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June 2017

Transforming Teacher's Use of Technology

Professional Context:

In my capacity as Technology Teacher and ICT Educational Specialist, I have the opportunity to work with teachers, students and administrators on effective implementation of technology and innovation. Technological competencies are essential for 21st century learning. As the National Education Association (2008) outlines, technology is an integral component to both our work and personal lives, and we must harness its power to provide authentic and engaging learning experiences, as well as utilize technology to build resources and assessments that measure student success in more accurate and purposeful ways. Technology should be used to enhance learning experiences for our students. Furthermore, technology should be a tool to support learning and not a replacement for traditional methods. ( Hughes, 2005). Technology-supported-pedagogy may be classified into three categories in which technology functions as: (a) replacement, (b) amplification, or (c) transformation (Hughes, 2005).

According to Hughes (2005), technology as replacement indicates technology used to substitute a traditional method. For example, a computer used to take notes in lieu of paper and pencils. In contrast, amplification refers to technology being utilized to perform tasks more efficiently. (Hughes, 2005). An example of amplification of technology could be the share feature in Google Docs. This can be used to provide feedback to students in a more timely manner and enable students to collaborate on projects from the comfort of their home. However, the the ultimate goal of technology integration is transformation. In this case, technology is utilized to redefine learning experiences for our students “by reorganizing students’ cognitive processes and problem-solving activities” (Pea, 1985, p. 180), and subsequently create possibilities that were not possible prior to technology integration. As ICT Specialist, I assist administrators in implementing school wide technology initiatives, and provide support to teachers with the objective of technology being used to redefine learning by all.

 Issue Encountered:

There is a vast discrepancy in how technology is being utilized. Some teachers do not feel technologically competent, or are utilizing technology as a replacement tool rather than a transformative one. There appears to be underlying resistance to change by certain parties and an unwillingness to ask for or accept help and support.

 This inconsistent use of technology in the classroom is problematic as teachers who utilize technology in the classroom report more engagement and student understanding, particularly those who are using technology in an amplified or transformative manner, than teachers who do not use technology in the classroom (Grunwald Associates LLC., 2010). Furthermore, students tend to be more engaged and invested in the learning process when technology is utilized effectively rather than traditional means of instruction. (Grunwald Associates LLC, 2010). As educators, we should always be striving to improve the learning experiences of our students. However, though there is some resistance to change, the majority of teachers are in fact embracing technology use in the classroom. According to Grunwald Associates LCC. (2010, p.20), “just 34% of the 1000 teachers surveyed use technology 10% of class time or less.” These findings demonstrate that by and large teachers are accepting and utilizing technology in the classroom.

However, there is a difference between utilizing technology, and effectively implementing technology to support learning. As Henderson & Romeo (2015) outline, it is quite simple to see which teachers are utilizing technology in the classroom, but much more difficult to determine which teachers are using technology in an effective manner.

This report will seek to discover reasons why certain teachers are resistant to technology education, how to support individuals who feel less technologically competent or enthused by the prospect of utilizing technology in the classroom, and how to assist teachers in the effective implementation of technology in the classroom.. My professional context will aid in the development of a solution as my primary role is to increase and improve support for technology integration and innovation in the classroom. As a result, I have first hand knowledge of the struggles that teachers face in their classrooms pertaining to technology integration, and will be able to develop a solution that utilizes my role of tech coach.

Literature Review:

Discrepancies in Teachers Use of Technology:

There has been much research on exploring the reason’s why there are vast discrepancies in teacher’s use of technology. According to Henderson & Romeo (2015), barriers to technology adoption can be categorized into first order barriers that have been discovered are  such as insufficient access to computers and software, lack of time to plan instruction, and limited support. However, According to Ertmer et al. (2012) these first order barriers have since been eliminated.

In addition to the “first-order” barriers outlined above, “second-order barriers are intrinsic to teachers and include beliefs about teaching, beliefs about computers and established classroom practices’ (Ertmer, 1999, p. 48). Researchers have examined in detail the relationship between teachers personal beliefs and their technology use. According to Andrew (2007, p. 170) “teachers with constructivist beliefs tended to use technology to support student-centered curricula; those with traditional beliefs used computers to support more teacher-directed curricula”. These findings suggest that merely having access to computers does not influence teachers technology use but rather a pedagogical shift is required to change teacher’s technology practice. Furthermore, it suggests that teachers with student-centered views are more likely to incorporate technology into the classroom.

Ertmer et. al. (2012) conducted a study which explored factors which influence teachers beliefs regarding technology use through semi-structured interviews conducted by teachers. According to the study, teachers felt that external factors influenced their use of technology as opposed to internal factors. Furthermore, all teachers considered themselves open to using technology. However, although all teachers indicated use of technology in the classroom as well as openness to use, this does not provide us with a clear picture of how the technology is being utilized in the classroom. In addition, teachers do not necessarily share the same beliefs on the role of technology in the classroom.

