Sunday, October 28, 2007

Teacher Beliefs of Technology

When doing some research while writing an article and for a series of graduate school papers, the following themes seemed to jump out at me:

1. Teacher's beliefs of teaching (pedagogy) and student learning (epistemology) affect teacher technology adoption.
2. Teachers who engage in more teacher-led pedagogy adopt less technology.
3. Teachers who leverage constructivist-centric pedagogy have a tendency to use more technology.
4. Teacher's beliefs and values are not hardened systems; however, they are complex and prone to revision.
5. The richness of an environment (technology, support, quality, quantity) can change a teacher's beliefs and values in learners and pedagogy.
6. The manner in which technology is presented-teacher-centered or student-centered-impacts those teachers holding differing views.
7. Web 2.0 and 21st century skills are collaborative in nature; thus they are constructivist. This collaborative and constructivist nature of the technologies require teachers to adopt their beliefs which brings us back to theme #1.

The focus of my research has been on teacher technology adoption, its influencers, and detractors. This is fascinating to me since as I have remarked in much of my other writing, this research can shed light on why there can be such differences in technology adoption just in the same hallway of a school. Secondly, this for me is the "root issue" at hand with 21st century skills and web 2.0. We can show the coolest tools, in the coolest ways, to teachers espousing the need for students to learn these skills but it takes a teacher to believe that the technology they are using is better than the way they are using to teach the content.

In the 12 years I have been giving and around technology inservicing, the "oh, wows" are common when showing a new tool. But I don't think we can judge the effectiveness of our training on that response alone. While it gives me optimism and excitement, to this day, to hear these responses, day-two adoption doesn't always correspond.

What surprises me is that our dialogs don't involve teacher's beliefs or the human nature surrounding technology adoption. And when it does, it involves a great deal of negativity - teacher apathy, not willing to do the work, or not smart enough to get the technicalities. This isn't to say there aren't many dedicated people doing many great things; there are! Just look at sites like Classroom 2.0 where dedication, dialog, and creativity abound among in this amazing community.

Literacy today as defined web 2.0:new tools, new schools by Solomon and Schrum is

"acquiring new skills, including those using technology, understanding science, having global awareness, and most important, having the ability to keep learning, which involves gathering, analyzing, synthesizing, and presenting information as well as communication and collaborating"

The mechanics of implementing such literacy is approaching teachers as technology consumers with choices and complex, fluid beliefs that drive their technology adoption. Also, key to this discussion is the fact that for many teachers, including me, comprehension in web 2.0, collaboration, and constructivism requires participation in web 2.0, collaboration, and constructivism.

A new way of learning, teaching takes time to get our heads around and that doesn't even include learning the technology that is instrumental in this new way of learning and teaching.

2 comments:

Chris Davison said...

Hi Edwin, I am a member of Classroom 2.0 on Ning and was just directed to your blog from one of your articles. Your writing is fascinating to me as I work for a UK based elearning services company (www.taecanet.com) and we have a fantastic service for schools with many benefits teachers and students can derive. However, it has been hard to convince teachers to make Taecanet part of their everyday toolkit with no particular rationale behind it. I will save your blog under my faves, and hope to benefit from your wisdom. Feel free to visit my blog at http://taecanet.blogspot.com/

Baylee said...

Thanks for writing this.