Technology in the Classroom: Teachers and Technology: A Technological Divide

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Universitat Politcnica de Valncia]On: 26 October 2014, At: 23:25Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Childhood EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uced20

    Technology in the Classroom: Teachers and Technology: ATechnological DivideGregory Clarke Sr. a & Jesse Zagarell ba Forever Young Daycare, Site #2 , Bronx , New Yorkb Family Services of Westchester , White Plains , New YorkPublished online: 01 Mar 2012.

    To cite this article: Gregory Clarke Sr. & Jesse Zagarell (2012) Technology in the Classroom: Teachers and Technology: A TechnologicalDivide, Childhood Education, 88:2, 136-139, DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2012.662140

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00094056.2012.662140

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  • 136 \ Childhood Education

    The education system in the United States continues to grapple with adapting to change, especially when it comes to integrating technology in the curriculum. At times, it appears as if technology is the Kryptonite to the education systems Superman. Yelland (2001) argued that traditional educational environments do not seem to be suit-able for preparing learners to function or be productive in the workplaces of todays society. In a country that is falling behind the rest of the world in education and technology (Fischer, 2009), it has become increasingly important to merge the two. Computers began to be placed in schools in the early 1980s, and several researchers suggest that in-formation and communications technology (ICT) will be an important part of education for the next generation too (Bingimlas, 2009, p. 235). Th e United States needs to use its resources to stay competitive in the increasingly technological world, particularly in the classroom. Lefebvre, Deaudelin, and Loiselle (2006) posit that up-to-the-minute technology is a tool that can positively aff ect teaching and learning in the classroom. Th e only way to give our students a successful opportunity in the world market is to bridge the technological divide that exists in our schools. Th e technological divide is a complex problem without a simple solution. Individual educators remain the deciding factor in whether or not technology is successfully integrated into classrooms. Th e dynamic raises certain questions: Do schools implement technology to the same degree? How much technology should be utilized in classrooms? How technologically savvy are teachers? Why are some teachers resistant to technology? Teachers and administrators both may be at fault for the lack of implementation and integra-tion of technological advances. How do we bridge this educational divide? How do we support and promote using technology to teach students?

    Why a Technological Divide?According to National Center for Education Statistics (2000), nearly every public school in the United States has Internet access. Th is fi nding suggests that school leaders believe integration technology holds promise for improving student performance. Content standards that guide instruction have been ad-opted in all subject areas and are now used to focus instruc-tion in schools. Technology is no exception, as standards have been created for teachers, students, and administrators. Transformational leadership is needed to create the right atmosphere for technology application. Elmore (2000) be-lieves that the role of administrators is

    primarily about enhancing the skills and knowledge of people in the organization, creating a common culture of expectations around the use of those skills and knowledge, and holding the various pieces of the organization together in a productive relationship with each other and holding individuals accountable for their contributions to the collective result. (p. 15)

    As Macaulay (2009) posits, Technology can be a key aspect to promote transformational leadership in that it allows for more collaboration and interaction between stakeholders, promoting frequent and consistent avenues for communica-tion and decision-making (p. 9). A variety of factors may be at play in reference to the technology divide. Schools must sort out options from the diff erent technological vendors proposing service and man-agement of hardware and software. Administrators have some infl uence, but in the long run, it comes down to the availability of funds. Who is going to pay for the training? Can administrators absorb training costs, or is it educators responsibility to keep up with the rest of the technological world by seeking their own professional development? From the administrators perspective, teachers are required to use up-to-date technology and are expected to get the training to become profi cient in its use. Limited educa-tion budgets have prompted teachers to seek technological training on their own time and at their own expense. Some educators may have to collaborate with other teachers who

    Teachers and Technology: A Technological Divide

    by Gregory Clarke, Sr. and Jesse Zagarell

    Technology in the ClassroomNancy Maldonado, Editor

    Gregory Clarke, Sr., is Co-Owner, Head Teacher, Forever Young Daycare, Site #2, Bronx, New York, and Jesse Zagarell is Site Coordinator, Family Services of Westchester, White Plains, New York.

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  • March/April 2012 / 137

    are savvier in the use of technology, and learn to use other avenues of support (Jones, 2001).

    Administrators: Are Th ey the Root of the Problem?Principals are key facilitators in the eff ort to infuse technol-ogy in schools. Th erefore, technological training for prin-cipals, as well as for teachers, should be a priority (Holland & Moore-Steward, 2000). A study by Merkley, Bozik, and Oakland (1997) claims that leadership promoting change is the missing factor when it comes to merg-ing technology and instruction. No matter how much training teachers receive to pre-pare them for technology integration, most successfully employ that training without input from the principal (Awalt & Jolly, 1999; Maxwell, 1997; National Center for Education Statistics, 2000; Sandholtz, Ringstaff , & Dwyer, 1997). Th is training eventually goes for naught over a pro-longed period of time without consistent support of the administration. Th e United States Department of Education provided millions of dollars to universities, K-12 schools, state departments of education, and other educational agencies through an initiative known as Preparing Tomorrows Teachers To Teach With Technology (PT3; Groves, 2005). PT3 was meant to prepare preservice and inservice teachers to integrate technology in K-12 set-tings. Administrators, in general, support implementing technology, and that support infl uenced the implementation of PT3 projects in both teacher education programs and local K-12 schools. In some cases, however, administrators were barriers to successful grant implementation (Boccia, 2003; Hall, Fisher, Musanti, & Halquist, 2006). Problems occurred as a result of a large turnover among grant personnel (Groves, 2005; Hall et al., 2006), or the need to focus on other priorities, such as accreditation (McMurray State University, 2004). In some cases, K-12 administrators expressed an initial interest in participating, but once the grant was funded, they report-ed that the PT3 project no longer aligned with their districts goals (Hall et al., 2006; McMurray State University, 2004). So the question remains, what is the best way to infuse tech-nology into education systems?

