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Abstract

Despite increases in computer access and technology training, technology is not being used to support the kinds of instruction believed to be most powerful. In this paper, we examine technology integration through the lens of the teacher as an agent of change: What are the necessary characteristics, or qualities, that enable teachers to leverage technology resources as meaningful pedagogical tools? To answer this question, we discuss the literature related to four variables of teacher change: knowledge, self-efficacy, pedagogical beliefs, and subject and school culture. Specifically, we propose that teachers’ mindsets must change to include the idea that “teaching is not effective without the appropriate use of information and communication technologies (ICT) resources to facilitate student learning.” Implications are discussed in terms of both teacher education and professional development programs.
Teacher Technology Change:
How Knowledge, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect
Peggy A. Ertmer
Purdue University
3134 Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education
100 N. University St.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2098
Fax: 765-496-1622
Phone: 765-494-5675
Email: pertmer@purdue.edu
Anne T. Ottenbreit-Leftwich
Indiana University
2220 Wright Education Building
201 N. Rose Ave.
Bloomington, IN 47905
Phone: 812-856-8486
Email: left@indiana.edu
Teacher Technology Change 2
Teacher Technology Change:
How Knowledge, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect
Abstract
Despite increases in computer access and technology training, technology is not being used to support the
kinds of instruction believed to be most powerful. In this paper, we examine technology integration
through the lens of the teacher as an agent of change: What are the necessary characteristics, or qualities,
that enable teachers to leverage ICT resources as meaningful pedagogical tools? To answer this question,
we discuss the literature related to four variables of teacher change: knowledge, self-efficacy beliefs,
pedagogical beliefs, and subject and school culture. Specifically, we propose that teachers’ mindsets must
change to include the idea that ‘teaching is not effective without the appropriate use of ICT resources.’
Implications are discussed in terms of both teacher education and professional development programs.
Teacher Technology Change 3
Teacher Technology Change:
How Knowledge, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect
Recent national (CDW-G, 2006) and international (Voogt, 2008) reports paint a promising picture
of classroom teachers’ current efforts to use technology to support student learning. For example, among
the 1000 teachers who responded to the Teachers Talk Tech survey, 790 teachers (79%) self-reported
using computers “to teach students” (CDW-G). However, other research, resulting from both large
(Project Tomorrow, 2008) and small-scale (Bauer & Kenton, 2005) efforts, suggests that we still have not
solved the problem of technology integration (Mueller, Wood, Willoughby, Ross, & Specht, 2008) either
in the US or internationally (Kozma, 2003; Tondeur, van Braak & Valcke, 2007a; Smeets, 2005). That is
to say, technology is not being used to support the kinds of instruction (e.g., student-centered) believed to
be most powerful (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], 2008; Partnership for 21
st
Century Learning, 2007).
No doubt, teachers have increased their personal and professional uses of computers (Project
Tomorrow, 2008; van Braak, Tondeur, & Valcke, 2004). In response to the Teachers Talk Tech survey
(CDW-G, 2006), 88% of the teachers reported using technology for administrative tasks, while 86%
reported using technology for communication tasks. Similarly, 93% of the teachers who responded to the
Speak Up 2007 survey (n = 23,756 / 25,544) reported using technology to communicate with colleagues
or parents (Project Tomorrow, 2008).
Alongside these increases in teachers professional uses are increases in the reported instructional
uses of computers in the classroom (National Education Association, 2008; Project Tomorrow, 2008).
Unfortunately, when we look closer at these data, reported uses still tend to be “low-level” (Russell,
Bebell, O’Dwyer, & O’Connor, 2003; Maddux & Johnson, 2006), that is, those that support traditional,
teacher-directed instruction (e.g., using PowerPoint to present a lesson, searching the Web for information
resources) or that focus on the development of students’ technical skills (Tondeur, van Braak, & Valcke,
2007b). Based on the results of the Speak Up 2007 national survey (Project Tomorrow, 2008), 51% of the
responding teachers (n = 13027 / 25,544) reported that their primary uses of technology to “facilitate
Teacher Technology Change 4
student learning” comprised 1) asking students to complete homework assignments using the computer
(e.g., writing reports, finding information on the Internet) and 2) assigning practice work at the computer
(e.g., using drill and practice software). This is verified, to some extent, by the large percentage of
students (grades 6-12), taking the same survey, who reported using technology to 1) write assignments
(74%), 2) conduct online research (72%), and check assignments or grades online (58%).
Technology Integration for 21
st
Century Learners
It is no longer appropriate to suggest that these types of uses are adequate to meet the needs of the
21
st
century learner. Using technology simply to support lecture-based instruction falls far short of
recommended best practice (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007; Partnership for 21
st
Century Skills, 2007;
Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 2005). And while survey data may suggest that the “teaching process is
fundamentally changing as professional development is taking teachers from learning how computers
work to using technology to change how they teach” (CDW-G, 2006, emphasis added), current data from
classroom observations (Andrew, 2007; Bauer & Kenton, 2005; Schaumburg, cited in Schulz-Zander,
Pfeifer, & Voss, 2008) do not support this view. Even among teachers who claim to have student-
centered, constructivist practices, technology uses are described as not being particularly powerful or
innovative (Cuban, Kirkpatrick, & Peck; 2001; Hermans, Tondeur, van Braak, & Valcke, 2008).
To achieve the kinds of technology uses required for 21
st
century teaching and learning (Lai,
2008; Law, 2008; Thomas & Knezek, 2008), we need to help teachers understand how to use technology
to facilitate meaningful learning (i.e., learning that enables students to construct deep and connected
knowledge). While “technology can make it quicker or easier to teach the same things in routine ways,” it
also makes it possible to “adopt new and arguably better approaches to instruction and/or change the
content or context of learning, instruction, and assessment” (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007, p. 581). These
latter uses are precisely the ones that the majority of today’s teachers find most challenging, perhaps
because they require the most amount of change.
