Friday, August 15, 2014

Capability -v- Competency

Before I became an international teacher I worked for Elsevier, a biomedical publishing company.  During this time I received IT training that was probably typical of the type of tech training that was popular:  it was very directive and comprised of teaching me certain skills in a certain order.  Today I'm co-leading a flipped classroom IB continuum workshop and thinking how far our knowledge of adult learning has changed.  When discussing flipping the classroom we do shows tools in order to raise awareness of what is possible, but we hope that by exploring the tools themselves that teachers will be more likely to retain, transfer and use this new knowledge.

I was interested to read that directive-style training can in fact have a negative impact on a person's confidence with technology, and it can also limit flexibility and responsiveness to technology integration, as it reinforces dependence on someone to teach us, and puts the learner in the position of a notice and the teacher in the position of the expert.

Phelps and Graham argue that "although it's important to be competent in ICT use, it is much more critical to strive toward technology capability:  the confidence to try new things, to problem solve and to engage in continual technology learning."  It was pointed out this morning that the idea of a workshop is that the students do the work and share their learning.  Our aim is to help teachers identify what they need to learn and then go out and do the learning.  In this situation we want to encourage them to move out of their comfort zone and to try new strategies and pedagogical practices.

Competency refers to being able to perform or demonstrate specific skills.  Capability, according to Phelps and Graham, goes much further and is the "integration of knowledge, skills and personal qualities used effectively and appropriately in response to varied, familiar and unfamiliar circumstances.  Many technology teachers in fact have never been formally trained in how to use technology, however they have shown they are comfortable in having a go at new things and so are good at adapting to rapid and ongoing change.  They "employ self-directed learning strategies and are willing to experiment with new software and hardware.  They recognize and embrace appropriate avenues for classroom ICT integration and are prepared to persevere and problem solve when things do not go to plan .... Capable people are those who can operate in unknown contexts and with new problems.  capability is thus a much stronger attribute in context of rapid change", which is certainly the case with technology.

Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Compfight cc

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