The challenges that are facing teachers of the new millennium are many and complex, and for teachers in Botswana, they find themselves at the crossroad of so many changes that are rapidly taking place both in and outside school. Among these changes has been the introduction of technology in schools, and just like any other reform that takes place in education; teachers play a key role in its development. Schools in Botswana have been and are still being equipped with computers to be used in the teaching/learning process. Literature indicates that there is a great need for teachers to learn and use technology with their students. Practicing teachers are faced with a challenge to learn technology so that they can function in technology-based classrooms that are being created in schools. Inservice teacher training takes different forms in different schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate how practicing teachers in one secondary school in Botswana are prepared to work with technology in their classes. Data was collected through indepth interviewing of teachers and officials from the Ministry of Education. Findings indicate that teachers who have already acquired computer knowledge through their own initiative do the technology teacher training in this school. Teachers are also not satisfied with the training that they are given. The study recommends a more systematic approach to teacher training in the school so that more teachers can be involved and also benefit from the training.
For computer technology to be successful in schools, teachers need to be trained and well prepared to competently integrate it into their curricular. Teacher training is a core activity in the development of educational technology practices because at the center of effective use of instructional technologies are those who oversee the daily activities of the classroom--the teachers. They are the main promoters of any innovative activity in education; therefore, it is important to help them to effectively integrate technology into their work (Pettenati, Giuli, & Khaled, 2001). The Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) report of 1995 stated that for teachers to use technology well, they not only need to have access to it, but they also have to discover and experiment different ways that it can be applied. It is therefore important to understand how teachers relate with technology, what their role is in this new environment, and what is being done to help them function in technology-based classrooms.
The use of computers in schools poses a challenge for practicing teachers who already have their own established ways of teaching and do not know much about computers because they were not part of their preservice training. These teachers are faced with a task of learning something completely new and having to change their way of teaching, which is not an easy task for most of them.
The Need to Train Inservice Teachers to Use Technology
Technology has no doubt fully entered the education system and teachers find themselves in a position where they do not have much choice but to learn it. For most experienced teachers, technology was not part of their initial training, and educators admit that reeducating this existing teaching force is not easy, but it is necessary (Technology and the New Professional Teacher, 1997). Teachers play a key role in students' learning and there is no way they can stay ignorant of the changes that are taking place in education that affect their students. According to a report by president Wise of the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education:
It is impossible to deny the tremendous effect rapid technological growth has had on our society. This explosion of new technologies has changed the way we live-from the way we do business and to the way we communicate with each other. Technological advancements are also affecting the way we teach and learn. The business world demands that our schools prepare educated workers who can use technology effectively in the global market. (Technology and the New Professional Teacher, 1997)
Therefore, teachers are faced with the challenge of preparing students to better survive in the 21st century, the world of technology.
Research on the effects of technology on student learning is also over-whelmingly positive, with studies reporting how technology helps students learn better. The OTA report (1995), has found many examples of how technology can help learning. Teachers in the study reported that technology helped to motivate students to learn and addressed students with different learning styles. They said students who were at the verge of quitting found a new interest in school when they worked with technology. Students communicated with others outside their school and bonded with students across the globe. The study concluded that those activities could not easily take place in a normal school day, but with technology and careful guidance from the teacher, they were possible. Computers have been accepted in schools because they promise a new dimension to education. Dede (1998) proposed that computers enhance education by providing the following: (a) a more active learning more varied sensory and conceptual modes, (b) less mental drudgery, (c) learning better tailored to individuals, and (d) better aid to abstraction.
The challenge therefore is to incorporate computers successfully into the school curriculum and maximize its benefits to education (Stepich, 1996). This demands that computing be accommodated in the curriculum of students as well as teachers. So even if teachers did not want to learn how to use technology for their own good, they are still pressured to do it for the sake of their students. These teachers find themselves at a point where they do not have much choice to adopt or not to adopt technology in their curriculum. The pressure is clearly evident in day to day living (Barnett, 2000).