Teacher Technology Change 5
Addressing Teacher Change
Issues of teacher change are central to any discussion of technology integration. In general, when
teachers are asked to use technology to facilitate learning, some degree of change is required along any or
all of the following dimensions: (a) beliefs, attitudes, or pedagogical ideologies; (b) content knowledge;
(c) pedagogical knowledge of instructional practices, strategies, methods, or approaches; and (d) novel or
altered instructional resources, technology, or materials (Fullan & Stiegelbauer, 1991). When thinking
about technology as an innovation, Fisher (2006) cautioned against viewing technology as an agent of
change. Rather, he argued that teachers must assume this role. Harris (cited in Brinkerhoff, 2006) noted
that “using technology as a ‘Trojan horse’ for educational reform has succeeded in only a minority of K-
12 contexts” (pp. 39-40). In this paper we follow Fisher’s lead to take a closer look at change through the
lens of the individual as an agent of change: What are the necessary characteristics, or qualities, of
teachers that enable them to leverage ICT (information and communication technologies) resources as
meaningful pedagogical tools? Following this we ask, ‘How can schools support teachers’ efforts?
“Teachers have been shown to be conservative as a group. They tend to rely on traditional
teaching methods and ‘reflexively resist’ curricular and instructional innovation” (Ponticell, 2003, p. 15).
Although teachers might believe that technology helps them accomplish professional and/or personal
tasks more efficiently, they are hesitant to incorporate the same tools into the classroom for a variety of
reasons including the lack of relevant knowledge (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007), low self-efficacy
(Mueller et al., 2008), and existing belief systems (Ertmer, 2005; Hew & Brush, 2007; Subramaniam,
2007). Furthermore, the context in which teachers work often constraints or limits individual efforts
(Roehrig, Kruse, & Kern, 2007; Somekh, 2008). We discuss each of these variables in more detail.
Knowledge as a Key Variable
As described by Borko and Putnam (1995), teacher knowledge has been shown to have a
significant impact on teachers’ decisions:
Teachers’ thinking is directly influenced by their knowledge. Their thinking, in turn,
determines their actions in the classroom. Thus, to understand teaching, we must study
Teacher Technology Change 6
teachers’ knowledge systems; their thoughts, judgments, and decisions; the relationships
between teachers’ knowledge systems and their cognitions; and how these cognitions are
translated into action. Similarly, to help teachers change their practice, we must help
them to expand and elaborate their knowledge systems (p. 37).
For more than 20 years, teacher knowledge has been conceptualized using the framework
advanced by Lee Shulman (1986; 1987). According to Shulman (1986), teacher knowledge includes
knowledge of the subject (content knowledge-CK), knowledge of teaching methods and classroom
management strategies (pedagogical knowledge-PK), and knowledge of how to teach specific content to
specific learners in specific contexts (pedagogical content knowledge-PCK). In addition to these three
commonly discussed categories, Shulman (1987) described four other categories which, together with the
first three, comprise the “knowledge base of teaching:” knowledge of the materials for instruction,
including visual materials and media (curricular knowledge); knowledge of the characteristics of the
learners, including their subject-related preconceptions (learner knowledge); knowledge of educational
contexts, including classrooms, schools, district, and beyond (context knowledge); and knowledge of
educational goals and beliefs.
Although media are mentioned in Shulman’s definition of curricular knowledge (1986),
technology skills and knowledge receive only cursory mention, at best. One of the unintended
consequences of this definition, then, is that when teacher educators and inservice and preservice teachers
think about what they need to know to be good teachers, technology is not even considered (Fajet, Bello,
Leftwich, Mesler, & Shaver, 2005). In other words, teachers can think they are doing a great job, even if
they or their students never use technology. While this may have been true 20 years ago, this is no longer
the case. We need to broaden our conception of good teaching to include the idea that teaching is effective
only when combined with relevant ICT tools and resources.
In order to use technology effectively in the classroom, teachers need additional knowledge and
skills that build on, and intersect with, those that Shulman (1986) described. This additional knowledge
has been conceptualized in a variety of ways including TPCK (technological pedagogical content
Teacher Technology Change 7
knowledge; AACTE, 2008; Pierson, 2001), PTICK (pedagogical technology integration content
knowledge; Brantley-Dias, Kinuthia, Shoffner, DeCastro, & Rigole, 2007); and ICT-TPCK (a strand of
TPCK that specifically emphasizes relevant knowledge of information and communication technologies;
Angeli & Valanides, 2009). According to Angeli and Valanides, these models are founded on the
common principle that effective technology integration depends on a consideration of the interactions
among technology, content, and pedagogy. That is, technology integration requires that pre- and inservice
teachers understand: 1) the technology tools, themselves, combined with 2) the specific affordances of
each tool that, when used to teach content, enable difficult concepts to be learned more readily.
First, teachers need knowledge of the technology itself. “Technological literacy has fast become
one of the basic skills of teaching” (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007, p. 580). If teachers are going to be able
to prepare their students to be technologically capable, they need to have, at the very least, basic
technology skills. This expectation is reflected in the NETS-T standards (ISTE, 2008), first published in
1998. Since that time, NETS-T have been adopted by the National Council for the Accreditation of
Teacher Education (NCATE), as well as the vast majority of states (ISTE, 2003). Although most teachers
graduating today are likely to be “digital natives” (i.e., comfortable using a variety of technology tools),
the majority of inservice teachers is, or has been, expected to gain these skills through other means
(additional courses, workshops, peer collaborations, etc.). And, based on the survey data reported earlier
(CDW-G, 2006; Project Tomorrow, 2008; Voogt, 2008), a large number of teachers have complied.
However, simply knowing how to use a piece of hardware (e.g., digital camera) or a specific
software application (e.g., presentation tool, social networking site) is not enough to enable teachers to
use the technology effectively in the classroom. In fact, if this were true, there would be little, if any, gap
between teachers’ personal and instructional uses of technology. But knowing how to use the tools is only
the foundation. Teaching with technology requires teachers to expand their knowledge of pedagogical
practices across multiple aspects of the planning, implementation, and evaluation processes. For example,
when using technology as a pedagogical tool teachers must know how to: develop plans for teaching
software to students, select appropriate computer applications to meet the instructional needs of the
Teacher Technology Change 8
curriculum and the learning needs of their students, and manage computer hardware and software
(Coppola, 2004). According to Hew and Brush (2007), lack of technology-related management skills can
inhibit technology integration.
