Effect of Computer-Mediated Communications on Teachers' Attitudes toward Using Web Resources in the Classroom

Article excerpt

The availability of Internet connections in K-12 classrooms is increasing, yet the use of such resources continues to be low. One explanation may be teachers' attitudes toward the use of web resources due to lack of opportunities for teacher to collaborate on integrating web resources into classroom practices. The hypothesis tested in this research was that teachers who discussed how to use web resources during computer-mediated communications would have higher attitudes toward the use of web resources in their classrooms than teachers who did not. The results of this research, as described in an adoption of innovations framework, demonstrated that teachers who participated in discussions had significantly higher attitude scores toward the use of web resources thus were more likely to adopt such innovations.

Powerful new technologies exist that can enhance instruction and learning, yet these new world wide web technologies are not being widely used by K- 12 public school teachers (Wiburg, 1997). Teachers are not readily choosing to incorporate web resources into their teaching even though these new resources have been empirically shown to facilitate student interactivity (Hardin & Ziebarth, 1995; Owston, 1997), increase mental functioning (Conlon, 1997), and promote social interaction (Kagan & Widaman, 1987; Sharan & Kussell, 1984; Slavin, 1983). The plausibility of the argument that web resources are not used in classrooms because web technology is not available is quickly diminishing as web technology initiatives explode in the school systems (Becker, 1998). Technology skills and integration training is rapidly becoming a priority in many school districts reducing the claim that teachers do not know how to use these new tools. Why then, are teachers not readily using these resources in the classroom?

A possible explanation may be related to the teacher's mental state of readiness to adopt this new innovation. This state of readiness is the teacher's attitude toward the use of the web resources in the classroom. The objective of this study was to investigate whether the use of focused teacher conversations about integrating web resources into the classroom using computer-mediated communications would affect teachers attitudes toward the use of web resources in their classrooms. If provided with opportunities to discuss technology integration with peers through electronic means would there be a difference in the attitude of teachers toward using web resources in their teaching? Specifically,

* Is there a difference in teachers' attitude toward the use of web resources between teachers who participate in computer-mediated communications on using web resources in the classroom with their peers and those who don't?

* Is there a difference in teachers' beliefs, feelings, or intended future use of web resources between teachers who participate in computer-mediated communications on using web resources in the classroom with their peers and those who don't?

Literature Review

Thomas & Znaniecki (1918) defined attitude as a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual's response to all objects and situations with which it is related. Zimbardo & Leippe (1991) more recently defined attitude as an evaluation disposition toward some object based upon cognitions, affective reactions, behavioral intentions, and past behaviors. Attitude is an informed predisposition to respond and is comprised of beliefs, feelings and an intent for action. Thus, teachers who believe that the use of web resources will benefit classroom teaching and learning, feel that web resources are good, and intend to use web resources have a positive attitude toward such resources and are more likely to attempt incorporating them into their teaching.

The Role of Attitude in Adopting Innovations

Rogers (1995) suggested that the first step in adopting an innovation, such as web technology, was to be exposed to information and develop knowledge about the innovation. …