Different reports give different recommendations on how schools should use computers. Some suggest that students should not be given too much freedom when working with computers; some say teachers should allow the students to explore everything on their own (Dede, 1998). Despite these paradoxical recommendations, most literature has one basic thing in common, that is the teacher's competency in using technology is very vital for successful learning to take place. Technology cannot enhance learning unless teachers know how to use it and integrate it into subject-specific areas (Eby, 1997). Teachers must remember that technology is only a tool to enhance or support new instructional strategies. Prawd (1996) said:
Nowadays more than ever, teachers are competing against many other outside forces for their students' attention. It is vital that they be given the tools they need to keep children interested in the lessons they are teaching. Among these tools lies the computer. (p. 282)
Technology for Teachers' Benefits
Teachers also need to learn to use technology for their own personal benefit (Technology and Teacher Professional Development, 1995). Technology offers a great deal of services that are of huge benefit to the teacher. For example, using a computer to do a student database is faster, and it saves the teacher time to devote to other things in his/her work. Equally, its potential is considerable for supporting teachers, both in their everyday classroom role, for example by reducing the time occupied by the administration associated with it, and in their continuing training and development (Fontaine, 2000). The OTA report said "when teachers discover ways that technology can strengthen their teaching, help carry out administrator's task and enrich their professional growth, then technology starts to make sense to them" (p. 45).
Alden (2000) said that teachers make the greatest gains in training programs that first provide teachers with the opportunity to experience the benefits of technology for themselves personally, for example, how a computer and software can assist them in developing lesson plan materials, worksheets, and bulletin board materials or sending professional-looking notes home to parents. Once teachers experience the benefits of using computers and software for themselves personally, training advances them to help them develop their own ideas, share these benefits with children, and integrate technology as a tool throughout the curriculum.
Hands-on technology use at school and home allows teachers to develop confidence in their skills and a comfort level with the technology. When teachers are accustomed to using the equipment to boost their own productivity, they "are more likely to see ways in which similar uses could support the projects they want their students to do," noted the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (1994).
The Changing Role of the Teacher
As technology enters more and more classrooms, one of its most reported effects is the changing role of the teacher in the classrooms and the way he/she interacts with the students (Means, 1994). With the introduction of technology in schools, teachers would not only have to learn how to use it, but it would change the way they teach, the way they look at their students and the way they view the whole learning process. Fontaine (2000) said that:
Teachers may be forgiven if they cling to old models of teaching that have served them so well in the past. All of their formal instruction and role models were driven by traditional teaching practices. Breaking away from traditional approaches to instruction means taking risks and venturing in to the unknown. But this is precisely what is needed at the present time. (p. 53)
These teachers had their own way of teaching, and working procedures that often reflects how they themselves were prepared (Siegel, 1995). Now they find themselves having to change their way of doing things and adopt something new, which is not always so easy and is often uncomfortable (Burke, 1998). Technology is taking teachers to unknown territories which some of them are quite afraid of and can make their lives a nightmare.
The teacher in a technology classroom is no longer the center of attention as the dispenser of information, but rather plays the role of facilitator, setting project goals, and providing guidelines and resources, moving from student to student, or group to group, providing suggestions and support for student activity (Stepich, 1996). As students work on technology-supported products, the teacher rotates through the room, looking over shoulders, asking about the reasons for various design choices, and suggesting resources that might be used (Dede, 1998). Traditionally, the teacher played a very big role in the learning process as he/she did most of the talking and teachers who have been in the field for some time got used to this, but this has to change. One teacher in the National Geographic Kids Network Project said:
I no longer spend most of my time standing in front of my class lecturing or having students reading from a textbook. I have become a facilitator, stage director, resource manager, master learner, discussion leader, observer, and evaluator. For me this change has been refreshing and enlightening and long overdue. There are no longer textbooks or tests with right or wrong answers. They have become collaborators and teachers. They have become scientists, making predictions, developing hypothesis and analyzing data. And they spend their money buying school pencils, folders, and banners to send home to their pen pals. (Bracey, 1994)
Technology teachers embrace the belief that all children can learn, and all they need to do as teachers is to seek new strategies for teaching to address a variety of learning styles and student interests (Fosnot, 1996). In the OTA report, teachers mention that working with computers has changed their teaching, among this has been that they are more comfortable with the students working independently, they spend less time lecturing and more time overseeing small groups or working one on one with students. The teachers report that they see their roles in the classroom changing as they become more like coaches, facilitating and guiding student learning, and the students on the other hand take on more responsibility from their learning.