To use technology to support student-centered instruction, teachers need additional knowledge of
the content they are required to teach, the pedagogical methods that facilitate student learning, and the
specific ways in which technology can support students’ learning. For example, as teachers involve their
students in more interdisciplinary work, their content knowledge needs to grow. Pedagogical knowledge
also needs to expand to include ideas about how to “develop students’ abilities to work collaboratively or
to take control of their own learning in a ICT-rich environment(Webb & Cox, 2003, p. 277). Finally,
teachers need to understand the relationships between the affordances of a range of ICT resources and the
skills, concepts, and processes of a content domain (PCK). Based on their knowledge of both their
learners and the subject, teachers need to be able to select the most appropriate ICT resources to enable
their students to meet the required learning goals.
According to Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer (2010), in order for “optimal” technology integration to
occur, teachers need to know how to:
1. Identify which technologies are needed to support specific curricular goals
2. Specify how the tools will be used to help students meet and demonstrate those goals
3. Enable students to use appropriate technologies in all phases of the learning process including
exploration, analysis, and production
4. Select and use appropriate technologies to address needs, solve problems, and resolve issues
related to their own professional practice and growth (p. 10)
Unfortunately, learning about technology is equivalent to asking teachers to hit a moving target.
Teachers will never have “complete” knowledge about the tools available, as they are always in a state of
flux. This often results, then, in teachers being perpetual novices in the process of technology integration
(Mueller et al., 2008), which suggests the need for teachers to have strong self-efficacy for teaching with
technology. We discuss this variable next.
Teacher Technology Change 9
Self-Efficacy Beliefs as a Key Variable
Although knowledge of technology is necessary, it is not enough if teachers do not also feel
confident using that knowledge to facilitate student learning. This seems to be particularly true for novice
teachers. Piper (2003) reported a significant influence of self-efficacy on novice teachers’ classroom uses
of technology based on her survey of 160 elementary and secondary teachers. In fact, evidence suggests
that self-efficacy may be more important than skills and knowledge among teachers who implement
technology in their classrooms. Results from a small-scale study by Bauer and Kenton (2005) noted a
difference between the number of technology-using teachers who rated themselves highly confident
(n=14) and those who rated themselves as highly skilled (n=9). In a survey of 764 teachers, Wozney,
Venkatesh, and Abrami (2006), found that one of the two greatest predictors of teachers technology use
was their confidence that they could achieve instructional goals using technology. This suggests that time
and effort should be devoted to increasing teachers’ confidence for using technology, not just to
accomplish administrative and communicative tasks, but to facilitate student learning.
How do we help teachers gain this confidence? The most powerful strategy appears to be helping
teachers gain personal experiences that are successful (personal mastery), although other methods can
also increase self-efficacy (e.g., vicarious experiences, persuasion). As Mueller et al. (2008) noted,
“Although computer related variables, in general, continue to impact on teachers’ ability to integrate
technology, it is positive experiences with computers in the classroom context that build a teacher’s belief
in computer technology and confidence in its potential as an instructional tool” (p. 1533).
A number of suggestions for building computer or technology self-efficacy are offered in the
literature: giving teachers time to play with the technology (Somekh, 2008); focusing new uses on
teachers’ immediate needs (Kanaya, Light, & Culp, 2005; Zhao & Cziko, 2001); starting with small
successful experiences (Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2007); working with knowledgeable peers (Ertmer,
Ottenbreit-Leftwich, & York, 2006); providing access to suitable models (Albion, 1999; Ertmer, 2005);
and participating in a professional learning community (Putnam & Borko, 2000). In addition, because
“innovation and adaptation are costly in terms of the time needed to develop and establish new practices”
Teacher Technology Change 10
(Hennessey, Ruthven, & Brindley, 2005, p. 162), we need to assure that teachers are given adequate time
to make these desired changes.
Still, a sound knowledge base and strong self-efficacy for teaching with technology do not readily
manifest themselves as meaningful technology uses (Tillema, 1995). The results of the study by Wozney
et al. (2006), mentioned earlier, noted the strong influence of both confidence and perceived value on
technology classroom use, suggesting that self-efficacy, by itself, may not be enough. In addition,
teachers need to value technology as an instructional tool. Given this, it is important to investigate how
teacher beliefs underlie and support meaningful technology uses.
Pedagogical Beliefs as a Key Variable
Rokeach (1972) defined a belief as any proposition that begins with the phrase, ‘I believe that.’
Beliefs that have many connections are often referred to as core or central beliefs as many other beliefs
are based on, or have been shaped by, these beliefs: “The more a given belief is functionally connected or
in communication with other beliefs, the more implications and consequences it has for other beliefs
(Rokeach, 1972, p. 5). Thus, core beliefs will be the most difficult to change, as their connections to other
beliefs will likely need to be addressed as well (Richardson, 1996).
Teacher belief systems comprise a myriad of interacting, intersecting, and overlapping beliefs
(Pajares, 1992). According to Hermans et al., 2008, “Belief systems consist of an eclectic mix of rules of
thumb, generalizations, opinions, values, and expectations grouped in a more or less structured way” (p.
1500). Many have suggested that these belief systems influence how teachers use technology in the
classroom (Angers & Machtmes, 2005; Hermans et al., 2008; Windschitl & Sahl, 2002). In a study by
Haney, Lumpe, Czerniak, and Egan (2002), teacher beliefs were found to predict subsequent classroom
action for five of the six teachers observed. In general, teachers with more traditional beliefs implement
more traditional or ‘low-level’ technology uses, while teachers with more constructivist beliefs implement
more student-centered or ‘high-level’ technology uses (Judson, 2006; Roehrig et al., 2007). Hermans and
his colleagues noted “traditional beliefs had a negative impact on integrated use of computers” (p. 1499).
