation, it developed, validated, and standardised a research instrument for the measurement of Mathematics teachers‘ PD requirements. The instrument was distributed to 300 senior phase (grades 7-9) Mathematics teachers in eight education management district centres of the WCED. The analyses of the quantitative data conceptualised a fifth activity system. The five activity systems from the adjustable and radical exploration phases were symbiotic, and co-dependent. Expansive learning was used for boundary crossing and network building during six phases of this study. The findings from the six phases of the expansive learning cycle indicated that PD of Mathematics teachers in ODL for Phase III implementation of the e-Education policy should be a joint initiative. Fundamentally ICT integration and implementation should start with Department of Basic Education (DBE) initiatives. The DBE and Provincial Departments of Education (PDEs) should conduct a needs analysis of ICT implementation, evaluate previous ICT PD programmes, plan ICT PD strategies aligned with the ICT development plan, as well as with the requirements of the Mathematics teachers. The DBE and PDE should invest in the provision of ICT equipment, afford human capital, reinstate the laptop initiative for teachers, and supply schools with networked-computer facilities to explore online platforms for PD. Mathematics teachers should assess their professional knowledge to construct new philosophies, create a subject network group, and interact as participants and members within their social environments. The standardised instrument could be used to determine and compare the PD of Mathematics teachers in other provinces and contexts.