The teacher's role is also becoming more and more complex and difficult. Donley & Donley, (1996) said:
Nowadays, the teacher must be a specialist in rigorous subject matter and be adept with modern technologies. The teacher also must be a generalist, able to assist students to research material beyond the teacher's competence. The teacher must learn to coordinate student learning and draw upon available resources. (p. 6)
In addition to making learning fun and relevant it is important for teachers to take a more pragmatic approach to crafting a vision and developing a plan. With all computer-based activities, the quality of children's learning is dependent, at least in part, on the way the activity is organized and supported by the teacher. Without appropriate support and direction from the teacher, working with computers can become a passive activity with little constructive learning (Hanson-Smith, 1997).
Lack of Confidence
Lack of teacher confidence has been one of the greatest concerns for the development of educational technology. Many teachers are not comfortable with using technology even if they are trained. James Adams (Director of Math, Science, and Technology Center at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky) and Cynthia Bricking, former High School teacher and current computer instructor for Executrain (a computer training facility) say that teachers are hesitant to use technology because they fear appearing incompetent or discovering that some students know more than they do. Executrain collected 1190 data samples from the U.S. Department of Education's office of Resource and Improvement to support this statement. Many teachers have doubts about computer technology because it was not part of their learning experience. Fontaine (2000) says just knowing how to use a computer is not enough; instead, teachers must become knowledgeable about technology and self-confident enough to integrate it effectively in the classroom. Teachers, in other words, must become "fearless in their use of technology" and empowered by the many opportunities it offers.
A survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2000 revealed that 99% of full time regular public school teachers reported that they had access to computers or the Internet somewhere in their schools, but not all of them are using them because they do not feel ready. Most teachers complained that the one-shot training sessions that they are often given are not sufficient enough to better prepare them to work with technology. "To help teachers incorporate technology in ways that support powerful instruction requires an array of professional development experiences quite different from traditional workshops and how-to training sessions," noted Alden (2000, p. 238).
Computers in Botswana Schools
Computer use has also penetrated developing countries such as Botswana. Computers were introduced in Botswana schools in 1997 as a recommendation of the Revised National Policy in Education of 1994 (a government publication that advises policy making in education development), that stated that computers be used in schools to help improve the quality of education and make learning more meaningful and interesting to students. As a result, computers were introduced in 1997 with a pilot of 11 schools, and have included many more schools since. Computer use in the school in this study was introduced in 1999. This introduction of technology in the school found teachers who were already working, and had no knowledge about the machinery. These teachers had to be re-educated and prepared to work with technology in their classes. The purpose of this study therefore, was to examine how these teachers were trained to use computers in their classes.
The questions that guided this study were: (a) how is the training of teachers in the school done, and who does the training? (b) What are the attitudes of teachers towards technology and training?
This study was based in Smith Secondary School (not real name), which is a community junior secondary school in Botswana, located in one of the big villages in the country. The study used qualitative methodologies for collecting data. Data was collected through indepth interviewing of 15 teachers in the school, eight using technology, and seven not using technology in their classes. Interviews were also conducted with three officials from the Ministry of Education, who were responsible for educational technology in the schools. The principal of the school was also interviewed. The research was conducted in 2001 from June to August.
How Teachers are Trained
Computers were first introduced in Botswana Junior Secondary Schools in 1997. This started as a pilot project that included 11 schools and over the years, many more schools have joined. When the project started, the Ministry of Education asked for two teachers from each of the pilot schools and took them through computer training so that they could go back to their schools and train their colleagues. When asked what criteria they used to select teachers to be trained, a representative from the Ministry of Education said:
The training is open for everybody in the sense that we don't have any preference of the type of teacher that should come. However, it is limited to some extent because we can only have so many teachers to train. We don't mind the subject area they come from. In most cases we try to get as many people who are not from science-related subjects because computers, from history has it that people have always taken them to be science stuff. We are trying to show them that anybody can acquire this knowledge. We are trying to look at the technology from the point of view of it being used as a learning tool across all curriculum subjects so much that we expect somebody who is teaching languages, for example, to be able to use computers in their teaching. So we try to train even those people who are non-science teachers.
As the program expanded to include more schools, the work became too overwhelming for the Ministry and it began to rely on the initiative of those teachers who had personal training about computers to implement the program in their schools and help train their colleagues.
Computers were introduced in the school in this study in 1999. A computer lab was build and equipped with 20 computers, the total enrollment of the school was about 1,200. The school also had six computers in the staff room (the teachers' work area), one in the science lab, one in the design and technology lab, and one in the home economics lab. The headmaster and deputy headmaster each had one computer in their offices. Only four computers in the school were connected to the Internet, and those were located in the staff room, and students were not allowed to use these computers. The average enrollment per class ranged between 35-40 students, so students had to share computers.
