Implementing Technological Change at Schools: The Impact of Online Communication with Families on Teacher Interactions through Learning Management System

Article excerpt


If you cannot measure something in your organization, you cannot manage it (Drucker, 2007). The main objectives of online Learning Management Systems (LMS) in organizations are to simplify the administration of learning programs and support communication among colleagues (Nichani, 2001). An effective LMS helps to target, deliver, track, analyze, and report the learning "condition" within the organization (Rengarajan, 2001). Recently LMS became a necessary management tool in K-12 education. School principals and educational administrators often need to decide which system will best suit their specific needs and open channels for communication among the staff (Cameron & Mahoney, 2008). Some researchers have exploited the potential of LMS, many of which automatically keep logs of user activity, both for research and the design of practical online learning applications (Black, Dawson, & Priem, 2008). The present study continues this work, seeking to explore whether the interactivity among teachers can be measured via logs of their activities within LMS. The introduction section is divided into three parts: the first one discusses online educational systems that help to manage learners versus systems that focuses on content provided to the learner; the second section presents the theoretical frameworks of this study and defines interactivity--the variable measured in this research; the last section describes the Mashov LMS studied in this research and presents its two application: for staff and for families--students and their parents.

Some authors use the term LMS for systems that include different content components (Chen & Epperson, 2008). However, such terminology usage neutralizes the distinction between LMS and so called Content Management Systems--CMS (Tsai & Ernst, 2009) or Learning Content Management Systems--LCMS. This paper follows the distinction made by Greenberg (2002), according to which the primary objective of LMS in educational settings is to manage learners, i.e., to keep track of their progress and performance across different types of learning activities. In contrast, CMS or LCMS manage the content provided to the learner (for detailed discussion about differences between LMS and LCSM see also: Maleh, Lee, Ho, & Chong, 2004).

By providing data concerning teacher activities, an LMS opens possibilities to monitor and evaluate the process of change in educational institutions, as well as to plan, make decisions, and design future policies (Heathcote & Dawson, 2005). But the adoption of educational technology is a complex issue; even if teachers are proficient in using technologies, this does not mean that they believe it is a valuable tool when used in educational settings (Steel, 2009).

Technological innovations are accepted by people at different rates. Diffusion of Innovation Theory (Rogers, 2003) defined five types of technology adopters: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The distribution of these types follows standard deviations in a bell curve. The innovators (2.5%) are eager to adopt innovations and technology is a central interest in their life. The early adopters (13.5%) understand and appreciate the benefits of a new technology and relate potential benefits to their own needs. The early majority (34%) is driven by a sense of practicality and wants to be sure that the new technology is stable. The late majority (34%) prefers to wait until the new technology has become an established standard and receives significant support. Finally, the laggards (16%) are resistant to new technologies and will use it only as a part of other products.

In educational settings Dori, Tal, and Peled (2002) classified four categories of teachers in a process of technology adoption: (1) "the initiator and path-finder"--the enthusiastic, confident teacher, willing to implement online technologies, (2) "the follower"--the conformist teacher, applying online technologies at convenience, (3) "the avoider"--teacher using technologies when he or she is forced to, and (4) "the antagonist" that will not use technologies in school under any circumstances. …