    Resistance:Blame Th ose Teachers?Teachers bear the burden of the technological divide that ex-ists in school systems. Th e expectation remains that teachers are responsible for enhancing their teaching methodology by all means, particularly in technology. Can anyone else think of an employment sector other than K-12 and postsecond-ary education where employees have the right to refuse to use technology? But in education, we plead and implore and

    incentivize but we never seem to require (McLeod, 2008, as cited in Laderas-Kilkenny, 2008, 1). While teachers need to adapt to technology, the problems go far deeper than teachers alone. Is it lack of training, knowledge, and support, or is that that ICT is not compatible with the education sys-tem as it is currently constituted? While there is a general perception that teachers are be-ing resistant to the integration of ICT into schools, What should not go without noticing is that there was no ideologi-cal opposition to ICT school introduction. Teachers seem to

    have totally accepted the necessity of ICT use in teaching (Demetriadis et al., 2003, p. 28). Th e resistance is not about using ICT in classrooms and lessons; it is a response to so many shortcomings with the education systems implementa-tion and subsequent requirements. Resistance to change seems not to be a barrier itself; instead, it is an indication that something is wrong (Bingimlas, 2009, p. 238). Th e only way to bridge the technological divide is to understand which problems teachers face and how those problems aff ect their attitude toward technology.

    Teachers Lack of Knowledge/Lack of TrainingIt is essential to understand that this is a multi-tier conun-drum. Many teachers feel they are technologically savvy, especially those who have been raised with technology as part of their everyday lives. Th ose more familiar with technology have been dubbed the NET generation (as in Internet) or digital natives. Digital natives are considered to be more comfortable with digital technology than previous genera-tions. Educators have pointed out that digital natives use technology diff erently and learn diff erently from their parents and teachers (Lei, 2009, p. 87). What has been discovered, however, is that many of these digital natives have only super-fi cial experiences with technology. Many can word-process or social network on Facebook, Twitter, etc., but have no deeper understanding of how technology works. Th e great majority of teachers were complete novices and their inter-est focused primarily on the use of commonly used software tools (word processor, spreadsheet, Web browsers, search ma-chines) (Demetriadis et al., 2003, p. 27). Th us, several questions and problems arise for each group.

    Some basic fundamental confl icts exist between implementation of new technologies and the overall culture of the education system.

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  • 138 \ Childhood Education

    For example, digital natives have more confidence in their abilities than teachers who have less computer experience. Overconfidence can become a problem, however, as these users may feel they do not need training in ICT. In many cases, these teachers may experience technological glitches or problems and thus need excellent technical support. Others may be intimidated by the technology and, thus, are reluctant to use it in their classrooms. Bectas survey of practitioners (2004) (as cited in Bingimlas, 2009) shed light on the fact that lack of confidence was the problem most par-ticipants identified. These teachers require extensive training and support systems to be able to acclimate themselves to the new technology. Without effective training, many of these teachers will continue to use the same methods of teaching they have always used. Effective training is the only way for teachers to learn how to utilize the technology to augment their lessons. One study indicated that teachers do not have sufficient effective training opportunities in the use of ICT in the classroom environment (Pelgrum, 2001, cited in Bingimlas, 2009, p. 239). Newhouse (2002, as cited in Bingimlas, 2009) argued that initial training is needed for teachers to develop appro-priate skills, knowledge, and attitudes regarding the effec-tive use of computers to support learning by their students. Without proper training and continuing workshops to keep them abreast of new technological advances, many teachers will experience problems that will increase their feelings of intimidation. Balanskat, Blamire, and Kefala (2006) also found that limitations in ICT knowledge make teachers feel anxious about using ICT in their classrooms. The amount of technological support is probably one of the biggest issues that teachers and schools face when inte-grating new ICT. With many schools not employing a full-time or even part-time technical support person, most teach-ers are fearful that they will continue to experience problems. Technical barriers impeded the smooth delivery of the les-son or the natural flow of classroom activity (Sicilia, 2005, p. 43). Technical support is crucial to overcome these initial drawbacks. Any lack of it may significantly decrease teach-ers motivation to work with computers (Demetriadis et al., 2003, p. 32). The lack of technological support, combined with initial apprehension, creates a situation whereby teach-ers are reluctant to try using the ICT provided to them.

    ICT and the Education System: A ParadigmWhile the lack of training and technical support is cause for concern, the biggest concern is the inherent conflict bet...

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