Kickin It Old School…Tech in 2009

Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U. S. Public Schools, 2009: First Look provides national data on the availability and use of educational technology among teachers in public elementary and secondary schools.  The purpose is two-fold: (a) to determine the availability of technology and (b) to determine how often technology is used.  The teacher survey included: (a) information on the use of computers and Internet access in the classroom, (b) availability and use of computing devices and software, (c) availability of school or district networks including remote access by teachers and students, (d) use of educational technology, (e) teacher preparation for  educational technology in instruction, and (f) technology-related professional development activities.  

The survey was conducted through the Office of Educational Technology (OET) in the U.S. Department of Education (US DOE) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).  NCES developed a survey to ascertain what technology proficiency means in the public school system.  NCES used the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) to conduct these surveys.  FSRR collects issue-oriented data useful to educational analysts, planners, and decision makers.  2005 public schools in the United States were asked to provide lists of full time teachers. Surveys were mailed to 4133 teachers.  The survey findings presented a major difference in use of technology in high-income districts over low-income districts.  Teachers reported increased use of technology is more common in middle and high school rather than elementary school.  Teachers reported that the following activities prepared them to make effective use of educational technology: (a) professional development activities, (b) training provided by tech support or integration staff, and (c) independent learning.  Teachers reported that they used blogs, wikis, and other social media for parent and student communication as well as class assignments.  Teachers indicated the school network was available for entering or viewing the following: (a) grades (94 percent), (b) attendance records (93 percent), and (c) the results of student assessments (90 percent).

School Leadership and Technology Challenges: Lessons from a New American High School is an article originally presented in the American Association of School Administrators Journal.  The authors investigated the challenges that school staff face in high schools undertaking large-scale technology reform.  The researchers studied an American comprehensive high school in southeastern United States.  Editors of several leading education technology journals have observed that site-based research on instructional technology in schools is rare (Schrum, Thompson, Sprague, Maddux, McAnear, Bell, & Bull, 2005).  This evidence-based practice article helped address the gap in the literature by presenting thematic findings from a study of technology reform at an American high school.  Due to a poor network infrastructure, school administrators and teachers used “workarounds” that alleviated technology problems while seeking to create innovative technology-infused instructional practices.  The research team consisted of university faculty and graduate students with K12 administrative experience who were not staff at the study site.  The study was conceived was non-experimental and specifically designed to follow the qualitative approaches of Cuban, Kirkpatrick, and Peck (2001). The onsite research included observations of predominant technology practices in classrooms, media spaces, hallways, and large common spaces (e.g., library cafeteria, gymnasium).  To augment understanding, the researchers conducted interviews with classroom teachers, technology integration, and tech support staff.  The researchers concluded that three issues existed: (a) an inadequate network structure that negatively affected technology implementation; (b) teachers’ conflicting obligation to encourage and police student technology use due to an unsatisfactory firewall, and (c) a digital media culture which gave students access to online resources.  Based on the study, researchers could not predict whether instructional technology reform is a disruptive innovation that will radically alter schooling (Christensen, et al., 2008) or whether the widespread rethinking of education‖ will result from technological advances (Collins & Halverson, 2009).

Are we there yet?  Teachers, Schools and Electronic Networks explored teacher use of school networks in primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom (UK).  In the UK, teachers made less use of electronic networks to develop their professional practice.  Researchers hoped to discover what factors encouraged the development and sharing of best practice and use of electronic networking.  A range of data about the use of electronic networks, tools, and resources were collected that included: (a) a survey of over 250 teachers, (b) an audit of participating schools’ information technology infrastructures and available resources, and (c) semi-structured interviews.  Researchers discovered that while use of information technology (IT) is a well-established element of classroom practice, teachers made less use of electronic networks to develop their professional practice.  Researchers found that more professional development needs to be done to provide resources, services and online environments that support knowledge creation about teaching and learning. While school administrators verbalized the possible uses of the school network, teachers do not understand them.  School administrators need to provide additional professional development on the possible uses of the school network.  Researchers found that one exception was that email, phone calls and text messaging appeared to have become embedded in the daily professional lives of many of the study participants.