When computers were introduced in this school, most of the teachers did not have any computer knowledge or skill, because computers were not part of their preservice training. There were only four teachers from a total of 50, who were knowledgeable about computers. These teachers acquired the knowledge that they had through their own personal initiatives. They were not encouraged or sent by anybody to go through the training, but they used their own means and money to acquire the skills and knowledge that they possessed. One of these teachers enrolled in a private computer school to learn, the other one corresponded with universities overseas and one said that he taught himself through reading manuals. In describing how he got to learn to use computers this teacher said:
I just decided to take the first step in learning how to use computers. Even though it was very expensive for me, I went ahead and bought myself a computer, went through the manual and learned everything from there, and since then, I never looked back, I always try to keep up to date with everything that is happening with computers. My skills and knowledge has become very important now that we are using computers in the school and I am in a better position to help my colleagues.
Originally, all these teachers did not learn computers so that they could use them as teaching tools, but they learned them for their own personal and professional development, not knowing how important the skills were going to be once technology entered the schools, as one of them states:
When I first learned how to use computers, I had no idea they will be used in our schools one day, especially junior secondary schools. I just learned because I have always like computers since the first time I saw them used in offices. I just thought they were amazing and when I heard of all the things they were capable of doing, it increased my desire to learn, just for my own personal interest. So I enrolled in one of the private schools here and from the first day I was fascinated. By the time computers were introduced here in school, I was pretty much competent in using them. I believe that as a human being it is important to learn new things. I personally think that computers are good for me because I can do so many things with them that are almost impossible without computers. I also think they are very good for students.
These four teachers became very important to the school when computers were introduced because they were the only ones who were knowledgeable about the machinery. These are the people who then became responsible for training the rest of the teaching staff, even nonteaching staff. In an interview with one of these teachers he said:
In our school, we have taken it upon ourselves to make sure that we get this computer learning business off the ground. There are only four of us who are really knowledgeable about this, and we have realized that unless we do something to help other teachers, they may never become part of this. We want other teachers to learn to use computers and eventually use them in their classes with their students. So what we do is, the four of us get together and hold school based workshops for teachers to train them.
The teachers responsible for the training look for a convenient time that suits everybody and arrange for school-based workshops. Since most of the teachers attending these workshops did not have prior experience with computers, the training is very basic, it involved teaching about the components of the computer, different parts of computers and basic word processing skills. In describing what they teach at the workshops, one of the trainers said:
When we first started, about 98% of the teachers in the school had no idea what a computer was all about, so we literally had to start from scratch, I mean we had to teach them about things like the mouse and how it is used. The idea was to have everybody on the same page so that in the next training session, we will build on what we had previously learned. So the very first training was about getting everybody acquainted with computers and learns the basic stuff.
The training workshops usually went on for only half a day and were not held on a regular basis. The teachers could not even say how often they did the training because it was very inconsistent. It was also reported that it was difficult to schedule a follow up training soon after the initial training mainly because of time constraints. One of the trainers said:
We really have problems with scheduling workshops, mainly because of time. It is not easy to get everybody together at the same time, especially with the many extra curricular activities that teachers are involved in. So, time is a big obstacle in trying to schedule the workshops.
When asked about their thoughts on the training, teachers had mixed feelings. About half of the teachers thought the training was useful because it at least got them started on the road of learning to use technology. One teacher said:
Even though there was not enough time to learn as many things as I had wished, I am really happy with the training because it got me out of complete darkness as far as computers are concerned. I completely had no idea what they were all about. I am really determined to learn more and always looking forward to the next workshop. We have computers in the staff room, so I can continue to practice. One thing for sure is that I am not going to start using computers in my classes until I know what I am doing. I teach Social Studies, and from what I hear, computers can be very helpful in this subject, but I have to learn how to make good use of them first, then I will start incorporating them in my classes.
Another teacher said:
Technology teacher training is really a tough job, mostly because of the problem with time and many other involved factors, but I personally appreciate the little that I have learned. It served as the basis, and now I am learning many other things on my own at my spare time. I am a risk taker, so I have already started taking my students to the lab to do various things. The truth is most of these students know far much better than we do because they have had prior exposure to computers, so I end up learning from them, and I think it is fun.
