Revision July 9, 2008
It’s long, so the bulk of it is after the jump.
Constructive criticism welcome.
Chapter I: Introduction
The problem is some high school teachers are not implementing technology in a fully integrated manner.
The purpose of this study is to determine why segments of the high school teacher population have difficulty integrating technology into their classrooms in a meaningful way.
Description of the Community
For the purposes of this Action Research Project, the Kelsey virtual school district (provided for virtual research by the University of Phoenix) is located in a community that is in a suburban city in the mid-west United States. The area’s population demographics reflect the typical range of racial backgrounds and family incomes for the state, with a strong middle class element. Changing economic times in the state are causing a transition from an auto-industry-based economy to one based on knowledge and services.
The school district has recently received a large injection of grant money through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), to be used for technology improvements for the high school.
The school district has decided to implement the IMPACT guidelines for technology integration as designed by the state of North Carolina (Bradburn, 2007) to assure that the grant money is put to best use.
One of the components of IMPACT is a focus on providing classroom teachers with proper training and assistance by including a Technology Team in each school. This technology team consists of full-time, professional staff that will train and support the classroom teachers in the use of new technologies on an on-going basis (NC DPI Instructional Technology Division, 2006).
For this study, the school district has hired a minimal team of three full-time technology team positions, including an Instructional Technology Facilitator, a School Library Media Coordinator, and a Technology Assistant/Technician. This team will work closely with each of the teachers to provide individualized instruction in the mechanical use of technology as well as instruction in best practices for integration.
This initial exploratory research will take place at the community high school, as it was the focus of the NCLB grant that is funding the technology improvements. The grant pays for substantial improvements to the school’s technology infrastructure. This includes the purchase of a personal laptop computer and associated software accessories for each member of the teaching staff. The grant pays for the introduction of an interactive whiteboard system into each classroom and software compatible with the teacher laptops. The grant pays for desktop computers (and associated software and up-keep costs) for each classroom with the ratio of three students per computer. In addition, the grant also pays for upgrades to the school’s Media and Technology Center (computer lab) and TV Production Studio to promote their integration into the IMPACT model.
The 16 teachers comprising the classroom teaching staff of the school have a broad range of teaching styles and experience with computers and technology, which will allow for a broader exploration of the technology training curriculum.
The school’s mission statement calls for academic excellence and assuring that all their students are prepared for lifelong success through promoting the development of personal ethics, encourages artistic expression, and encouraging responsible citizenship. Properly integrated technology can help facilitate this mission.
The researcher conducting this action research project has experience in instruction through computer technology. He holds a M. A. in curriculum and instruction / computer education and has over 10 years experience as a multimedia instructional designer. For the purposes of this research project the writer holds the position of Instructional Technology Facilitator for the virtual school where the research is conducted. In this role, the writer is responsible for the overall implementation of the technology integration initiative including budgetary discretion for equipment and software purchase, technology staff salaries, funds earmarked specifically for in-school teacher education, and supervision of the other members of the technology team. Most important, the writer is responsible for coordinating one-on-one instruction with classroom teachers for best practices on integration of technology.
Chapter II: Study of Problem
The problem is some high school teachers are not implementing technology in a fully integrated manner.
This problem is evident in that technology use is often superficial or centered on the use of the technology itself rather than on course content. This leads to the technology being seen as “the message” rather than as the medium of transmission for course content.
Teachers do not by default have the training to integrate technology properly into their classrooms. This holds just as true for new teachers as it does for teachers with decades of experience because technology is always changing. The pace of technological evolution today makes it increasingly difficult for the classroom teacher to keep up with it. Given all the duties they must attend to, little time remains to explore the options that all the various new technologies might offer.
In addition to knowledge of how to use the actual physical artifact of technology, an individual teacher’s beliefs on how that technology might fit into their existing pedagogy may also help or hinder the integration process. New technology brings with it new ways to interact with the world around us, and its proper integration necessitates a willingness to explore the options available. If a technology is best used in a way counter to a teacher’s pre-existing beliefs about teaching and learning, a reluctance to undergo pedagogical change may hinder their willingness to integrate that technology fully (Matzen & Edmunds, 2007, p. 418).
Despite the abundance of technology available in many schools today, evidence suggests that many teachers do not use technology in sophisticated ways (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 412). Rather, technology is being used in superficial ways that are focused upon the use of the technology itself rather than focusing on using the technology in support of learning course topics. This is problem is often compounded by a pedagogical predilection toward a transmission model of teaching. Evidence suggests that teachers with student-centered pedagogical beliefs are more likely to succeed in technology integration. (Levin & Wadmany, 2006, p. 160).
