Thursday, October 6, 2011

Factors influencing technology integration in learning...

There are two deliverables required for our Introduction to Technology class this week. The first is to set up an account with an online photo service, if we don't already have one, and provide the link to our photos. I have several services, but I pretty much only use Flickr. I upgraded to pro last year sometime and have uploaded both photos and videos. My photostream is available at:

The second deliverable is to write a reflective response to a technology application question asked at the end of Chapter 3, A History of Instructional Design and Technology, in the book Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012). The application questions and reflective responses are below:

Technology Application
During the previous school year, all the students assigned to four subject area teachers (math, language arts, social studies, and science) in the seventh grade at a local middle school were given laptop computers and provided with wireless Internet access at home and in school for an entire year. The students took the laptops home every evening and brought them into classes every day. Teachers were also provided with laptops and wireless Internet access 24/7 (24 hours a day, every day of the week) for the entire year. Moreover, all of the curriculum materials (textbooks, workbooks, student study guides, teacher curriculum guides, etc.) that the teachers normally used during the school year were installed on the laptops.

Assume that you were assigned as one of the evaluators for the project described above and that throughout the year you examined how this innovation (providing teachers and students with 24/7 access to laptops, curriculum materials, and wireless Internet service) changed the way instruction was presented in the classrooms of the four teachers who were involved in the project. Further assume that your findings clearly indicated that the innovation had very little effect on the manner in which instruction was presented in the teacher's classrooms. Now do the following:

a. Describe at least three possible reasons (factors) why the project described above had very little effect on the instructional practices employed by the teachers. Each of the factors you identify should be related to the factors mentioned in this chapter as to why earlier forms of instructional media (i.e., films, radio, and television) had very limited effects on instructional practices.

b. Describe at least two strategies that could have been employed to help mitigate the factors that you think contributed to the minimal effect this project had on instructional practices. Indicate why you think each of these strategies might have been helpful.

Reflective Response to "a"
There were various factors noted by the authors for why the instructional media consisting of films, radio, and television) had minimal impact on education. Some of the factors effecting adoption of instructional film were "teacher resistance to change, the difficulty teachers had in operating film equipment, the paucity and poor instructional quality of relevant films in many subject areas, and the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining films and equipment." Radio experienced some similar, and yet different issues such as "poor equipment, poor reception of radio signals, scheduling problems and teacher resistance to change." Television, although quite popular at first, also didn't change education in the way it first was expected to. One of the main factors effecting this was teacher resistance, particularly when "mandated by school administrators with little or no input from teachers." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). Additional factors effecting the adoption of instructional television were "the mediocre instructional quality of many of the television programs (many of them did little more than present a teacher delivering a lecture), the expense of installing and maintaining television systems in schools, and failure to provide teachers with adequate guidance as to how to integrate the use of instructional television into their practices." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

From the description provided above of the 24/7 project, there are some similarities between the lack of adoption of today's technology and the technology of yesteryear. As the evaluator of the program, I would suggest that the factors are teachers resistance to change, failure to provide training to the teachers on how to use the equipment and on how to integrate the technology into their daily practices, and difficulty with equipment. If adequate and relevant training is provided to the teachers, oftentimes resistance to the change is lessened if not removed, because most teachers want to be the best teacher they can be and if they can see how the use of the technology could improve learning outcomes and if they can get to the point of being comfortable with using the technology, they will accept the changes, if not promote them. On the other hand, if they are not shown relevant ways in which they can integrate the technology or if the technology integration doesn't show a significant difference in learning outcomes, than understanding why they should integrate it will not be clear and there will be resistance.

Reflective Response to "b"
First of all, when providing all of these laptops, programs, and wireless Internet to the teachers and students, I would have recommended that basic training on the laptop and programs be provided to the teachers and students to get them comfortable with the laptop and the various programs they would be using. I would also recommend setting up a 24/7 technical helpdesk to support the teachers and students. I expect the teachers and students would be more willing to use the laptop/programs more often if they knew they could receive help right away for any technical difficulties. And finally, I would suggest that the instructors also receive some type of ongoing staff development and training on integrating the technology into their daily practices. If these strategies had been implemented, I expect the program would have been much more effective.

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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