On the other hand, there were those teachers who were not very optimistic about the training. They thought that the time given for the training was not enough, so they did not learn anything useful. One of these teachers said:
The problem with this technology training is that it is not done regularly. They hold one workshop; teach about something, then you do not hear about it for a very long time. By the time the next workshop comes you have completely forgotten what the first workshop was all about, so somehow it becomes a waste of your time.
Another teacher said:
Personally, I think that the kind of training we get through these school-based workshops is only good for us as individuals to learn how to operate computers and use it for our own personal benefit, such as e-mail, typing letters, things like that. But as far as using computers with students to teach, I really do not think so. I do not think the skill and knowledge we get are enough to bring us to that level. So, while I appreciate what they are doing in helping us learn how to use computers, I think expecting us to teach with them is being too ambitious. In order to be able to do that, I think we need to go for intense training for a reasonable period of time and get the necessary skills.
There were also some teachers who were not just keen about the whole idea of technology integration in education and were not willing to commit time for the training or for incorporating computers in their classes. Talking to one of these teachers, who was also the school librarian and had been trained to use computers, but was not using them, the following conversation took place:
Researcher: So why are you not using computers with your students, since you say that you have been trained? Teacher: Well, when I first came from the training, I did use computers with the students. I was always in the library available for students to help them and teach them how to use computers to do research and stuff, and I was doing all these on top of the normal school responsibilities that I have. But as time went on I could not continue, I found that I had to sacrifice just too much for nothing. There was no recognition of whatever kind for the extra time that I was spending on this. I am not satisfied with my salary to begin with, so I am forced to do part-time jobs to earn extra money. So I realized that I was spending a huge amount of time on something that was not benefiting me that much. That is why I stopped. If they can promise to pay me more or send me for further education on this, then I will fully participate. Right now we have disabled students in our school and we already need a lot of time to help them, so accommodating something else is not that easy.
From this conversation, it was clear that teacher needed an extra incentive to participate in working with technology. Most of the teachers in this category also felt that computers were for science and math fields, so they did not see where computers fitted in their subjects, as one teacher stated that: "I think computers are for science and mathematics people because I think they are the ones who can understand how computers operate, and computers deal with numbers and thinks like that." Some of them also confessed that they were intimidated to learn and use computers with their students because most of the students knew far more than they did as teachers. One teacher said:
What I do not like about these computers is that the students know far more than we do. I do not like going to class and not knowing what I am doing. What is more discouraging is that even if I can do the training they offer here in school, I will never catch up with what these students know, I will always lacking behind, so what is the use?"
During the time of this study, there was one teacher who received computer training from one of the Colleges in the country, she had been sent by the school to do the training for four months. In finding out what she thought about the training she received, the following conversation occured:
Researcher: Have you had any training on how to work with computers? Teacher: Yes, I was sent to do some training at the university for four months. Researcher: What exactly did the training involve? Teacher: Well, I really do not know how to describe that training because somehow the people who were training us came in with this preconceived idea that we already knew a lot of basics about computers, but we did not. These people just went on to teach complicated stuff which we did not understand because we didn't have any basics to build on what they were teaching. You know if it is your first time to do something, it is not very easy for you to grasp anything, but the fact that we were at the university level, and it is almost like those guys thought we knew everything because we are teachers, so they just shoot straight into what we were supposed to do. You know when you are teaching like Standard-one pupils, you just start from scratch; they did not start from scratch. They just went to the top, without even caring whether we had any basics. This course was in two parts, and in the first part we were supposed to be introduced to the computer, its basics etc, but the person who was teaching us did not do that. The person who came in for the second part just said as you did this part one, and we told him that we never did that in part one, he was so surprised and said there was nothing that he could do because the examinations were just around the corner, so we just went through. So personally I really gained very little from that training, so I just decided to do some training on my own and learned a few things and later managed to make a connection with what I learned at the training.
The underlying problem that mainly led to insufficient training in this study was lack of time. Teachers already did not have enough time to do their work, so they could not afford to learn something new. Some teachers have not yet fully comprehended the value technology, so they were not enthusiastic to learn.