According to a study conducted in Australia regarding the use of portable computers in the classroom  by Newhouse (2001), the majority of teachers believe technology was unnecessary to enhance learning. Although teachers are utilizing technology in the classroom, their personal beliefs about the usefulness of computers and technology in the classroom can greatly influence whether technology is applied effectively or not. This is further supported by the findings of Ertmer et. al. (2012, p. 425) that “teachers were able to enact technology integration practices that closely aligned with their beliefs.” In addition, one of the complaints on part of teacher was that they did not have the time to try new instructional practices. Fox and Henri (2005) conducted a study  on the use of technology in Hong Kong elementary and secondary schools and discovered that pressure pertaining to standardized testing resulted in teachers to attempt new instructional methods which utilized technology. These findings suggest that the best way to bring hesitant teachers on board is by providing them with more knowledge and skills as opposed to eliminating first order barriers. (Ertmer et. al., 2012). Ideally, by providing teachers with more knowledge and skills this can lead to the pedagogical shift needed to transform the manner in which technology is utilized in the classroom.

Proposed solutions

In addition to exploring teachers discrepancy in technology use, there has been substantial research conducted on solutions for the effective implementation of technology in the K-12 learning environment. Ertmer et. al. (2012, p. 426) suggests that “one way to reduce fear is to provide teachers with ideas about how their students can assist them with technology.” Furthermore, there has been indication that providing student voice on technology plans can influence teacher adoption of technology. As Hew and Brush (2006) indicate,  students can provide their voice in the planning stages of technology integration using their personalized viewpoints and skills pertaining to technology use, and additionally can play a role in the implementation of technology. By incorporating student voice in technology planning and implementation, this could serve the dual purpose of providing technological support and aiding in a pedagogical shift on part of teachers.

 In addition, research suggests that teachers need to see clear results and positive benefits of utilizing technology in order to change their viewpoints. According to  (Ertmer et.al., 2012), teachers need to be able to make visible connections between technology use and mastery of learning outcomes. According to Darling-Hammond et. al. (2009) professional development should be delivered with tools that teachers can incorporate into the classroom. The outlined findings suggest that technology integration plans need to be personalized, authentic, and results driven.

Barriers to Technology Adoption:

In my particular professional context, first-order barriers as outlined by Ertmer (1999) have infact been eliminated, as teachers are provided with laptops, the school has implemented a BYOD policy for all students, we have many additional technology tools and resources, ICT Technicians who provide technical support, and two ICT Specialists including myself who provide workshops, in-class support, and one on one meetings with students teachers and staff to assist in technology integration. Generally speaking, teachers are obligated to incorporate technology in their teacher practice to some degree such as maintaining a Google Classroom platform. However, the manner in which teachers utilize technology in the classroom varies greatly.

 In order to support information obtained through review of literature, I obtained feedback through informal conversation from teachers on their views of technology use. Some barriers identified were a lack of time to learn and implement new technology tools, differing views on the usefulness of technology in the classroom, and a desire to learn technology skills but not knowing where to start and how to utilize them effectively.

 Solution:

According to Darling-Hammond et. al. (2009) “Effective professional learning is intensive, ongoing, focused on the classroom, and occurs during the teacher’s workday”. In addition, context is critical, and teachers need to learn in the context of their classroom where they practice their craft (Ertmer et. al, 2012). Furthermore, Ertmer et. al. (2012) indicate, in order to promote change it is essential to connect teachers with purpose. The research suggests that in order for professional development for teachers to be effective, it needs to be purposeful, there needs to be direct connections made between professional development activities and use in the classroom, and needs to be continuous.

 Taking the review of literature into consideration as well as feedback from teachers,  the barriers to technology integration I will address in my solution are teachers attitudes and beliefs, lack of technology skills, and lack of time. The primary challenges I anticipate facing in the implementation of my solution are teacher autonomy and time. In order to encourage a pedagogical shift in attitudes and beliefs, teachers need to feel in as though they have a voice in the changes, and that that they are happening organically; as opposed to forced initiatives. (Ertmer, 2012). This can be challenging when you are trying to implement school initiatives. In addition, there are time limitations on myself as a coach as well as teachers with a full time schedule. I created the following infographic to outline a one year plan aimed at aiding teachers in becoming confident, and competent transformational users of technology while taking into consideration my outlined challenges:

 

As outlined in the findings by Ertmer et. al. (2012), teachers are most likely to be responsive to technology integration if it aligns with their beliefs. As a result, teacher voice is essential in transforming the manner in which technology is used. Therefore, the first step of my solution is conducting a needs assessment via Google Forms to establish teacher’s comfort level with technology, as well as what goals they would like to work on. This could potentially pose a challenge as teachers may not be honest with or aware of their comfort level with technology use. For this reason, follow-up meetings are essential to provide insight into the true nature of each teacher’s technology use. In addition, follow-up meetings will aid in transforming teacher’s  use of technology in a personalized manner based on their comfort level and skill set.

