Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

The Invisible Barrier to Integrating Computer Technology in Education

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

The Invisible Barrier to Integrating Computer Technology in Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

The article explores contradictions in teachers' perceptions regarding the place of computer technologies in education. The research population included 47 teachers who have incorporated computers in the classroom for several years. The teachers expressed positive attitudes regarding the decisive importance of computer technologies in furthering teaching, learning and their professional advance. However they mainly incorporated basic computer applications in their teaching, and hardly utilized computer mediated communication. It was further found that most teachers are convinced that meaningful learning can be attained without the need for computer technology. This position, together with the partial use of these technologies, exposes a rooted attitude according to which the teachers do not believe in the pedagogic advantages of computer technologies. The contradictions in their perceptions inhibit the process of change in attitude needed for the full assimilation of computer technologies in education.

Keywords: teachers' perceptions, information and communication in education, computer integration, changes in education

1. Introduction

More than three decades have passed since the entry of computers to school. Nowadays, new information and communications technologies (ICT) are perceived by educational policy makers as a lever for the new and dynamic pedagogy, which offers other ways of improving teaching and learning (Mouza, 2003; Wellington, 2005). Solomon (1996) emphasizes that realizing the constructivist approach in education is feasible thanks, to a large extent, to computerization and its potential.

Although agreement is lacking over the level of impact of these technologies on altering the face of education (Cuban, 2001), there would seem to be agreement over their necessity. Nowadays the discussion focuses on the question of the conditions for their assimilation in the education system and on examining the factors involved in that process.

Despite the headway in the practice of integrating computers in education significant disparity still exists between the promise embedded in the ICT revolution and the reality in schools. Studies verify that many students and teachers confirm that there has indeed been an increase in the use of computers in the classrooms thanks to their greater accessibility, to the teacher training, and to policy that encourages their use, but this is mainly manifested in basic actions - the use of a word processor for writing, for constructing presentations, for seeking information on the network and for emailing (Cuban, 2001). The extent to which computer technologies are integrated in the education system using more advanced techniques - problem solving using ICT, the use of computerized laboratories, managing a class internet site, learning in cooperative communities and so on - was lower than expected (Palak & Walls, 2009; Hills, 2010).

Why is the situation thus? Why was the pedagogic potential embedded in the computer technologies not realized in full? According to Ertmer (2005) many teachers use advanced technology to further their traditional methods without altering their pedagogic approach and without striving to realize new objectives. It is not surprising, therefore, that the partial integration of computer technologies by teachers, and the use of basic methods is far more common than their integration using advanced methods - methods that are likely to alter the teaching from its foundations. Rogers (2003) maintains that the adoption of innovation is a multi-stage process: the pace at the start of the process is slow, then accelerates dramatically, peaks, and thereafter slows again. Since the use of basic applications preceded the use of advanced applications, it is possible that insufficient time has passed for the acceptance of the desired educational changes (Ertmer, 2005). Several researchers developed models for integrating technology in the education system (Becker, 1994; Franklin, 2007; Sandholtz, Ringstaff & Dwyer, 1997) according to whom teachers need five-six years in order to make educated use of technologies in a manner that will advance the realization of the constructivist approach. …

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