Monday, 8 December 2014

In the face of obstacles, why would teachers persist in using digital technologies in classrooms?

Dianne and I will shortly be having a break from this blog for a number of reasons - first, it's almost our holiday time; second, our university shuts for a couple of weeks, and three, our heads need time to reboot. We intend, as a result, to create a shared blog post as our 2014 finale.

In the meantime, I thought I would talk about an article that has just been published in Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice. I have to fess up though - it's one of mine. I'd like to be able to share the actual article with everyone, in order to generate debate about the ideas, but copyright with the publisher makes that difficult.

However, the basic premise is that There are a number of models that focus on technology uptake in various contexts - such as The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), which is used in industry and sometimes in education to explain uptake of technology by individuals. Then there's the continuance theory model that hinges on TAM as a foundation. It focuses on satisfaction and ease of use as determinants of continued use, and also began life as a focus on commercial uptake to get the job done. Then there's the SAMR model which is also a kind of continuum but sees this in relation to whether or not the user appears to appropriate it for their own uses, or just adopt it as is. I may be taking liberties in my summary of them, but you can be the judge of that.

These got me wondering, and asking - so are these the reasons teachers will keep going, even in the face of wonky wifi, school policies that obstruct rather than enable, or in contexts where no-else seems to experiment with thee things? My argument is that ease of use, satisfaction with the tool or even whether a teacher adopted or integrated use are not enough for persistent use. Teachers care about whether their students are keen to learn and achieve learning success. When they tell the teacher "this is cool" or that  "this doesn't feel like learning", then teachers will do it again and build on that success, whatever the tool or pedagogical approach. When the two align and students dig into a task, concentrate for long periods and want to produce fine work, then learning is magic.

Extending continuance theory to education therefore, must be predicated on what happens with students. It isn't enough to talk about tools or the teachers themselves - great teachers will make decisions based on the impact on their learners. All power to them, I say!

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