Teacher Technology Change 11
Longitudinal studies investigating teachers’ adoption of technology have described a
“pedagogical evolution” (Hennessey et al., 2005, p. 186) as teachers incorporate more technology into
their practices. Hennessey et al. described a “gradual but perceptible shift in subject practice and
thinking” (p. 186). Other researchers have reported similar findings (Hooper & Reiber, 1995; Levin &
Wadmnay, 2005; Mills & Tischner, 2003; Windschitl & Sahl, 2002). In a ten-year longitudinal study of
the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) program, teachers’ observations of changes in their students
prompted them to reflect on their current beliefs about teaching and learning, which then led to changes in
their beliefs (Sandholtz & Ringstaff, 1996; Sandholtz, Ringstaff, & Dwyer, 1997).
In addition to these pedagogical beliefs, there are beliefs attributed to value. Value beliefs
encompass the perceived importance of particular goals and choices (Anderson & Maninger, 2007). In
other words, teachers’ value beliefs with regards to technology are based on whether or not they think
technology can help them achieve the instructional goals they perceive to be most important (Watson,
2006). When a new pedagogical approach or tool is presented, teachers make value judgments about
whether that approach or tool is relevant to their goals. The more valuable they judge an approach or tool
to be, they more likely they are to use it. This is particularly true of technology (Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon, &
Byers, 2002). When teachers learn how to use technology within their specific content areas and/or grade
levels, they can more readily transfer that knowledge to their own classrooms (Hughes, 2005; Snoeyink &
Ertmer, 2001/2002). When learning experiences are focused solely on the technology itself, with no
specific connections to grade or content areas, teachers are unlikely to incorporate technology into their
practices. Hughes (2005) noted “the more content-specific the example, the more likely the teacher will
see value and learn it” (p. 295).
Beliefs act as a lens or filter when processing new information such as that obtained from
textbooks, knowledgeable others, or experience (Tillema, 1995). Early events (especially if particularly
unique or vivid) can color our perceptions of subsequent events (Nespor, 1987). Thus, new information
delivered through professional development programs is filtered through teachers belief systems before
being organized into existing knowledge structures. As Richardson (1996) noted: “the beliefs that
Teacher Technology Change 12
practicing teachers hold about subject matter, learning, and teaching [will] influence the way they
approach staff development, what they learn from it, and how they change” (p. 105). More specifically,
Tillema (1995) examined how teachers’ existing beliefs impacted the knowledge acquisition process
during a technology training program. Results indicated that a greater correspondence between teachers
beliefs and training content led to greater learning. Others have described similar results: in order for
teachers to incorporate new software or approaches into their existing knowledge structures, the uses first
must align with current beliefs (Hughes, 2005; Kanaya et al., 2005; Zhao & Frank, 2003).
Although beliefs can influence knowledge acquisition and use of technology, context also plays a
role in teachers’ uses of technology. Teacher beliefs have been shown to be heavily influenced by the
subject and school culture in which they participate. Windschitl and Sahl (2002) found teachers’
technology uses were strongly influenced by beliefs, but these beliefs were shaped by the context of their
institutions and profession: “The ways in which those teachers eventually integrated computers into
classroom instruction were powerfully mediated by their interrelated belief systems about learners in their
school, about what constituted ‘good teaching’ in the context of the institutional culture, and about the
role of technology in students’ lives” (p. 575).
Culture as a Key Variable
For many teachers, possessing the relevant knowledge, confidence, and beliefs is enough to
empower them to integrate technology into their classrooms in meaningful ways. We are probably all
familiar with teachers who have managed to be successful users, despite facing multiple barriers,
including the lack of support (Ertmer, Gopalakrisnan, & Ross, 2001). Yet, for the vast majority of
teachers, this is still not enough, as research indicates innovative teachers are easily overpowered by the
pressures to conform (Ponticell, 2003; Roehrig et al, 2007). “Teachers are not ‘free agentsand their use
of ICT for teaching and learning depends on the interlocking cultural, social and organizational contexts
in which they live and work” (Somekh, 2008, p. 450).
Maintaining membership in a group is important to people in general, and may be even more
important to teachers, given the particularly strong cultures that exist within schools (Ponticell, 2003;
Teacher Technology Change 13
Roehrig et al., 2007; Somekh, 2008). Zhao and Frank (2003) noted that a technology innovation was less
likely to be adopted if it deviated too greatly from the existing values, beliefs, and practices of the
teachers and administrators in the school. Conversely, changes in beliefs about technology use occurred
more readily among teachers who were socialized by their peers to think differently about computer use.
Brodie (2004) described this phenomenon of ‘culture pressure’ using the concept of meme, which
he defined as an “internal representation of knowledge that results in outward effects on the world” (p.
28). Simply put, a meme is a product of a culture that gets transmitted by repetition.
When people get immersed in a culture with strong memes, it tends to be a sink-or-swim
proposition. Either you change your mind, succumbing to peer pressure and adopting the
new memes as your own, or you struggle with the extremely uncomfortable feeling of
being surrounded by people who think you're crazy or inadequate. The fact that you
probably think the same about them is little consolation (Brodie, 2004, p. 48).
The pressure to belong doesn’t disappear after our adolescent years, but reappears in the form of
norms, values, and shared beliefs among individuals in work and social contexts. Each school, and even
each team of teachers within a school (discipline-based or grade-level based), has a set of norms that
guides behaviors and instructional practices. These norms address everything from which values and
goals are promoted, to which instructional methods are preferred, to which tools or resources are
acceptable to use (Hennessey et al., 2005). Given this, it’s not surprising thatTeachers are reluctant to
adopt a technology that seems incompatible with the norms of a subject culture” (Hennessey et al., p.
161).
One of the difficulties associated with introducing technology into the classroom is that it
“consistently destabilizes the established routines of classroom life including norms of time and space”
(Somekh, 2008, p. 452). Furthermore, experienced teachers who don’t see the value of integrating
technology into their classrooms can negatively impact the use of instructional technologies by newer
teachers (Abbott & Faris, 2000; Hazzan, 2003). For example, Hazzan examined novice high school
mathematics teachers attitudes toward integrating technology into their instruction. Results revealed how
Teacher Technology Change 14
perceptions of a negative undercurrent from veteran teachers toward such practices, discouraged novices
from using technology in their lessons.
