University of Tasmania
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Integrating interactive technologies : a practical approach

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posted on 2023-05-28, 10:04 authored by Wong, PPY
Access to technology in schools has increased in the past decades, partially due to funding programs such as Building the Education Revolution (Australian National Audit Office, 2010). This increase has reduced the inequity of access between schools (Diogo et al., 2018; Watkins et al., 2015). However, research (e.g., Brown & Czerniewicz, 2010; Gallardo-Echinique, 2014; Wang et al., 2014a) has found that, alongside this increased access, there is evidence of a growing gap between different teachers' skills when technology is used in teaching and learning. Researchers, such as Sinpeng (2015), suggest that there should be a shift from simply procuring technologies to implementing strategies in order to build teacher capacity in integrating technologies for teaching and learning. This study examined the factors that contribute to teachers' abilities to integrate interactive technologies into classroom practice and how a professional learning model, specifically designed for this study, can facilitate the building of teacher capacity when teachers use technology to support teaching and learning. The mentoring structure within this professional learning model is supported by templates specially designed for the study and a technology integration framework, which was developed from other integration frameworks. The study targeted primary learning spaces, since research in primary school settings and, therefore, evidence-based exemplars for primary school teachers are less common than in secondary and tertiary settings (Blannin, 2015). A qualitative approach was adopted in this study, taking the form of a comparative case study across five schools. These schools were located in NSW, Australia and included teachers with varying levels of experience. Each participating school included mentor and mentee partners who aimed to engage in six cycles of observation and reflection. During each cycle, the mentor would observe a lesson presented by the mentee, which was followed by a meeting where the partners would reflect on the lesson observed. The mentor used the templates to capture the mentee's progress against the framework, record milestones for the mentee to achieve and note suggested strategies for the mentee to use in order to achieve the milestones. The mentor submitted as data recorded meetings and the completed templates. The participating teachers also submitted a post-study survey, which allowed them to reflect on the learning process and provide feedback about the specific elements of the professional learning model, the framework and the supporting templates. The data analysis was initially framed by the themes identified from existing research, but new themes were allowed to emerge through an open coding process. Results from the schools provided an insight into the factors and themes that were relevant for each school's unique context. Findings from this study included common factors that affected the ability of the mentee teachers to integrate technologies. Firstly, access to technology, in terms of availability and reliability, remained an issue in the primary schools. Other factors included teachers' and students' expertise and attitudes, and educational system and school leadership support. The need for dedicated time to engage with the professional learning in this study was commonly mentioned by the teachers. Despite the varying ability of the teachers to engage with the professional learning model, all mentees demonstrated growth measured against the framework and, at the end of the study, most teachers, both mentors and mentees, were confident in their ability to mentor others to integrate technologies into teaching and learning. The key factors needed to facilitate the professional learning that emerged were the need for a strong mentor-mentee relationship, an appropriate mentor and a teacher's positive attitude towards the professional learning process. Not only did the participating teachers respond positively to the professional learning model, the framework and the supporting templates used in this study, they also provided evidence and feedback for suggested refinements to these mechanisms. This study contributes to the greater body of research by fostering a better understanding of the factors that impact on the ability of primary teachers to integrate technologies into teaching and learning. It provides a sound professional learning model, supported by an explicit technology integration framework, to build teacher capacity when integrating technologies.


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