Furthermore, research indicates that providing teachers with more knowledge and skills can lead to the pedagogical shift needed to change the manner in which teachers viewed and utilized technology (Ertmer et. al., 2012). As a result, incorporating a substantial amount of professional development is an essential component to my solution. However, one of the primary challenges outlined by teachers was their lack of time to implement new instructional techniques which utilized technology (Fox and Henri, 2005). Additionally, time is also a challenge for myself as tech coach as I am limited in my ability to provide face to face support. As a result, the next step of my solution is to provide convenient access to knowledge and skills in the form of online professional development that teachers can access at their leisure. This will include a Google Classroom discussion forum, Instructional YouTube Videos, and a blog with resources and twitter chats. Moreover, research indicates that professional development should be with conducted with tools that can be applied in the classroom. (Ertmer et.al., 2012). By utilizing online tools to enable teacher’s to gain knowledge and skills pertaining to technology use, this can aid in the development of the connection between technology use and mastery of learning outcomes.

The next step of my solution is a “Teach A Teacher” mentorship program. As Harper (2008) indicates, including student voice in technology integration and implementation can encourage teachers to incorporate more technology in the classroom as it enables them to see direct links between technology use and student engagement and understanding. This program will have a student mentor paired with each teacher and have students teach teachers technology skills that they find useful and relevant to their learning.

As a means of providing more support and clear connections between how technology can be used in the classroom and its benefits, in-class support will be provided by the ICT specialists in which classes are observed and effective technology practices are modelled. In addition, lunch time workshops which focus on a variety of topics based on teacher interest and innovations in technology will be conducted bi-weekly. This will aid combatting the issue of time as these professional development opportunities will be provided on time that is commonly free and convenient for educators.

 Lastly, a monthly ICT newsletter will be implemented which highlights developments in ICT around the school, innovations in education, highlight teachers’ who are utilizing innovation in the classroom, and provide links to resources that can be immediately applied in the classroom with a focus on a different department each month.

 Future Directions:

Following the implementation of this solution, a comparison study can be conducted to measure the effectiveness of this plan by evaluating whether the manner in which technology is being used has improved, and subsequently, whether there are links between increased technology used and increased student achievement and engagement.

 In addition, there have been indications that including student voice on the development of technology integration plans and not only the implementation can aid in effectiveness (Harper, 2008). With this in mind, the election of a student ICT committee could provide student voice to the planning process of technology integration.

 References:

 Andrew, L. (2007). Comparison of teacher educators’ instructional methods with the constructivist ideal. The Teacher Educator, 42(3), 157–184.

 Ertmer, P. A. (1999). Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47 (4), 47–61.

 Ertmer, P. A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Sadik, O., Sendurur, E., & Sendurur, P. (2012). Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship. Computers & Education, 59(2), 423-435. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.02.001

 Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R., Andree, A., Richardon, N., Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. NSDC.

 Fox, R., & Henri, J. (2005). Understanding teacher mindsets: IT and change in Hong Kong schools. Educational Technology & Society, 8(2), 161–169.

 Grunwald Associates LLC. (2010). Educators, technology and 21st century skills: Dispelling five myths. A study on the connection between K–12 technology use and 21st century skill. From http://www.waldenu.edu/Documents/Degree-Programs/ Full_Report_-_Dispelling_Five_Myths.pdf, p 6.

 Henderson, M., & Romeo, G. (2015). Teaching and digital technologies: big issues and critical questions. Port Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press.

 Hew, K. F., & Brush, T. (2006). Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55(3), 223-252. doi:10.1007/s11423-006-9022-5

 Harper, D. (2008). Vision to action: Adding student leadership to your technology plan . Generation Yes. Retrieved November 21, 2011, from. http://genyes.org/media/programs/how_to_include_students_in_tech_plan.pdf

 Hughes, J. (2005). The role of teacher knowledge and learning experiences in forming technology-integrated pedagogy. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(2), 277–302.

 National Education Association. (2008). Technology in schools: The ongoing challenge of access, adequacy, and equity. Policy Brief # 19. Washington DC: NEA Policy and Practice Department.

 Newhouse, C. P. (2001). A follow-up study of students using portable computers at a secondary school. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(2), 209–219.

 Pea, R. D. (1985). Beyond amplification: Using the computer to reorganize mental functioning. Educational Psychologist, 20(4), 167–182.