In addition to unsophisticated use, evidence also suggests that up to 80% of teachers use computer technology less than 50% of the time in classroom instruction (Bauer & Kenton, 2005, p. 535). Bauer and Kenton found that a common teacher complaint tied to this is the lack of enough time in a school day to “teach the use of technology” over and above the content they are mandated to teach. However, time spent learning to integrate properly a new technology will increase the likelihood of its use in the classroom (Bauer & Kenton, 2005, p. 534).
Evidence suggests that when the quality of technology integration is not ensured, time spent with technology may do students more harm than good (Lei & Zhao, 2007, Conclusions). This can be seen in many ways including taking up valuable class time to learn to use the technology that would be better spent learning course materials, and in particularly in students’ misuse of technology resources (such as checking email at inappropriate times, playing games, or browsing websites) when they aught to be doing schoolwork, due to the teacher not being savvy to these misuses.
The extant literature on the subject suggests that many factors affect the integration of new technology into classroom practice. These factors range from a confusion between the simple use of technology versus true integration to professional development and training issues, teacher pedagogical decisions based on both their own previous training as well the demands placed upon them to address standardized assessments and standards-based expectations on their classroom delivery.
A distinction needs to be made between ‘use’ and ‘integration’. The use of technology in and of itself does not lead to successful integration (Koehler & Mishra, 2005, p. 132). Proper integration entails use of a technology in a way that makes the technology a seamless, almost invisible part of the over-all learning environment, akin to blackboards and chalk. A new technology might be highly used in a classroom, but if the focus of learning is on the technology itself then proper integration has not taken place. Lei and Zhao (2007) note a detriment to student grades in classrooms with improper integration (¶ 19). If technology is not properly integrated it may be misused or used at inappropriate times. Morrison and Lowther (2005) note that one reason the technology “revolution has yet to start” (p. 3) is a disconnection between how one should be using technology versus the current state of affairs in actual teacher use of technology in the classroom. They note a strong focus on computer software like ‘drill-and-skill’ programs, tutorials, and educational games that often mimic the functioning of flash cards more than they are addressing integrated use. If one of the tasks of teachers is to prepare children to be good citizens of our democracy and productive workers in the modern workforce, then the computer skills that students are learning should reflect their actual use in those environments. In the office environment computers are used as productivity tools, and are used in problem-solving ways. Students need to “learn to use the tools to solve problems and generate new ideas and knowledge” (Morrison & Lowther, 2005, p. 7). Evidence suggests that these are not the skills being addressed by the ‘use’ of technology in many classrooms today, and “technology applications in all disciplines of the curriculum offer promise but are underdeveloped” (The Forum For Education and Democracy, 2008, p. 36). Approaching this situation requires the use of “the confluence of having new tools (both pedagogical and technological)” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p.22) as a catalyst to bring about change.
Unwillingness exists among some teachers to adapt their classroom practices to more fully integrate technology (Bai & Ertmer, 2008, pp. 94-95). Since integrating new technology requires exploring new ways of learning, a teacher who is unwilling to modify their classroom methods will experience difficulties in integration. The literature suggests that many new technologies such as computers and the Internet are best integrated through student-centered methods, and teachers with more traditional beliefs face greater degrees of change in their classroom practices when facing technology integration (Levin & Wadmany, 2006, p. 160). If a teacher is too set in their ways to accept new ways of thinking about education they may need a great deal of convincing to brought around to see the usefulness of technology. Careful assessment of each teacher must be used to assure his or her readiness to learn these new skills, their preparedness in having the “skills, knowledge, and dispositions essential for success” in learning new ways of teaching (DuFour et al, 2006, p. 217). For whatever reasons, for some teachers their classroom practices “take on many characteristics of ideology, ideology being defined as a systematic body of beliefs that requires loyalty and conformity by its adherents” (Knowles et al, 2005, p. 68). One factor may hinge on the way that technology is viewed by these teachers who might see technology simply as a means to deliver his or her instruction and might lack the pedagogical sophistication to address technology as “tools to solve problems” (Morrison & Lowther, 2005, p. 25). Finding ways to help these teachers grow in their instructional practice is essential to proper technology integration.
The opposite extreme from the ‘old school’ teacher is another aspect of the modern standards-based public school system that needs to be considered is the accountability system brought about by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. Technology standards such as the National Educational Standards for Students (NETS•S) exist and are increasingly seeing implementation in state standards (International Society for Technology in Education, 2007, p. 9). However, they are often not properly implemented and assessed when the classroom practices are focused on teaching content instead of processes. Assessment should guide instruction, just as instruction informs what should be assessed. They are as one author put it, “two sides of the same coin” (Asselin, 2003, p. 52). However, a need exists for reexamination of how many public schools are meeting their technology standards.