Of course, culture or peer pressure can have positive results as well. For example, peer pressure
can provide the motivation we need to try things we otherwise wouldn’t. Somekh (2008) described three
schools (from three different countries) that enabled teachers to adopt technology in pedagogically
meaningful ways. According to the author, school-wide innovation occurred in situations in which “the
principal’s vision and motivation were of central importance” (p. 457) and the innovation led to achange
in the nature of teacher-teacher relationships, based on collaboration and mutual support” (pp. 457-58).
Additionally, all three schools were noted as having these characteristics:
1. They were well-equipped with ICT
2. Focus was on changing the process of learning using ICT
3. Skills were acquired as part of the process of using them purposefully
4. Support was provided
5. Teachers had opportunities to discuss problems with peers and facilitators and explore
solutions over time
6. Nature of students’ learning changed along with the established epistemologies
If a school doesn’t have these characteristics, it’s still possible that meaningful technology uses
can be initiated and supported by the subject culture to which a teacher belongs, particularly at the middle
and high school levels where teachers tend to work on grade level or discipline-based teams. In a recent
study, Howard (2008) found that in a hierarchical culture (such as that which exists in schools),
technology use was considered low risk as long as it was used in ways that were sanctioned by a person in
authority. Although in most elementary or primary schools this authority resides with the principal, in
middle and high schools this role is often shared with the leaders of discipline- or grade-level teams.
The underlying message here is that teachers’ knowledge and beliefs appear to interact with the
existing culture to create action. Ford (1992) proposed the concept of personal agency beliefs to explain
how self- efficacy and context beliefs combine to create agency, or action. According to Ford, personal
Teacher Technology Change 15
agency beliefs comprise “anticipatory evaluations” about whether one can achieve a goal, given 1) his/her
personal capabilities and 2) the responsiveness of the environment (p. 45). If the individual anticipates
that he/she will not be able to achieve the desired outcomes, due to constraints imposed by personal or
contextual factors, the specific action is likely to be halted, or not even undertaken at all.
The Intersection of Knowledge, Beliefs, and Culture: Implications for Practice
Literature related to teacher change, specifically related to technology integration, has focused
extensively on the variables discussed here: knowledge, self-efficacy and pedagogical beliefs, and culture.
When thinking about ways to change teachers’ technology practices, we need to consider all of these
factors or we are unlikely to be successful in influencing teacher change over the long term. Helping
teachers achieve the types of changes described will require a two-pronged approach – one that addresses
these changes during teacher education programs and one that addresses them during professional
development programs for practicing teachers. In this way, both sets of teachers can benefit from, and
contribute to, these new visions for teaching and learning. In the next section, we provide specific
suggestions for facilitating changes in teachers’ knowledge, confidence, and beliefs that have the potential
to create a sustainable culture of 21
st
century teaching and learning.
Implications for Teacher Education
Affecting knowledge change. It is generally acknowledged that preservice teachers need to have a
better understanding of how to use technology to facilitate learning (Angeli & Valanides, 2009). While
today’s students may be fairly knowledgeable about a variety of ICT tools, they have little to no
knowledge about how to use these tools in an instructional manner. Furthermore, they need to know how
to use these tools to facilitate student-centered instruction. “Teacher learning should prepare teachers not
only for any kind of ICT integration, but should equip teachers forbest practices’ in ICT integration that
contribute to improving existing teaching practice to achieve the goals of school reform” (Holland cited in
Law, 2008, p. 427; emphasis added).
During their teacher education programs, preservice teachers need to be challenged to adopt new
definitions of learning as well as new definitions of “good teaching.” As much as possible, new
Teacher Technology Change 16
definitions need to include the expectation that technology as a tool, process, or method will be an
integral component. While traditional definitions of learning have focused primarily on achievement, new
definitions focus on engagement, participation, and knowledge creation (Lai, 2008). Thus, preservice
teachers need to know 1) how to facilitate these types of learning outcomes among their future students,
and 2) how to use technology to support these goals. With this knowledge, then, will come new
understandings, as well as new definitions, of technology integration, which according to Brinkerhoff
(2006), have an impact on the manner in which teachers use technology in their classrooms.
One of the most powerful strategies we can use to help our preservice teachers gain the necessary
knowledge is to provide opportunities for them to observe a variety of examples and models (Albion,
2003; Ertmer et al., 2003; Zhao & Cziko, 2001). Given that new teachers are likely to have seen few
instances of technology integration, examples and models can provide needed knowledge about what
technology integration looks like. These examples can be modeled by methods faculty during teacher
education courses, as well as by supervising teachers during practicum or student teaching experiences.
Additionally, to help preservice teachers ‘own’ this knowledge, we need to provide opportunities
for them to practice these same or similar strategies, with real learners in real classrooms. For example,
Swain (2006) noted that although preservice teachers were knowledgeable about using educational
technologies, their reported teaching practices did not include the use of technology. Swain hypothesized
that preservice teachers were not able to translate ideas into practice as they “often do not see the ‘return
on investment’ when trying to integrate educational technologies into their lessons” (p. 56). Field
experiences provide one way to give preservice teachers the opportunity to test strategies, visually see the
consequences of their approaches, receive feedback, and adapt their practices to better integrate
technology into the K-12 classroom (Dawson & Norris, 2000; Simpson, 2006)
Affecting self-efficacy belief change. One of the explanations for the gap between what teachers
know and what they do relates to their confidence, or self-efficacy, for performing the task successfully.
As noted earlier, the most powerful source of efficacy information is personal mastery, followed by
Teacher Technology Change 17
vicarious experiences (Bandura, 1997). Both of these provide useful strategies for building confidence
among preservice teachers.
Although we might expect our current preservice teachers to be more prepared to use technology
than their inservice counterparts, this does not seem to be the case (Russell et al., 2003). Preservice
teachers still need opportunities to develop skills using technology as an instructional tool (Russell et al.).
