Exploring the digital competence of pre-service teachers on entry onto an initial teacher education programme in Ireland
Oliver McGarr & Adrian McDonagh
This study aimed to explore the digital competence of recent entrants into a pre-service teacher education programme in an Irish University. The participants were drawn from a cohort of 208 undergraduate teacher education students. The study employed an online survey that captured both self-reported levels of digital competence and knowledge of key areas of cyber ethics and digital technology. The respondents were active users of technology and very frequent users of social media but reported levels of skills in the use of other digital technologies were lower. In addition, their knowledge of cyber-ethics and associated practices varied. The study also found that they were positively disposed to technology in teaching. The paper argues that, while there are limitations to surveys that aim to capture one’s level of digital competence, they can help guide teacher educators in responding to pre-service teachers. However, digital competence is an evolving concept and care must be taken to ensure that frameworks and tools used to assess it do not stifle teachers’ autonomy in relation to their utilisation of technology.