Several problematic issues that interfere with technology integration are evident with the current situation in many public schools, not the least of which is a growing reliance on ‘teaching to the test’. One author seemed to suggest ‘teaching to the test’ and overuse of test preparation materials is the classroom teacher’s fault, “overuse of these materials is unfortunate – and unnecessary. But critics’ narrow, anecdotal case that such overuse predominates is hardly compelling” (Schmoker, 2000, p. 55). This may have been true back in 2000 before the existence of the NCLB act and its emphasis on accountability. In the eight years that have followed since Schmoker wrote this, evidence indicates the pressure felt by teachers to assure their students show adequate yearly progress on mainly content-based high-stakes tests has become unbearable, resulting in many resorting to just this sort of instruction.
A major problem with a strong emphasis on addressing content standards alone is that these tests do not address the students’ capabilities for conducting rigorous scientific inquiry, use of technology innovation, and important information management skills (The Forum for Education and Democracy, 2008, p. 2). A lack of integration of technology use with classroom practice prevents many teachers from having the perceived time properly to address technology use. The evidence in the literature indicates that classroom practices have changed since Schmoker’s article. One author noted that “high-stakes standardized testing can greatly influence the teaching of reading and writing. Many teachers change their literacy curricula in order to train students to take the test” (Higgins et al, 2006, ¶ 2). Improperly integrated technology tends to get in the way of a focus on these assessments and thus also gets neglected. The axiom holds true that ‘what gets tested is what gets taught’. Evidence suggests that the pressure for their students to perform well of these tests leads many teachers “to teach in ways that contradict their ideas of sound instructional practice” (The Forum for Education and Democracy, 2008, p. 15).
In addition to the ever-growing body of content society thinks a student should know, classroom teachers must also address high-order learning skills. Technology standards such as NETS•S recognize this and are designed to integrate technology in ways that stress the higher-order learning skills (International Society for Technology in Education, 2007, p. 1). As research indicates, “studies have demonstrated that students are less likely to engage in extended research, writing, complex problem-solving, and experimentation when the accountability system emphasizes short-answer responses to formulaic problems” (The Forum for Education and Democracy, 2008, p. 29). These are the essential skills our children need to be learning if society wants them to be competitive in the realities of the knowledge-based economy and the technological society that has developed at the dawn of the 21st century and that continue to evolve at an increasing pace. Research indicates that most learning is a process of fitting new information into our existing knowledge schemas and, “unless we work hard to establish new schemas, our existing schemas tend to determine how we evaluate and shape new information” (Howard, 2006, p. 482). The consideration needs to go both ways, “the reform movement can influence the use of technology, and technology can influence the reform of education” (Morrison & Lowther, 2005, p. 25).
Often technology integration failure hinges on the lack of proper training for the classroom teacher in best practices for integration (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 412). Many school districts’ attempts at integrating new technology focus on the purchase of new technology items, and do not place enough focus on giving the teachers enough meaningful training on how to use the technology in their learning environment. Lack of knowledge of the variety of approaches to technology use is a key factor in unsuccessful technology integration (Lightfoot, 2005, p. 210). A well-trained teacher does not by default have the technological savvy to integrate computers and other technology properly into their classroom. Technology training within teacher training programs is more often superficial, and meant more as a basic preparation rather than in-depth course of study. Technology training programs are often lacking in their effectiveness because “those restructuring the schools … often have failed to consider the use of technology when designing new programs” (Morrison & Lowther, 2005, p. 25). Technology integration goes hand in hand with the pursuit of 21st century skills because these technology tools “promote creativity, collaboration, and communication, and they dovetail with learning methods in which these skills play a part” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p. 21).
Research indicates that for many cases, “the way schools have employed computers has been perfectly predictable, perfectly logical – and perfectly wrong” (Christensen et al, 2008, p. 73). Computers and technology in general have been implemented in ways that were focused on the technology use itself and was not tied into student-centered classroom strategies. Technology training should include not only technology-based integration topics but also should integrate student-based learning topics. In their work with the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow project Matzen and Edmunds (2007) noted that, “technology changed teacher and student roles in the classroom” because students frequently tended to “learn more and more rapidly about the technology,” driving it’s use (p. 418). If teachers are not able to keep apace of technology changes they stand the risk of failing to engage their students in meaningful educational use of technologies that the students are already using on a daily basis outside the school setting. Research indicates that, “students know how to use these tools for their own purposes. Schools must help them to use the tools to learn as well” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p. 3). Morrison and Lowther (2005) note that the students’ use of technology outside the classroom is consistent with the view of computers and other technology seen as tools rather than as delivery mechanisms (p. 31). These tools engage students’ intrinsic motivation to use them, and capturing that motivation is an important factor in successful learning. As research noted, “the most potent motivators are internal pressures” (Knowles, 2005, p. 68).