This can be accomplished both within the college classroom (micro-teaching, simulated lessons), and
through field experiences (practica, student teaching). The more experiences students have, the more
likely they will be comfortable using technology to facilitate learning in their future classrooms.
Furthermore, they need to be able to experience the entire process of facilitating a technology-based
lesson, including handling the technical and management issues that commonly occur (Hew & Brush,
2007). These experiences will help students overcome their fear of making mistakes, and will also
illustrate the importance of persistence.
As noted earlier, having access to a wide variety of models can build knowledge of what
meaningful technology integration looks like. Additionally, observing successful others can also build
confidence in the observers who tend to believe “if he/she can do it, then I can too.” The more examples
our preservice teachers observe, the more likely they will gain both the knowledge and confidence they
need to attempt similar uses of technology in their own classrooms (Ertmer, 2005).
Affecting pedagogical belief change. Preservice teachers enter teacher education programs with
beliefs about teaching and learning that have been constructed from their own experiences as K-12
students, which for the most part, have been fairly teacher-directed (Bruner, 1996; Windschitl & Sahl,
2002). To change these established beliefs, teacher educators need to engage preservice teachers in
activities that explicate and challenge these beliefs.
Strategies suggested in the previous two sections are also relevant to affecting belief change. For
example, students need opportunities to reflect on and articulate their ideas about what makes a “good”
lesson and to discuss ways that technology fits within it. Students also would benefit from observing
classroom practices that are rooted in pedagogical beliefs that are different from their established beliefs,
Teacher Technology Change 18
thus providing new visions of what is possible (Ertmer, 2005). Perhaps most importantly, students need to
see that successful learning occurs when these beliefs are translated into instructional methods that are
supported by relevant ICT tools.
Unfortunately, even if preservice teachers leave their teacher education programs with student-
centered beliefs, they tend to revert to traditional practices when faced with the realities of the classroom
(Roehrig et al., 2007). Yet, in the presence of appropriate induction support, Luft, Roehrig, and Patterson
(cited in Roehrig et al.) reported that beginning teachers’ beliefs can be stabilized. This alludes to the
importance of the school culture, described next.
Affecting culture change. When considering the culture that impacts the development of
preservice teachers’ knowledge and beliefs, we need to consider the context in which they are prepared,
as well as the context in which they will teach. This suggests the need to consider the implicit messages
we send students about the importance of technology during preservice teacher education programs. Is
technology woven throughout our programs or is it relegated to a single, isolated course? Do the methods
faculty use technology to teach? Do methods faculty demonstrate and promote the use of technology to
teach relevant subject matter? Do field placement experiences include examples of ‘good teaching’ that
include the integration of technology? If technology is going to be an integral part of preservice teachers
images of good teaching, it needs to be pervasive throughout their programs. Several PT3 funded projects
stressed the importance of faculty modeling and so included faculty development as a goal (e.g., Brush et
al., 2003; Thompson, Schmidt, & Davis, 2003).
Novice teachers are particularly vulnerable to the pressures of the school culture they enter
(Abbott & Faris, 2000; Hazzan, 2003). According to a recent study published by the Tennessee
Department of Education (2007), teachers in high poverty/high minority schools actually become less
effective as they gain more experience. So, “while many of the beginning teachers in high poverty/high
minority schools are among the state’s most effective, many of them do not stay in these schools or they
lose their effectiveness over time” (p. 7). Although there may be other reasons for teachers’ loss of
effectiveness as they gain more experience, there is also the very real possibility that they simply adjust
Teacher Technology Change 19
their teaching styles to meet the “norms” of the existing culture – established by more experienced
teachers.
Preservice teachers need to be aware of the pressures they will face when they begin their
teaching careers and to possess effective strategies for addressing those that negate or undermine the new
knowledge, confidence, and beliefs gained. Prior to graduating, teacher educators might engage their
preservice teachers in discussions about ways to handle these pressures. For example, new teachers might
consider seeking out the technology leaders in the school and building positive relationships with them,
working on joint projects or collaborating on classroom projects. Additionally, they might consider
joining, or forming, a small community of teachers who are supportive of innovative teaching and
technology efforts. Having a supportive mentor is known to help acclimate new teachers into the school
culture, without pressuring them to conform (Brown & Warschauer, 2006).
Summary of preservice teacher change. During their teacher education programs, preservice
teachers are in the process of developing their pedagogical beliefs and practices. Still, they do not enter
the programs with blank slates; their understandings of good teaching are based on their experiences as K-
12 students. Teacher education programs may influence teacher technology change by creating a new
definition of good teaching, one that incorporates the use of technology to improve teaching and learning
practices. Within preservice teacher education programs, the following strategies have the potential to
address several of the key needs described earlier: presenting models of teaching with technology to
support new definitions, providing opportunities to implement new practices and receive feedback, and
providing opportunities to reflect on those practices. Overall, models and support from practitioners
appear critical to facilitating preservice teacher change, as well as seeing the relationship between good
teaching with technology and positive student outcomes.
Implications for Professional Development
Affecting knowledge change. Unlike preservice teachers, inservice teachers have existing
pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) on which to build. What they typically lack, however, is specific
knowledge about the technology itself, as well as how technology can be combined with their existing
Teacher Technology Change 20
PCK to support students’ content learning. Based on a review of the literature, Hew and Brush (2007)
concluded that effective professional development for technology integration requires a focus on content
that includes 1) technology knowledge and skills; 2) technology-supported pedagogy knowledge and
skills (the ability to see a clear connection between the technology being used and the subject content
being taught); and 3) technology-related classroom management knowledge and skills. Similarly,
Kennedy (cited in Kanaya et al., 2005) noted that the most important feature of a professional
development program is a strong focus on helping teachers understand how students learn specific
content, and how specific instructional practices and tools can support the learning process. Thus, when
introducing inservice teachers to specific technology tools, it is important that professional development
programs also include information about how these tools can be used in very specific ways to increase
student content learning.
