Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Understanding an Elementary School Teachers' Journey of Using Technology in the Classroom from Sand Table to Interactive Whiteboard

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Understanding an Elementary School Teachers' Journey of Using Technology in the Classroom from Sand Table to Interactive Whiteboard

Article excerpt

Introduction

How and by whom the integration of information and communications technology (ICT) will be achieved is one of the priority issues in the field of education. The ways of using the ICT effectively is another important matter in this regard. This is because teachers are expected to both use the ICT effectively and teach students the ways of accessing information through the ICT. In this context, the increasing use of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in the instructional process has attracted the attention to what teachers actually do in this process, what kind of problems they experience, how they deal with these problems and what the effective practices are.

The use of technologies like IWBs in the classroom can provide teachers and students convenience and variety. Lack of such technologies means that the quality and the benefit of the process cannot be observed (Tataroglu & Erduran, 2010). IWBs can be defined as new generation whiteboards that facilitate and support learning and teaching (Turel, 2011) In different countries, projects are implemented and large amounts of money are spent to ensure the technology integration in education, use technology effectively and make its use widespread (Ekici, 2008; Lai, 2010; Saltan, Arslan & Gok, 2010; Turel, 2011; 2012). In this regard, countries such as Australia, England, United States and South Africa have many projects and investment particularly at the elementary school level (Lai, 2010). For example, in 2007, IWBs were used at 98% of high schools and 100% of primary schools in England (Becta, 2008, cited in Lai, 2010). Based on the literature, Emeagwali and Naghdipour (2013) lists the benefits of IWB to the instructional process as follows:

§ Increasing student motivation and sense of responsibility.

§ Increasing participation.

§ Increasing the effectiveness and frequency of student-teacher and student-student interactions.

§ Providing the opportunity to prepare for the lesson effectively.

§ Supporting teacher development and providing an opportunity for it.

§ Providing the opportunity to re-produce instructional materials into the digital environment.

Studies on IWBs show that teachers' attitudes are positive, IWBs are used relatively easily and some problems are experienced (Saltan et al., 2010). In a study, middle school teachers emphasized the benefits of using IWBs in their classes and the importance of participating in workshops on how to use them. Besides, they stated that the practical knowledge of IWBs was extremely important and this would be helpful in integrating IWBs into courses (Lai, 2010). In England, the effect of IWBs on student-teacher interaction was investigated in teaching reading-writing and mathematics. Based on the findings, it was emphasized that IWBs had a small effect on discourse moves in the context of teaching through interacting with the whole class, there was quicker progress in lessons taught with IWBs and less time was spent on group-work activities (Smith, Hardman & Higgins, 2006).

According to a study conducted with 2007 teachers from 12 cities to determine teacher competencies in Turkey, the rate of teachers who never use instructional technologies in their classrooms was found to be 22%, and that of those who use these technologies a few times a month was 49%. From this perspective, it can be argued that the investment in instructional technologies can be ineffective without necessary teacher competencies (Turkish Education Association, 2009). Similarly, according to the results of a study by the Ministry of National Education, 43% of teachers needed professional development in instructional technologies and materials development. 30.21% of teachers also needed inservice training on "using IWBs". Considering that this study was conducted with 57.358 teachers, it seems that nearly 25.000 teachers needed support in instructional technologies, and nearly 18.000 teachers in the use of IWBs (Ministry of National Education, 2012a). …

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