Higher technology integration can cause issues as well because designing lesson plans around these models “takes more preparation time compared to preparing to implement a more traditional lesson“ (Morrison & Lowther, 2005, p. 277). This ties back into the subject of time constraints. While the preparation time might be a good deal more complicated and time-consuming, the resulting technology-integrated, student-centered lesson plans are a more complete learning experience. Part of the challenge is to present these new technology proficiencies in a way that is designed to facilitate their timely use. Adults “learn best when information is presented in a real-life context” (Knowles, 2005, p. 197), and since problem-based learning is one of the focuses of a student-centered approach to classroom practice, learning new technologies in the context of how they will be used with the teacher’s individual classrooms offers the dual benefit of both making the information easier for the teacher to integrate and models the way in which good technology integration takes place.
On the opposite extreme are the teachers who choose to “go it alone” with technology integration. These teachers consider themselves ‘tech savvy’ and take it upon themselves to explore the use of new technologies. They may enthusiastically attempt to include new technology in their classroom, but if they do not have support from fellow teachers such as technology mentors or from knowledgeable technology support staff, they will often lack the collaborative environment that the literature suggests is best suited to proper technology integration (Glazer, & Hannafin. 2008, p.36). Technology implementation requires a guide or mentor to facilitate smooth integration and to work through any difficulties the teacher may encounter with any of the many aspects of the process.
Paradoxically, the less prior experience a teacher possesses in regard to technology training, the more likely they are to implement technology correctly when they are finally introduced to the concept. Glazer and Hannafin (2008 ) suggest that this motivation is attributed to a sense of naivety on the part of the teacher (p. 48). Access to a knowledgeable mentor offers the teacher-learner the opportunity for “reflection, interpersonal relationships, and feedback” which reinforce their “interest in, and ability to support, peer growth” (Glazer, & Hannafin. 2008, p.49). One study found that when teacher-educators are comfortable using technology during the training process while working collaboratively with teacher-learners, the learners felt “more comfortable that they could use technology in their teaching” (Bai & Ertmer, 2008, pp. 96) and that they felt more confident that they were learning useful techniques for technology integration. Improperly or inadequately trained technology mentors can be just as problematic. Having a properly trained and knowledgeable teacher-educator in the role of technology mentor to collaborate with the learner in technology integration is an important factor no matter the teacher-learner’s enthusiasm for the topic. Bai and Ertmer (2008 ) found that for many cases where they measured a continued lack of technology integration, the “instructor’s technology uses were not at a level that could be influential” (p. 108). In this way a poorly trained technology mentor could be detrimental to helping a new teacher develop useful technology attitudes.
The literature suggests several interrelated causes behind these integration troubles.
A perceived lack of time for teachers to fit technology into their already time-crunched classes exists (Bauer & Kenton, 2005, p. 534). If a teacher already has their hands full trying to assure that their students are learning all they need to and are meeting the standards set for them, how can they possibly add learning about technology to their student’s curriculum, much less take the time to learn it themselves? Without the proper training, new technology is practically worthless. The literature shows that a lack of teacher skill level in use of technology is a strong factor in incomplete integration (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 412).
In a related vein, some teachers simply do not want to learn about and use technology, and may even fight all attempts to have computers or other technology in their classroom. Often these teachers possess a strongly traditional transmission model of classroom practices and an inflexible pedagogy, which the literature shows can be a major cause of lack of meaningful integration by individual teachers (Matzen & Edmunds, 2007, p. 427).
Often a lack of adequate technology support staff exists, which leads to improper or incomplete integration (Bauer & Kenton, 2005, p. 536). If a teacher has no one to go to with technology questions, and no one to help them learn more about how to integrate new technology, they will be less likely to succeed at full integration. Often this is because of a fixation on ‘technology as the message’, instead of seeing technology as only the medium for their own message, which the literature shows is a detriment to integration (Lei & Zhao, 2007, ¶ 20).
Chapter III: Outcomes and Analysis
Goals and Expected Outcomes
The overall goal is to have useful technology fully integrated into the classroom in a manner that enhances student learning.
Several expected outcomes can be determined through exploring a teacher’s technology integration within their classroom practice.
The first goal is to determine why some classroom teachers gain benefits from technology while others do not. Classroom teachers and their teacher educators can better understand a classroom teacher’s needs after proper documentation of current practices. The classroom teacher’s observed level of technology integration, personal computer usage, and current instructional practices assessments will provide meaningful data about their current practices (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 412).
Secondly, the project will seek to provide training in technology integration that can engage the flow of student learning and motivates student achievement. Some of the literature indicated that “a focus shift from quantity to quality in educational technology policy and standards can help create necessary conditions for technology uses that have positive student impacts” (Lei & Zhao, 2007, Implications).
The third goal of this project is to use technology as a catalyst for change, providing opportunities for teachers to grow in knowledge and professional practice by helping the individual teacher to see how Constructivist teaching methods can be used to improve student learning of the specific subject matter in his or her own classroom.