The interaction between technology and PCK is most easily achieved by using teachers’ existing
knowledge as a springboard. That is, initial professional development efforts might emphasize technology
uses that directly align with teachers’ existing PCK knowledge (Ertmer, 2001), and that move teachers
forward in small incremental steps (Snoeyink & Ertmer, 2001/2002). One approach, described by Mishra
and Koehler (2006), is that of a design-based program in which teachers develop their technology skills in
the context of their curricular needs. Others (Cole, Simkins, & Penuel, 2002; Ertmer et al., 2005) have
incorporated mentoring or coaching components within professional development activities to target the
individual needs of teachers. However, these approaches can be challenging, especially since it takes
more time to individually design technology uses and professional development that cater to the needs of
individual teachers.
Inservice teachers also need to develop the knowledge and skills needed to manage a technology
rich classroom (Hew & Brush, 2007). When teachers encounter a new innovation they have been
observed to revert back to novice practices. For example, Pierson (1999) studied one experienced teacher
who was a novice technology user. Although the teacher typically implemented student-centered practices
in her classroom, when she taught technology-related lessons, she became much more teacher-directed. A
Teacher Technology Change 21
shift from teacher-directed to student-centered practice requires extended periods of time (e.g., Sandholtz
et al., 1997). Similarly, a change in teacher knowledge takes varying amounts of time depending on each
teacher’s existing technology and PCK knowledge. According to Kanaya et al (2005), the probability of
implementing new technology-rich activities in the classroom is related more to the intensity of the
training, as opposed to the duration. Therefore, when planning professional development programs, it is
important to consider how often and for how long teachers should meet, as well as for what period of
time. Research from Kanaya et al. seems to suggest it is possible to have an impact in a shorter period of
time if more time is allotted upfront.
Affecting self-efficacy belief change. Even if inservice teachers know how to use technology in
their classrooms, they may still lack confidence to actually use it (Mueller et al., 2008). Schrum (1999)
noted that teachers may “feel uncomfortable with technology and are fearful of looking foolish” (p. 85).
Self-efficacy can be developed through positive experiences with technology. However, these experiences
do not have to be personally experienced by the teacher; vicarious experiences also have the potential to
develop teacher self-efficacy (Smith, 2001). In other words, teachers can develop confidence by hearing
about or observing other teachers successful efforts. One way to accomplish this is to provide
opportunities for inservice teachers to share their success stories at staff meetings.
However, similar to affecting knowledge change, a change in teacher confidence can take an
extended amount of time (Brinkerhoff, 2006) and is best implemented in small steps (Kanaya et al.,
2005). Brinkerhoff found that after two years (90 hours) in professional development, teachers were less
fearful and more confident toward using technology. When professional development is spread over a
longer period of time, there is more time to experiment with new technologies in small doses. These small
implementations, then, are more likely to result in success, which is key to building self-efficacy
(Ringstaff & Yocam, 1994). Small steps could include introducing technology as part of a teacher’s
existing curriculum and/or using a familiar tool within a new lesson (Somekh, 2008). Administration can
also encourage teachers efforts by supporting experimentation. By providing opportunities to
Teacher Technology Change 22
experiment, teachers do not feel pressured to avoid failures, and are more likely to try new ideas in their
classrooms (Brinkerhoff).
Affecting pedagogical belief change. Inservice teachers are likely to have strong pedagogical
beliefs built from their previous experiences in the classroom. As noted by Pajares (1992) and others (e.g.,
Roehrig et al., 2007), beliefs formed early in life are very resistant to change, remaining virtually
unchanged over time, experiences, and education. According to Hughes (2005) and Ertmer (2005),
teacher beliefs are built from personal experiences (e.g., experiences as a K-12 student, teaching
experiences in their own classrooms), vicarious experiences (e.g., other teachers experiences), and
social/cultural influences (Richardson, 1996). Teachers have indicated that early successful experiences
have a strong influence on the subsequent development of their technology integration abilities (Ertmer,
Ottenbreit-Leftwich, & York, 2006). Others have also found that negative experiences (both personal and
vicarious) can impact teachers belief systems (Abbott & Faris, 2000; Hazzan, 2003). Experiences that are
successful in changing in beliefs usually occur when teachers are predisposed to the goals of the
professional development program (Holt-Reynolds, 1992; Krajcik et al., 1994; Richardson, 1996). In
other words, professional development initiatives that align with teacher beliefs are more likely lead to
teacher change.
If teachers are going to adopt new beliefs about teaching and learning, they need to understand
how these beliefs translate into classroom practices. As suggested by Zhao and Cziko (2001), observing
the successful practices of others can increase teachers’ perceived need for change, as well as increase
their understandings of what new practices look like. According to Elmore, Peterson, and McCarthy
(cited in Ertmer, 2005), “teachers’ practices are unlikely to change without some exposure to what
teaching actually looks like when it’s being done differently” (p. 34).
To truly change beliefs, teachers need to feel comfortable testing new ideas, based on these
beliefs, in their classrooms. In order to adopt technology as an innovation, teachers need to be willing to
take risks, remain flexible, and be open to change (Dexter & Greenhow, 2003; Ertmer et al., 2001; Zhao
et al., 2002). Although Raths (2002) suggested that changing teacher beliefs is “hopeless,” we are
Teacher Technology Change 23
convinced that when teachers are able to test new approaches in their classrooms and witness positive
student responses, it is possible not only to influence but actually to change, beliefs and practice
(Brinkerhoff, 2006; Borko & Putnam; Ertmer, 2005; Ringstaff & Yocam, 1994).
Affecting culture change. In general, inservice teachers’ beliefs and practices shift to align with
the current school culture in which they are working (Zhao & Frank, 2003). Therefore, school leadership
is a critical factor in facilitating teacher change. One of the primary roles of school leadership is to
support teachers and create a shared vision for technology use. The shared vision should place emphasis
on including technology as part of the definition of “good” teaching. This can be achieved by creating
standardized expectations articulated through professional development plans that include a technology
component. Giving teachers opportunities to engage in professional goal setting, specifically related to
technology, is important to teacher change (Somekh, 2008). Reio and Lasky (2007) suggested that
schools should create change-oriented environments supporting experimentation and innovation, as well
as include teachers in the decision-making process. Some suggestions for professional goal setting may
include meeting regularly to monitor progress or encouraging self-assessment.