As an effort to facilitate computer learning, teachers in this school were also encouraged to use the computer for their own benefits such as e-mail to communicate with friends and family and also type out their class assignments and tests, instead of relying on the secretary like they were used to. Talking about the importance of improving computer literacy in their school, the headmaster said:
We are trying all means to get teachers to use computers. Right now we have introduced a school policy that the school secretary no long type out tests and assignments for teachers like she used to. Teachers are now responsible for that. We have put four computers in the staffroom that they can use, and they can also use the lab if there are no classes, so this shows how serious we are about getting our teachers to learn and use these things.
One of the trainers said:
Our school administration is very involved in helping us with this technology training. Our headmaster does everything in his power to get teachers to participate in the training and eventually use computers in their respective subjects and honestly, through the involvement of the headmaster, we have been able to get more teachers participating than if he was not part of the job. He mainly talks to teachers during staff meetings and sometimes even gets to talk to them individually. The support of the school administration is very evident when it comes to asking for resources and material such as software and other accessories. We do not go through any trouble to get these, whereas, usually it is difficult to obtain money from the school to purchase anything. So we are really grateful for that.
Talking to the headmaster he said:
I personally, strongly believe that it is important for our students and teachers to be computer literate, especially nowadays where technology is advancing at a very high rate. So, I as the school head, it is my responsibility to make sure that my students and teachers are not left behind. The main problem is that technology learning is not yet an educational policy. Basically teachers do it voluntarily, so it is very difficult to win over those who are completely not interested. You just hope that these teachers love their students enough to make sure that they utilize the latest teaching resources.
At the Ministry of Education level, teachers did not feel they had enough support with technology training. They complained that the Ministry was not making an effort to make the training easier especially in helping them create time for the training. One of the teachers said:
I do not think the Ministry is very helpful with this work. All they did was to put computers in the school and that was it. It is now up to us to see what we do with them, we really feel neglected.
From the Ministry of Education perspective, while they admit that it is very difficult to reach out to individual schools to personally train the teachers, they maintain that they are very supportive of the school's efforts. One of the Ministry representative said: "right now we are relying on teachers in schools who have prior knowledge about computers to train their colleagues, but we now have programs in colleges to help train preservice teachers so that they can go and help out."
Problems with the Training
Lack of time. Teachers who did the training had not been freed of their teaching load; therefore they did not get enough time to commit to the training. The teachers who needed to be trained also did not have time for that because their daily schedule was already packed and even their weekends.
The people who conducted training workshops had not gone through any formal training themselves that equipped them with necessary skills to train other teachers. These were people who just learned how to use computers for their own benefit, not necessarily how to use it as a teaching tool. Therefore they did not take any systematic approach to this training.
Lack of onsite technical support was also mentioned as one of the reasons why teachers did not use computers. Teachers complained that they always ran into technical problems when working with computers and they did not get immediate help, this lead to them giving up working with computers and forgetting what they learned at the training workshop. One teacher said:
I always get discouraged when I try to do something with my students using computers and we run into technical problems and we do not know what we do and there is no one around to help us. I end up with just too many students sharing a computer, which is not a good thing some times.
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
Preparing Teachers to Use Technology
Most teachers in this study were not working with technology because they did not feel confident enough to do that. Even those who were using it were still not very confident. It was reported that the Ministry of Education provided training to a few teachers in the pilot schools when the computer awareness program was launched, but as the program spread to more and more schools it became the responsibility of each school to train its teachers. However, this was not something that was only done with technology training. The government's policy has always been that for any inservice program that is introduced, only a few teachers from the schools will be selected for training, then these teachers would go back and train their colleagues (Hernam & Nteta, 1994).
The problem with the technology inservice training in the school was that the teachers who did it did not have enough time. These teachers had not been freed of some of their teaching loads and as a result it was difficult for them to dedicate as much time as needed to the training. In addition, these teachers were the central pillars of the educational technology program in the school. They carried the burden of the whole school as far as technology was concerned and they had to answer all computer-related questions from students, teachers, and administrators, so they did not have enough time to dedicate to training their colleagues to a point where they could be confident enough to use it in their classes.
The most pressing factor in training teachers to use technology was lack of time. Literature supports the view that lack of teacher time was probably the greatest barrier to technology use--time to attend training or workshops, to experiment with machines and explore software, to talk to others about what works and what does not, and to plan lessons using new materials or methods (OTA, 1995; Means, 1994). Teachers already do not have enough time in their hands, and to find time to learn to use technology is the most difficult thing. On the other hand technology-training needs plenty of time.