Evidence suggests that well-integrated technology tends to conform to a Constructivist educational model, and that “appropriate use of technology can reinforce higher cognitive skill development and complex thinking skills as promoted through the use of Constructivist teaching practices” (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 421). Even for the most dyed-in-the-wool adherent of the transmission model of learning, evidence suggests that when classroom teachers do increase their technology integration, it occurs in Constructivist ways, regardless of the teacher’s other teaching practices (Matzen & Edmunds, 2007, p. 427).
Measurement of Outcomes
Measurement of classroom teachers’ technology use and integration will be accomplished using the DETAILS assessment framework (National Business Education Alliance, 2006) which is freely available online from the address in this paper’s references.
The Determining Educational Technology And Instructional Literacy Skillsets (DETAILS) framework consists of three parts, each based on an eight-point scale. The Level of Technology Integration (LoTi) assessment examines the use of technology by both the teacher and the students in their class. The Personal Computer Use (PCU) assessment measures the teacher’s use of computers and related technology for their own productivity. The Current Instructional Practices (CIP) assessment examines the teacher’s classroom instructional practices on a scale from strict transmission model to student-centered Constructivist model. Pre- and post-intervention periods of classroom observation by the researchers within the classroom teachers’ normal classroom activity will be used to gather data to assess the teachers’ DETAILS levels.
In addition to the completion of the DETAILS framework, the technology team will gather personal interview data. Each of the classroom teachers will be interviewed on his or her thoughts and opinions of technology, its use in and outside of the classroom including personal computer use and entertainment technology use, and topics surrounding his or her current pedagogical classroom beliefs. A random selection of 10 students from each grade level will also be interviewed on his or her own levels of educational and entertainment technology use, their perceived level of classroom engagement with their teachers, and their overall assessment of their learning experience.
Analysis of Results
Through analysis of the interaction of the LoTi, PCU, and CPI assessments the teacher educator team can determine the DETAILS skillset that will most benefit addressing with the classroom teacher.
The researcher expects to discover findings in line with that of previous research using DETAILS, “Factor analysis revealed LoTi levels to be significantly correlated to personal computer use and to current instructional practice” (Moersch, 2001, p. 26).
Standard multiple regression and correlative analysis will be used to find relationships between the three variables, LoTi, PCU, CPI, and will be used as modeled by previous research to examine the interplay between the variables as they evolve over time (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 420).
The interview data will be used to form a descriptive analysis of the school setting pre- and post-intervention, and will provide personal quotes and descriptive evidence in support of the analysis of the DETAILS data.
Chapter IV: Solution Strategy
The problem is some high school teachers are not implementing technology in a fully integrated manner.
Proper modeling of the physical function of a new technology will be an important factor in assuring teacher confidence in the use of that technology. The analysis of the data in one study revealed that as confidence with technology grew (as measured by PCU), so too did the integration of that technology into the classroom (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 420). The IMPACT model provides the technical support train the teacher in use of the technology and to assure the classroom teacher has working equipment in the classroom and the training to make proper use of it (Bradburn, 2007, ¶ 4). Knowledgeable technology mentors can play a very important role in technology integration as they can provide the face-to-face modeling of proper integration. Research indicates, “mentoring authorities underscore the importance of collaboration during K-12 technology integration” (Glazer & Hannafin, 2008, p. 36). In the case of this research that role is filled by members of the technology support team, but as classroom teachers become more proficient with technology integration and student-centered classroom practices (based on their DETAILS assessments), those teachers can be called on to act as technology mentors as well.
Modeling and exploration of pedagogical models that best support technology integration is an important factor in the success of this project. Evidence indicates that technology integration is better approached from a Constructivist model, and that teachers who allow for a more student-centered approach when creating their technologically-integrated lesson plans have more success with the integration (Matzen & Edmunds, 2007, p. 427). This also feeds back into the question of teacher comfort with the physical functioning of technology and Constructivist practices, as Rakes’ results “confirm that teachers who have solid basic skills and comfort levels with technology and those who use computer technologies in their classrooms are more likely to use Constructivist teaching practices” (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 422).
The problems of perceived lack of time to integrate computers into the class and the requirements that many teachers face today in regard to addressing the content-driven standards-based assessments are both addressed by proper attention to the integration process. Morrison and Lowther (2005) have designed the “iNtegrating Technology for inQuiry NTeQ model” (p. 9) as a research-based systematic method that integrates specific content and subject area standards (either through adapting existing lesson plans or through creating new lesson plans through this process) and ties them together with the developing technology standards such as the NETS•S standards. NTeQ is a 10-step instructional design approach that considers not only the content standards but also closely examines the real-world uses for various technologies such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases Internet search tools, and so forth as they are used in adult work settings and addresses these functions in the content of a problems-based approach to classroom instruction. Since many classrooms do not yet have student access to computers on a one-to-one ratio (as is the situation in this research), the model addresses integrating all classroom activities before, during, and after the use of whatever computers are available. The NTeQ model is focused on a Constructivist, student-centered, collaborative and problem-based approach which dovetails into the design of this research to address both technology and teacher pedagogy at the same time. It should be noted that, “the NTeQ model is not intended for use with every lesson taught” (Morrison & Lowther, 2005, p. 17), as the model recognizes that not every single lesson is going to be addressing learning that works well with what computers do best (the gathering, managing, manipulating, synthesis, and analysis of information resources), and part of the training will entail recognizing the times when best to not attempt technology integration for a given lesson. For the purposes of this training and research an effort will be made to tie components of the teacher-learner’s currently existing lesson plans in with the technology topics that are presented during the training sessions.
