Ctrl-alt-change : educators' perceptions of technology in schools
Prytula, Michelle P.
A review of literature regarding technology in education revealed that there are at least four key areas that influence educators’ use of technology in the classroom. These are change forces and responses, educational beliefs, perceptions of self-efficacy, and the current conditions in today’s educational institutions. The main objective of this research was to investigate the perceptions of individual educators regarding the incorporation of technology in elementary and secondary schools, with a focus on the following research questions: 1) To what degree has the educator’s instructional strategies been informed by technological change? 2) To what degree has self-efficacy played in the educator’s use of or lack of use of technology in the classroom? 3) What has been the educator’s perception of the best practice of incorporating technology in the classroom? A semi-structured interview method was used, as well as the incorporation of a visual perception spectrum. Data were collected from ten educators using semi-structured interviews, a visual perception spectrum device, and researcher observations. The interviews helped gain an understanding of the educators’ perceptions of the changes that they have faced due to technology, their feelings of self-efficacy towards teaching using technology, and their perceptions of the best use of technology in the classroom. Data were collected from ten educators in an urban school division. Five educators taught high school and five taught elementary school. The sample included administrators, primary teachers, middle years teachers, learning assistance teachers, and subject-specific high school teachers with a range in years experience and technology training. It was found that these educators had strong feelings regarding the difference they have made in their students’ lives, with or without the use of technology in education, and had an understanding of the forces around them that have promoted or inhibited the use of technology in education. These educators were aware of the potential benefits and uses for technology in education, and were comfortable with the changes that this implied for them. However, there was a variance in the degree to which these educators employed technology in their teaching, as well as a variance in their perceptions of the purposes for using technology in the classroom. These educators relayed the message that technology was being used in meaningful ways in and out of the classroom for valuable educational purposes. The educators’ personal contact with and knowledge of the students gave them the best vantage point from which to assess what their students needed and how they could attain it. These educators strongly emphasized that although there has been a push to employ technology in the classroom, it has not been incorporated into their teaching unless it served a meaningful and beneficial purpose. There was no uniform ‘best practice’ found from this study. Rather, it appeared that the best practice was to have the best equipment possible, with good software, so that the educator could have access to it when he/she saw fit, in flow and sequence, aligned with the students’ needs, whenever its use was deemed appropriate and meaningful. Implications of this study for theory are that there may be too great a focus on the gap regarding the use of technology between society and education, as well as the implication that educators may be more resilient to change than theory suggests. Implications of this study for practice include consideration into the development of a group of ‘integration specialists’ to model or assist in technology integration in elementary, high schools and pre-service education, as well as a look into the use of a technology specialist teacher in the middle years. Implications for future research include: research into collating a ‘best practice’ collection of ideas for technology integration; research into the outside pressures that educators feel to use technology despite what their beliefs may be; research into the best uses of technology for special needs students; and research into what the development of a team of ‘integration specialists’ and/or a middle years technology specialist could do for a school or school division.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
SupervisorWalker, Keith D.
Copyright DateJune 2004