The training offered at Smith also had several shortcomings that contributed to the limited use of technology by teachers. Teachers complained that the training was not enough. Also the training involved training teachers to use computers, not necessarily how to integrate it in their curriculum. Insufficient training is one of the main factors that impede teachers to fully integrate technology in their curricula. Fontaine (2000) said:
When teachers' needs are discussed, the emphasis is often on providing short-term training to familiarize teachers with specific application or encourage general computer literacy. Seldom have policy discussions or initiatives centered on the relationship between technology and the teacher's role. Seldom have they articulated a vision of how technology can empower teachers to carry out all parts of their jobs. (p. 4)
Another problem with the training at Smith secondary school was that there was no immediate follow-up, as a result, when teachers met in the next session, they had forgotten what they learned in the previous workshop. Alden (2000) said that teachers need indepth, sustained assistance not only in the use of the technology but also in their efforts to integrate technology into the curriculum. The one-shot training provided at a workshop cannot provide teachers with all the necessary skills they need to completely integrate it in their teaching.
According to Speck (1996), if teachers are not well prepared, technology will be slow to take off in education. Ongoing training is necessary to help teachers learn not only how to use new technology but also how to provide meaningful instruction and activities using technology in the classroom. "Teachers must be offered training in using computers," notes Sulla (1999), "but their training must go beyond that to the instructional strategies needed to infuse technological skills into the learning process" (p. 2). In successful projects, teachers are provided with ongoing professional development on practical applications of technology.
Speck (1996) said that teacher training takes time and must be conducted over several years for significant change in educational practices to take place. Sufficient time and follow-up support for teachers must be provided so that they can master new content and strategies and integrate them into their practice. Teachers need time to plan, practice skills, and try out new ideas, collaborating, and reflecting on ideas.
The primary reason teachers do not use technology in their classrooms is lack of experience with the technology. In his study, Prawd, (1996) found that teachers who had received professional development with computers during the last five years were more likely to use computers in effective ways than those who had not participated in such training. Ongoing professional development is necessary to help teachers learn not only how to use new technology, but also how to provide meaningful instruction and activities using technology in the classroom. Teachers must be offered training in using computers, noted Means (1994), "but their training must go beyond that to the instructional strategies needed to infuse technological skills into the learning process" (p. 92). The 1995 OTA report stated that much of today's educational technology training tends to focus on how to use computers and little emphasis on integrating it into specific subjects, choosing software, and how to organize classes. Yao and Ouang (2000) said that teacher-training programs only have introductory courses on computer literacy, which focus on basic computer applications such as word processor, spreadsheet, or database, but no introductory course on instructional media and technology.
Teachers in this study reported that they often gave up using computers because there is no technical support readily available in the school. Barnett (2000) said that when teachers get back to schools from the workshops, the unexpected happens, and they need assistance. Teachers who know they have somebody to fall back to when things are not working right are more likely to use technology than those who do not.
Lack of incentive was reported as another reason why teachers did not dedicate time to train to use technology. Some teachers reported that they did not see any reason why they should sacrifice so much time to learn technology and use it in their learning if there was not any thing extra that they were getting from the work. This shows that sometimes teachers need an incentive to convince them to get involved and make time to learn technology. Alden (2000) emphasized the importance of incentives and support for teachers to work with technology. According to her, added incentives to recognize teachers for their efforts can boost participation in educational technology and substantially increase teachers' commitment and learning. Effective incentives can include college credit, release time from classes to attend training sessions, and recognition for performance and for increased and improved use of technology in their classrooms. Some teachers in the study felt that they were already underpaid for the work they were doing and expecting them to do more was asking too much from them. As much as they believed that technology enhanced students' learning, their efforts to learn and use it had to be recognized in some way.
Leask and Pachler (1999) said that the attitude of teachers towards technology is very important in determining how much a teacher is willing to learn and use computers with their students. It was reported in this study that when technology was first introduced in the schools, teachers who already had some knowledge about computers were the first to get involved in working with computers. These teachers were then faced with the responsibility of encouraging their colleagues to also learn and use computers with their students. One official from the Ministry of Education reported that the first reaction they got from the teachers as they were introducing the computers in schools was that computers were for math and science subjects. Alden (2000) reported that this has been a universal kind of reaction as schools all over the world have reported similar reactions. Computers have been closely associated with these subjects and as result teachers from other subjects believed that technology was not for them. Helping teachers recognize that computers are applicable to every subject area has been a challenge in the school in this study.