Another component of the project intervention is targeted personal computer use (PCU) training to show classroom teachers how to do the everyday tasks they need to get accomplished using the new technology, and to model reasons the new technology provides a superior solution over their previous system for creating course materials, and the sharing/presenting of those course materials for collaborating and instruction with their students and fellow teachers. The IMPACT model supports this by calling on the technology team to provide training to the teachers in a comprehensive manner (NC DPI Instructional Technology Division, 2006, Technology Facilitator Job Description). The goal is to get the classroom teacher to see the new technology as a tool to accomplish their previously existing tasks better, faster, and easier than they did before using the new technology. This is important because it will help the classroom teacher build confidence in their computer skills and as Rakes et al found, “teacher beliefs concerning their personal ability to effectively use technology and their beliefs regarding the potential effect on student achievement is quite possibly a significant factor in determining what actually happens in the classroom” (Rakes et al, 2006, p. 422). Students are often ahead of the curve when it comes to the use of technology in their own lives. Solomon and Schrum (2007) note, “students are setting trends with their use of technology both in school and out of school” (p. 27). This research intervention is designed to examine the tools and technology that students are already using on a daily basis and to help the classroom teacher determine how best to integrate these technology tools into their classroom.
The grant paying for the distribution of one laptop to each teacher will enable the teachers to take the technology home with them to have the option of exploring how to more fully integrating it into their everyday routine. This is important because “evidence shows that teachers are more likely to adopt new technology if they can use it in accordance with their existing beliefs and practices” (Levin & Wadmany, 2006, p. 160). The portability of the laptop gives the teachers the ability to take the technology with them and facilitates integration by letting the teacher explore at their own pace. The availability to use this tool whenever the teacher may find the time provides a means for the teacher to become more comfortable with both the physical as well as software aspects of the laptops, and it “offers the opportunity to experience firsthand the use of technology for meaningful and authentic activities” (Solomon & Schrum 2007, p. 116).
Selected Solutions/Calendar Plan
Training will be conducted in a school yearlong plan consisting of 16 pairs of weeks plus a 3-week summer intensive before the school year begins (35 weeks total). Below (table 1) is an example of topics to cover and an example order in which the sessions can be carried out.
3-Week NTeQ Summer Intensive
4-5. Whiteboard Basics 20-21. Wikis
6-7. Word Processor 22-23. Blogging
8-9 PowerPoint 24-25. Photoshop/Graphics
10-11 Internet Research 26-27. Google Maps
12-13. Spreadsheet 28-29 Google Earth and GPS
14-15. Database 30-31. Digital Camera Basics
16-17. Webquests (use) 32-33. YouTube/Video
18-19. Webquests (design) 34-35. Subject Area Educational Software
Table 1: Technology topics
The first training sessions the teacher-learners will attend is the three-week summer intensive, consisting of training in the use of the NTeQ technology integration model. Integrated into the school’s overall teacher training program and the professional development goals of the school, these training sessions meet daily for 2 hours and consist of a condensed examination of the process required in developing lesson plans using the NTeQ model to assure both technology and subject area content integration, and help to develop an underlying understanding of the process of technology integration overall. This includes an understanding of when technology is appropriate and when one should abstain. Morrison and Lowther (2005) have found that not every lesson is appropriate for technology integration (p. 280), and learning to identify the proper amount of technology to integrate is crucial. This three-week session is a crash course in NTeQ, and the principles will be reinforced on a weekly basis, as every training session will return to these NTeQ guidelines.
The training then continues throughout the year with a new technology topic every 2 weeks. Topics are addressed in paired weeks.
‘Week A’ sessions consist of each teacher-learner meeting one-on-one with his or her technology mentor for an hour-long session. These sessions are to provide the teacher-learner with hands-on instruction in the use of various technologies, and offers mentor-guided instruction on ways to integrate that technology into the classroom using the NTeQ method. Based on the teacher-learner’s ratings in the DETAILS assessments and adjusted optimally to address the teacher-learner’s needs, these sessions are focused on how to use the identified technology within the teacher’s specific physical classroom setting, and are centered in exploring the use of technology within the teacher’s own content subject area while addressing both proper use of the technology as well as the content standards dictated by identified state and federal standards.