In addition to creating a shared vision and building a supportive culture to encourage innovation,
schools must also provide adequate resources to support successful technology use. Undoubtedly, lack of
resources can be a barrier to teacher technology use (Hew & Brush, 2007). When building a supportive
infrastructure, it is important that schools be well-equipped, not only with ICT resources, but with the
pedagogical expertise needed to facilitate meaningful uses (Somekh, 2008).
Summary of inservice teacher change. Unlike preservice teachers, inservice teachers engage in
current practices based on their existing knowledge, self-efficacy, pedagogical beliefs, and the culture of
their schools. Although certain components (such as pedagogical beliefs and knowledge) are fairly well
formed among experienced teachers, and therefore difficult to change, the upside is that inservice teachers
have specific contexts within which to work. In other words, because inservice teachers have had more
time to develop their beliefs, they may be more aware of them. Also, because teachers work within
specific contexts, professional development can more readily be targeted to fit within these contexts.
Teacher Technology Change 24
Specifically, it is suggested that teacher professional development programs incorporate several of the
following ideas: 1) align experiences with existing pedagogical beliefs and knowledge, 2) provide
examples of other teachers successes emphasizing student outcomes, 3) provide support for risk-taking
and experimentation, and 4) expand the definition of ‘good teaching’ to include technology integration. In
general, inservice teachers must consider a multitude of variables when incorporating new innovations,
such as technology, into their classrooms. According to Guskey (1995), the amount of change individuals
are asked to make is inversely related to their probability of making the change. Facilitating small
changes appears to be an effective long-term strategy for impacting teacher practice in big ways.
Conclusion
Teacher change is a multi-faceted endeavor impacted by teacher knowledge, teacher beliefs, as
well as the culture within which teachers work. To encourage or facilitate change requires efforts on all
fronts including teacher education programs, teacher professional development, leadership and
administration, and the individual teachers, themselves. It is hoped that the suggestions in this paper help
us determine where to focus our efforts to most effectively facilitate that change.
Educational reform efforts have consistently purported student-centered practices as the most
effective instruction to prepare our students for the 21
st
century (Voogt, 2008). These reform efforts are
based on a new definition of “good teaching,” that is, teaching that revolves around student-centered
practices and that leverage relevant ICT tools and resources as meaningful pedagogical tools.
Implementing a new definition of effective teaching requires teacher knowledge change, teacher beliefs
change, and teacher culture change. Furthermore, this new definition needs to be “owned” by teachers;
involving teachers in the visioning process is essential either through teacher participatory efforts or
through teacher education and professional development efforts. Finally, this new definition must be
embraced and enforced by the cultures in which teachers learn and work.
Once this new definition has been established, teachers need to see examples of what this kind of
teaching looks like in practice. While some may have built relevant knowledge and beliefs from previous
experiences (Ertmer, 2005), they may not understand how these ideas translate into practice. Although
Teacher Technology Change 25
teachers may wholeheartedly accept these new views of good teaching, they may be unable to implement
them without concrete examples of what this looks like. Therefore, examples become an important
strategy to facilitate both teacher knowledge and belief change (Zhao & Cziko, 2001).
Continuing with this idea, it is critically important that teachers believe in their own abilities to
implement these changes within their schools and subject cultures. Even if teachers change their
pedagogical beliefs to adopt this new notion of good teaching and gain the knowledge to implement it,
they still need confidence to implement it within their specific contexts. Providing opportunities for
teachers to both experiment and to succeed is important. Schools can support this initiative by creating a
culture that allows teachers to try out new practices, while making technical and pedagogical support
readily available (Smoekh, 2008).
Perhaps one of the best ways to support teacher change is by providing opportunities for them to
witness how the change benefits their students. Borko and Putnam (1995) indicated that professional
development cannot, on its own, make teachers change:The workshops alone did not change these
teachers. It was listening to their own students solve problems that made the greatest difference in their
instructional practices” (p. 55). As noted earlier, the most important feature of a professional development
program is a strong focus on helping teachers understand how students learn specific content and how
specific instructional practices support that learning (Kanaya et al., 2005). Specifically, we must focus our
change efforts on helping teachers understand how student-centered practices, supported by technology,
impact student learning. This, then, has the potential to affect substantial changes in knowledge, beliefs,
and culture. Once teachers’ mindsets have changed to include the idea that ‘teaching is not effective
without the appropriate use of ICT resources,’ we will have reached a significant milestone.
Teacher Technology Change 26
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Chapter
By March 2020 most Higher Education institutions across the world had been forced to move all learning and teaching activities onto digital platforms, abandoning face-to-face classroom practices as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. How did the response to this emergency manifest itself in changes to pedagogy and practice for staff and students in Higher Education? The authors completed a systematic literature review to gain insight into the challenges and pedagogic practices that emerged at this time. To represent the complexities of the ‘activity’, the writers sought a theoretical framework that would help identify the key themes and tensions that the empirical studies had identified. Drawing on the work of Vygotsky, Leont’ev and Engeström, the authors created a theoretical framework to analyse how learning and teaching activities within Higher Education were practised because of COVID-19. In total, 206 papers were reviewed under four categories; theoretical, narrative, empirical and blended (which consists of two or more categories). For example, some articles provided an empirical study alongside their authors’ narrative reflections about their own experiences of handling the challenges that were created by Covid -19 pandemic. Then a more detailed review of 23 papers that met the empirical research criteria were explored for their data with coding categories drawn from the theoretical framework. These papers, in varying degrees, illuminated the tensions and the complexities of how those involved in Higher Education globally, were affected by COVID-19. Confined by the digital knowledge capabilities of both staff and students, universities were challenged to find ways to maintain their programme provision, manage expectations, support students’ wellbeing, and enable staff to balance the challenges as they directly interfaced with students. It is clear that while this emergency offered possibilities for staff and students to harness the productive capabilities of adaptive teaching by moving beyond fixed pedagogical frameworks, many struggled and felt constrained by the complexities of the activities required during the pandemic.