Enabling School Networking builds on the activities and experience of the longest established European initiative called the European Schoolnet regarding information, communication, and technology (ICT).  The purpose of the study was an examination of how schools make strategic and effective use of ICT to improve educational outcomes as well as how school networks support best the use of technology in learning.  Researchers sought to explain the impact of ICT on students engaged in the teaching and learning process and their achievements, as well as the impact on teachers in terms of their own instructional practice and professional development.  The researchers examined a meta-analysis of 17 impact studies including national evaluations of ICT initiatives, ICT monitor reports, large and small technology implementations, national research reviews, international and European comparisons, as well as European case studies.  Researchers concluded that ICT improves the achievement levels of students in science, design, and technology at age 7 through 16.  There was a positive association between the length of time that ICT was used and students’ performance in mathematics.  The mathematics results were based on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).  Researchers also discovered that students, teachers, and parents agree that ICT has a positive impact on student learning.  In the European Schoolnet, researchers found that 90% of teachers use ICT to prepare their lessons.  Additionally, teachers use ICT to collaboratively prepare lessons with colleagues.

In Learning without Limits: the Promise of High-Speed Learning Networks for Rural and Inner-city Communities, researchers examined whether Web 2.0 technologies promote collaboration and participation between students, teachers, and experts outside the school and the local community.  A major 21st Century challenge for schools is to provide a school network infrastructure that can support up-to-date applications that require fast synchronous bandwidth speeds.  The researchers explored the premise that connecting institutions through a high-speed learning network benefits students with the promise of individualized learning and digital opportunities to pursue academic interests.  The researchers examined two projects: (a) project one was conducted in remote rural communities in Canada where linking classes across schools to share teaching and learning resources makes possible a wider range of academic subjects available to students in very small schools, and (b) project two was conducted in a major New Zealand city where benefits of aggregating learning across a network and linking schools to other institutions was investigated (Craig & Stevens, 2011).  The researchers considered the outcomes for students, the implications for teachers, and the concept of the traditional standalone school.  Researchers found that although school districts exist mainly as self-governing stand alone institutions, collaboration between districts may provide high-speed networks as a shared resource, which will provide educational and economic opportunities.  In the case of technology finance and procurements, this was particularly true of sharing servers to store resources but also minimizing the risk of making bad technical decisions that could prove costly.  Researchers found that urban and rural schools may need to collaborate so their students are working in an open online learning environment with the flexibility of anytime, anywhere learning provides a wide range of academic opportunities.  The future organization of school networking lies in aggregated networks, not competition between autonomous institutions.  No rural, urban, or inner school will be able to stand alone in terms of ICT (Newton, 2009).

References

Carmichael, P., & Procter, R. (January 01, 2006). Are we there yet? Teachers, schools and electronic networks. Curriculum Journal, 17, 2, 167-186.

Christensen, C. M., Horn, M. B., & Johnson, C. W. (2008). Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology: The digital revolution and schooling in America. New York: Teachers College Press.

Craig, B., & Stevens, K. (December 01, 2011). Learning without limits: The promise of high-speed learning networks for rural and inner-city communities. International Journal of Learning, 18, 1, 537-550.

Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (January 01, 2001). High Access and Low Use of Technologies in High School Classrooms: Explaining an Apparent Paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38, 4, 813-834.

Gray, L., Thomas, N., Lewis, L., Tice, P., & National Center for Education Statistics. (2010). Teachers’ use of educational technology in U.S. public schools, 2009: First look. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Dept. of Education.

Newton, Charles. (2009). “The Place of the Loops in the NEN: Sabbatical Report.” Ministry of Education: Wellington. Retrieved on 2 February, 2014 from www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Charles%20Newton%20Sabbatical%20Report.pdf

Peck, C., Mullen, C. A., Lashley, C., & Eldridge, J. A. (March 07, 2012). School Leadership and technology challenges: Lessons from a new American high school. Aasa Journal of Scholarship & Practice, 7, 4, 39-51.

Schrum, L., Thompson, A., Sprague, D., Maddux, C., McAnear, A., Bell, L., & Bull, G. (January 01, 2005). Advancing the Field: Considering Acceptable Evidence in Educational Technology Research. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 5, 3.)

Scimeca, S., Dumitru, P., Durando, M., Gilleran, A., Joyce, A., & Vuorikari, R. (December 01, 2009). European Schoolnet: Enabling School Networking. European Journal of Education, 44, 4, 475-492.