‘Week B’ sessions will be mentored classroom experiences. The teacher-learner will conduct a one-hour session on alternating weeks with his or her students, with the session to be held in the school’s computer lab, media library or other technology facilities such as the video production studio, during which the teacher-learner’s technology mentor will provide direct support for the teacher-learner to integrate materials and content from the Internet or other electronic sources and will assist the teacher-learner in technologically integrated collaborative classroom activities. The technology mentor provides direct support for the teacher-learner in technologically integrated classroom activities. The sessions are planned for these specific classroom areas because the sessions will be video recorded for later review in the assessment of each session. Much as a football team might review video of their games and practices to look for specific examples of good and bad performances on the field, this collaborative interaction with the technology mentor and the videotaping gives the teacher-learner the ability to receive feedback on instructional practices and integration while working concurrently with both their own classroom students and the technology mentor in developing these best practices for technology use.
In the case of a full implementation of the plan behind this research project, the topics should be revised every year to stay apace of the latest changes in technology, and should be viewed as flexible. The ability to adjust the topics to connect to the teacher-learner’s specific interests engages their intrinsic motivation to learn, meaning the use of different topics or order as identified cooperatively by the teacher and mentor would be beneficial to engaging the flow of learning.
The technology team’s teacher-educators will follow these six underlying Constructivist principles for our technology curriculum, as adapted from Lebow’s Five Constructivist Principles (Lebow 1993, p. 5-12).
1. Acknowledge that the classroom teacher faces the challenge of a “conflict-faced” path where-in they are asked to compare and contrast their existing entrenched model with a new model with which they have little or no experience (Perkins, 1992, p. 162).
2. Some teachers-learners are better prepared for technology integration than others. Guide the learner slowly from practices that are similar to their existing practices along a scale toward those that are more in line with the models of fully integrated practices. (Matzen & Edmunds, 2007, p. 419). Research indicates that “teacher education needs to begin with these traditional beliefs and subsequently challenge them through activity, reflection, and discourse in both coursework and field work throughout the duration of the program” (Fosnot, 2005, p. 264).
3. The course of each lesson should model the technology as supporting the classroom teacher’s specific needs and course materials.
4. The technology that is being learned is used to model its own best practice usage and encourages exploration of the technology’s capabilities. Model technology as the medium for learning another subject, not as the subject of learning itself.
5. Support student-centered learning by helping the classroom teacher develop skills and attitudes that enable him or her to assume increased ownership for the developmental restructuring process. The teacher-educator must constantly pay close attention to which aspects of the new technology attract the learner’s interest and facilitate the learner’s pursuit of knowledge through exploring that interest.
6. Encourage the exploration of errors. It helps for the technology mentor to explain to the teacher-learner that they cannot break anything within the technology while exploring, and to model common mistakes and how to recover from them. The freedom to explore a new technology at a pace with which the teacher-learner is comfortable offers the ability to explore the teacher-learner’s zone of proximal development, keeping the challenge just within his or her comfortable range of development.
Setting up a proper framework for the classroom teacher education to assure they get the most out of the sessions is important to the solution. The technology team conducts one-on-one training sessions with classroom teachers according to a model that is under development specifically for this research:
1. Before the session, access the classroom teacher’s database records for DETAILS assessment scores.
2. Determine specific levels of technology integration and Constructivist method to include in this specific teaching session, keeping in mind the underlying principles of the technology integration curriculum as these decisions are made.
3. Prepare materials for specific activities for this session, tailored to the specific needs of the classroom teacher. Some classroom teachers may need more gradual exposure to Constructivist practices to assimilate the ideas more smoothly. Free support materials are available from LoTi Connection website Handouts section (National Business Education Alliance, 2006).
4. Plan the session activities with the classroom teacher to integrate their desired learning outcomes with the pre-planned technology curriculum.
5. Conduct the lesson with the classroom teacher, being sure to clearly model both the explicit technology integration instruction and the implicit curriculum (constructivism teaching practices) where needed. Let the classroom teacher’s interests guide the lesson as much as possible. Following the classroom teacher’s interests is important because this involvement will provide strong motivation to learn. As Confucius is attributed with saying “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”
6. Review the session with the classroom teacher, encouraging them to reflect on what they’ve learned, in the context in which they learned it. Solicit review discussion involvement from even the most disinterested of classroom teachers. Feedback is the key to tailoring the next session.
7. Re-assess the classroom teacher on the DETAILS scales at appropriate benchmarks (observed demonstration of increased integration, sustained changes in classroom practice or personal computer use).
Asselin, M. (2003). Assessment Issues and Recommendations. Teacher Librarian, 30(5), pgs. 52-53. Retrieved June 3, 2008, from http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/pqdweb?index=13&did=348079561&SrchMode=1&sid=3&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1211123689&clientId=2606.
Bai, H., & Ertmer, P. (2008). Teacher Educator’s Beliefs and Technology Uses as Predictors of Preservice Teachers Beliefs and Technology Attitudes. Journal of Technology & Teacher Education, 16(1), p93-112. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from EBSCO.
