Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Meeting the "Digital Natives": Understanding the Acceptance of Technology in Classrooms

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Meeting the "Digital Natives": Understanding the Acceptance of Technology in Classrooms

Article excerpt


Information and communication technology (ICT) has been introduced into K12 schools since the late 1990s with the expectation that it can transform education and facilitate students' learning in China (Gu & Ouyang, 2008; Zhang, Fang, & Ma, 2010) and other countries (Hew & Brush, 2007). Like other IT application areas, the success of technology integration into classrooms depends on how end users, including teachers and students, accept and use technology. A better understanding of the benefits, barriers, and other factors affecting the end users' acceptance of technology would be helpful in providing them with the proper support, services, and tools.

Studies on technology acceptance and its associated factors in the area of IS and end-user computing have proliferated, and a variety of theoretical models have attempted to explain the determinants of individual acceptance and use of information technologies. In these studies, however, little attention has been paid to end users of technology in classrooms, where the impact of technology depends on both the teachers and students who use it. Between these two groups, a new kind of digital gap is emerging.

Current students are more knowledgeable than their teachers when it comes to ICT. Given this phenomenon, Prensky (2001) coined the terms "digital natives" to describe students and "digital immigrants" to describe teachers. Today's students have also been called the "Net Generation" (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005) and "new millennium learners" (Pedro, 2007). These students have been raised in a digital environment that has shaped how they think, behave, and act. Therefore, the nature of technology usage in and out of schools and the acceptance of technology between digital natives and digital immigrants are presumably radically different.

The present study seeks to understand how the two groups of end users differ in technology usage in and out of school, as well as their respective attitudes toward it. Literature related to the success, failure, and barriers to ICT integration from the perspective of the end users was initially reviewed. The constructs from technology acceptance models and IT success literature were then compiled. Empirical data were gathered to find the differences among various situations. Given that the technology integrated into classrooms is designed by teachers for the benefit of students, knowing the difference of technology acceptance among teachers and students could help in the development of classroom technology products that cater to digital natives.

Literature review

Conditions that do not support the integration of ICT can be considered barriers. In their efforts to examine the current barriers related to the integration of technology in the curriculum of K12 schools, Hew and Brush (2007) analyzed existing empirical studies of technology integration from 1995 to spring 2006 in the United States and other countries. Of the six categories of barriers that were examined, at least two were related to teachers' behavior: the lack of specific knowledge and skills about technology integration, and attitudes and beliefs toward technology. The link between these types of barriers was constructed as well. For instance, teachers' attitudes and beliefs are affected by their knowledge and skills. Bingimlas (2009) similarly reviewed the literature of technology integration in science education. He found that although teachers had a strong desire for integrating ICT into education, they encountered many barriers, one of which was the lack of confidence and competence, or having negative attitudes and inherent resistance. Again, the barriers are somehow inter-related. These studies indicate that teachers' experiences, attitudes, and competence are vital to the success of ICT integration.

Like the role teachers play in the integration of technology, students are also actors in ICT integration in the classroom. …

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