Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Predicting Teacher Computer Use: A Path Analysis

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Predicting Teacher Computer Use: A Path Analysis

Article excerpt

Across the nation, the need for technology planning has become an integral part of restructured school programs (Plotnick, 1997). The lack of funding and readily available resources is a critical factor in implementing any program in the nation's small rural schools, and, especially in technology. Small and rural school administrators must assure that technology implementation is carefully planned to maximize current resources and future funding.

Possibly the most critical element for successful planning and implementation of any major initiative, particularly technology, is a needs assessment. Specific technological approaches are necessary to meet special needs. A major emphasis in technology planning should be on the teacher/instructor, and to deploy technology effectively teachers may require a reorganization of the school and redefinition of the teacher's role. The basic question is: What competencies do teachers/instructors need to use technology effectively with their learners? A large portion of the educational, technology literature is about the design, development, and evaluation of instructional materials. There is an apparent lack of carefully initiated needs assessment in schools/districts prior to implementing technology plans specifically related to how teachers are using technology effectively and efficiently.

TECHNOLOGY PLANNING

Dr. Larry S. Anderson (1997), director and founder of the National Center for Technology Planning (NCTP) at Mississippi State University, has noted that less than 30% of America's schools possess a written technology plan that is integrated across the curriculum. A technology plan is defined as a "written document that represents the very best thinking accumulated in a particular environment (school building, district, state, etc.) for the purpose of studying technology infusion, then recommending direction for the future" (p. 2). The NCTP has the mission of assisting schools throughout the United States in technology planning efforts. Anderson stressed the importance of using strategic planning to help insure the success of a technology plan. The necessary components of technology planning, as noted by Anderson, are: (a) initiating structure - developing a technology planning team consisting of school personnel and other stake holders, (b) vision building - formulation of belief and mission statements of the technology plan through consensus, (c) development of goals and objectives, (d) formulation of an action plan, (e) implementation of the plan, and (f) on-going evaluation.

Without effective needs assessment prior to implementation of technology, its effective and efficient use in achieving the expected outcomes is unlikely (Flank & Livesey, 1993). In fact, improvement in academic achievement by using educational technology in many of the nation's schools has been dismal over the past decade. The failures have been attributed to such factors as: (a) limited knowledge of teachers about technology (Lamer & Timberlake, 1995), (b) a lack of technical support (Shick, 1996), (c) a lack of time to learn about technology (Quality Education Data, 1995), (d) technology plans based on numbers of machines and not learning outcomes (See, 1997), and (e) a lack of training and staff development. The National Educational Goals Report (1995) stated that only half of all teachers reported any professional development opportunities available to them in the areas of technology. Provisions for technology training and staff development must be included in technology planning. However, according to a technology study by Mann and Shafer (1997), teachers reported spending three times as much of their own time learning technology as they spent in district-sponsored training time. Hence, after the initial training phase, extra time commitment is required by teachers to master technology skills.

The Needs Assessment Component of Technology Planning

Perhaps the most crucial area of focus for the use of educational technology is student achievement. …

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