Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Construction of Failure and Success Concepts in K-12 ICT Integration

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Construction of Failure and Success Concepts in K-12 ICT Integration

Article excerpt

Introduction

"Since the invention of the motion picture, teachers have been intrigued by the potential of technology" (Hew & Brush, 2007, p. 224). Despite the great promise of technologies, the challenge of effectively harnessing technologies to benefit learners, educators, and administrators is still great. This challenge is most apparent in regards to efforts by policymakers to integrate information and communication technologies (ICTs) in schools. Despite significant efforts and resources invested in ICT integration programs in various school systems, we find a disproportionate number of reports of failure of such programs (e.g., Cuban, 2010; Wild, 2006). One of the labels this phenomenon has received is technological paradox (Salomon, 2000), a term that describes how the more deeply a technology is integrated in learning and teaching, the less it influences the educational system in general, and the learner in particular. The motivation for this study is the abundance of reports of failure of ICT integration programs. Specifically, this study explores the construction of the failure and success concepts in the national ICT integration project in the Israeli K-12 educational system (Chen, 2006; Melamed, 2008; Zinder, 2006).

Educational researchers have studied the successes and failures of ICT integration projects through the lens of disciplines such as educational management and educational innovation (e.g., (Chen, 2006; Kozma, 2003; Law, Pelgrum, & Plomp, 2008). In this study we attempt to apply the tools and insights of science and technology studies (STS) to explore these same questions through a different lens.

STS is a discipline that utilizes science anthropology, history of science and technology, and philosophy. STS researchers explore the social, historical, and philosophical origins of scientific and technological developments, using constructivist models which express the interrelationships between science, technology, and sociology (Giere, 2006; Pinch 1993). STS is thus expected to shed new light on this question, since it utilizes research methods and applies models that are not a part of the toolkit of mainstream educational researchers who study ICT integration.

The two STS approaches used in this study are actor-network theory (ANT) and social construction of technology (SCOT). ANT is a theoretical framework used in STS to demonstrate the way technological artifacts are constructed in society. Under this framework, the actants (both human and non-human entities) are identified, and networks in which they are embedded are explored, in order to identify ways in which social context is bound up with the different actants (Latour & Woolgar, 1986). One of the significant advantages of ANT in relation to alternative approaches to understanding technology-rich settings is that it treats both people and technological artifacts (humans and non-humans) symmetrically and thus can expose relationships and contexts which are more difficult to detect using other approaches (Doolin & Lowe, 2002; Tatnall & Gilding, 1999).

It is important to note that despite the fact that ANT studies a socially embedded network, it should not be confused with social network analysis (SNA). In a paper that focuses on common misunderstandings of ANT, Latour (1996) emphasizes that "the actor network theory ... has very little to do with the study of social networks" (pg. 2). Knox, Savage, and Harvey (2006) elaborate on the common origins of the network approaches in social network analysis and in social anthropology. They then go on and emphasize that the former is a method employed by predominantly quantitative social scientists, while the latter is a qualitative method used by social anthropologists.

SCOT is an approach which studies the development of technological artifacts through the identification of relevant social groups. A relevant social group is a group whose members all "share the same set of meanings attached to the same artefact" (Pinch & Bijker, 1984, pg. …

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