Bauer, J., & Kenton, J. (2005). Toward Technology Integration in the Schools: Why It Isn’t Happening. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(4), 519-546. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from ProQuest.
Bradburn, F. B. (2007). A Program With Impact. T H E Journal, 34(1), 55-52. Retrieved August 28, 2007, from EBSCO.
Christensen, C., Horn, M., & Johnson, C. (2008). Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., & Many, T. (2006). Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.
Fosnot, C. T. (2005). Teachers Construct Constructivism: The Center for Constructivist Teaching/Teacher Preparation Project. In C. T. Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice (pp. 263-275). New York, New York: Teachers College Press.
Glazer, E., & Hannafin, M. (2008). Factors That Influence Mentor and Teacher Interactions During Technology Integration Collaborative Apprenticeships. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 16(1), p35-61. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from EBSCO.
Higgins, B., Miller, M., & Wegmann, S. (2006). Teaching to the test … not! Balancing best practice and testing requirements in writing: high-quality, evidence-based instruction need not be sacrificed in preparing students to succeed on standardized writing assessments. The Reading Teacher, 60(4), pgs. 310-320. Retrieved May 5, 2008, from http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/ips/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC-Documents&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28KE%2CNone%2C20%29teaching+to+the+test%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28RE%2CNone%2C3%29ref%3AAnd%3ALQE%3D%28AC%2CNone%2C8%29fulltext%24&sgHitCountType=None&inPS=true&sort=DateDescend&searchType=BasicSearchForm&tabID=T002&prodId=IPS&searchId=R1¤tPosition=5&userGroupName=apollo&docId=A156364082&docType=IAC&contentSet=IAC-Documents.
Howard, P. (2006). The Owner’s Manual for The Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research. Austin, TX: Bard Press.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S). Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.
Knowles, M., Holton, E., & Swanson, R. (2005). The Adult Learner. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.
Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2005). What Happens When Teachers Design Educational Technology? The Development of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Journal Of Educational Computing Research, 32(2), 131-152. Retrieved August 26, 2006, from EBSCO.
Lebow, D. (1993). Constructivist Values for Instructional Systems Design: Five Principles Toward a New Mindset. ETR&D, 41(3), 4-16. Retrieved August 28, 2007, from EBSCO.
Lei, J., & Zhao, Y. (2007). Technology uses and student achievement: A longitudinal study. Computers & Education, 49(2), 284-297. Retrieved from ProQuest.
Levin, T., & Wadmany, R. (2006). Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices in Technology-based Classrooms: A Developmental View. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39(2), 157-181. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from ProQuest.
Lightfoot, J. (2005). Integrating emerging technologies into traditional classrooms: a pedagogic approach. International Journal of Instructional Media, 32(3), 209-225. Retrieved November 17, 2007, from Thomson Gale.
Matzen, N., & Edmunds, J. (2007). Technology as a Catalyst for Change: The Role of Professional Development. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39(4), 417-430. Retrieved August 28, 2007, from ProQuest.
Moersch, C. (2001). Next Steps: Using LoTi as a Research Tool. Learning & Leading with Technology, 29(3), 22-27. Retrieved August 21, 2007, from http://www.loticonnection.com/articles.html
Morrison, G., & Lowther, D. (2005). Integrating Computer Technology into the Classroom (Third Edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
National Business Education Alliance. (2006). DETAILS Questionnaire. The LoTi Connection. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from http://www.loticonnection.com/DETAILS.html
National Business Education Alliance. (2006). Handout Modules. The LoTi Connection. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from http://www.loticonnection.com/freehandouts.html
NC DPI Instructional Technology Division. (2006). IMPACT: Guidelines for North Carolina Media and Technology Programs. Retrieved August 28, 2007, from http://www.ncwiseowl.org/impact/default.htm
NC DPI Instructional Technology Division. (2006). Technology Facilitator Job Description. Retrieved August 28, 2007, from http://www.ncwiseowl.org/kscope/impact/positions/tech_facilitators.html
Perkins, D. N. (1992). What Constructivism Demands of the Learner. In T. Duffy & D. Johnassen (Eds.) Constructivism and the Technology of Instruction: A Conversation (pp. 161-165). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Rakes, G., Fields, V., & Cox, K. (2006). The Influence of Teacher’s Technology Use on Instructional Practices. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(4), 409-424. Retrieved August 28, 2007, from ProQuest.
Schmoker, M. (2000). Standards Versus Sentimentality: Reckoning – Successfully – with the Most Promising Movement in Modern Education. NASSA Bulletin, 84(620), 49-60. Retrieved April 10, 2008, from http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/pqdweb?index=0&did=67471345&SrchMode=2&sid=2&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1211130425&clientId=13118.
Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: new tools, new schools. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.