The purpose of this study is to analyse what is happening at schools regarding the integration and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and to examine teachers’ perceptions about what teaching and learning processes can be improved through the use of ICT. A multiple-case-study research methodology was applied. From a previous exploratory research, four different types of schools were determined. Data show there is a widespread view that ICT in teaching favours several teaching and learning processes. In particular, it shows that the contribution of ICT to the improvement of teaching and learning processes is higher in the schools that have integrated ICT as an innovation factor. To attain this highest level implies that a school not only has to modernise the technological tools, but also has to change the teaching models: the teacher’s role, issues regarding classroom organisational, the teaching and learning processes, and the interaction mechanisms.
In recent years, several studies and reports have highlighted the opportunities and the potential benefits of information and communication technologies (ICT) for improving the quality of education. ICT is viewed as a “major tool for building knowledge societies” (UNESCO 2003, 1) and, particularly, as a mechanism at the school education level that could provide a way to rethink and redesign the educational systems and processes, thus leading to quality education for all.
Additionally, in Europe, appropriate use of ICT in school education is considered a key factor in improving quality at this educational level. The European Commission is promoting the use of ICT in learning processes through its eLearning Action Plan, one of the aims of which is “to improve the quality of learning by facilitating access to resources and services as well as remote exchange and collaboration” (Commission of the European Communities 2001, 2).
This report outlines several aspects to be observed and promoted, such as widespread access to broadband technologies, professional development support policies for teachers, more research into how people teach and learn using ICT, development of new high-quality online content and adaptation of current regulations to make the use of ICT at schools easier, as more recent UNESCO publications also highlight (UNESCO 2008).
The efforts of different governments and administrations have been focusing on providing the schools with good equipment. However, an analysis of the educational uses of ICT in the classroom has been lacking.
This research focuses on the need to develop appropriate strategies to face this new teaching role and, additionally, the students’ role when integrating ICT in the teaching and learning processes. The role and the perspective of teachers have become highly relevant, highlighting them as crucial players in this process. Particularly, teachers use technology depending on their perceptions and their trust in the way it can contribute to the teacher and the learning process. Through knowing what they think, we will be closer to understanding what they do or what they might do with technology in their classrooms and in relation to their work.