One other way through which teachers can be motivated to learn and use technology is to help them see the benefits of technology in their own lives. Eby (1997) said that teachers make the greatest gains in programs that first provide them with the opportunity to experience the benefits of technology for themselves personally, for example, using a computer software to develop lesson plan materials, worksheets or professional looking notes. It makes sense that in order to effectively communicate the benefits of any subject or tool, we personally need to understand its value, then develop proficiency in the area and finally develop effective means of teaching it to someone else. For example, teachers understand the value of knowing how to read and therefore have become competent readers and teachers of reading. Teachers need to develop their understanding of the value of technology, then develop proficiency in using technology and ultimately teach children how to use technology.
This study found that teachers were encouraged to use computers for their own benefit; for example, an e-mail system was set up for them in the staff room for their personal communication with friends, relatives, or colleagues. Such uses have been reported as useful in helping teachers "befriend" technology and eventually develop an interest in learning and using it more (Gooden, 1996). It was also reported that teachers were encouraged to type out their assignments and tests, something that used to be done solely by the school secretary. This was an initial step in helping teachers become acquainted with computers and also discover how their lives could be made much easier if they typed their work at their own convenience instead of relying on the secretary who needed to be notified well in advance. Using technology for these purposes allowed teachers to develop confidence in their skills and a comfort level with the technology. When teachers are accustomed to using the equipment to boost their own productivity, they "are more likely to see ways in which similar uses could support the projects they want their students to do," notes the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (1994, p. 2). Students cannot be expected to benefit from technology if their teachers are neither familiar nor comfortable with it.
Practicing teachers in Smith Secondary School were faced with a big responsibility of learning and adapting technology into their curriculum. This was a challenging task for them, as it required them to learn something completely new, alter their way of teaching, and readjust their timetable to accommodate this new change. Teachers who conducted technology training in this school were people who sacrificed their time to help their colleagues; they had not been trained to teach other teachers. Time was the biggest issue that made technology training difficult. Teachers in the school had not been given enough time to do the training, as a result, they got insufficient training which led to most of them giving up using computers.
Technology use in this school cannot be a success unless teachers are ready to make the technology part of their curriculum. Teachers on the other hand will not use technology unless they have been trained enough and given enough support to do the job. Therefore, eliminating the barriers that prevent teachers from learning and giving teachers the best training remains a very crucial issue in the development of educational technology in Smith Secondary School.
It is reported from the study that the main reason teachers were not working with computers was lack of training. There is need to take a different approach to teacher training to make it more effective. One of the ways to do that is, instead of asking teachers to sacrifice extra time during weekends or after school hours to learn technology, it would be more effective if the teachers were freed of some of their duties in order to do the training. Temporary teachers could be hired in the mean time to take over the lessons while the teachers are at the training. Teachers who do the training should also be freed of some of their teaching load so that they can devote more time to the training.
Teacher training programs must also use key points from adult learning theory to better address the needs of teachers as they learn computers. Adults require relevant, concrete experiences with adequate support, appropriate feedback, and long-term follow-up (Speck, 1996). This is very different from traditional one-time teacher workshops. Research indicates that teachers learn and incorporate new information best when it is presented over a long time frame instead of a single session.
The training of teachers should also go beyond just teaching them about the hardware and software as it is currently done. Pedagogical support should be given to teachers so that they can know when and how to effectively integrate technology in their lessons. The Ministry of Education should develop comprehensive training programs, and train the people who conduct the training in the schools so that they can effectively prepare their colleagues to use technology.
Another important component of effective technology use is technical assistance and support. Teachers should have access to onsite technical support personnel who are responsible for troubleshooting and assistance. Hackbarth (1996) said that when teachers are trying to use technology in their classrooms and they encounter difficulties, they need immediate help and support. Technology that is not easily accessed and implemented will not be used. Teachers will return to more traditional ways of teaching if the problems they encounter cannot be solved quickly and efficiently. Teachers at Smith secondary school complained that they always had problems with some computers not working and as a result they had too many students working at one computer at a time. There is need to have a technician easily available in the school to work on these kinds of problems. McKenzie (1991) stated, "The best way to win widespread use of new technologies is to provide just-in-time support, assistance, and encouragement when needed. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now!" (p. 37).
IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
For future research on this issue, it will be interesting to examine the processes that individual teachers use to adopt technology and use it with their students.
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