Technology-Using Teachers

Summary of the Case Study

The exploratory study was conducted by Ertmer, Gopalakrishnan, and Ross (2001) to compare exemplary technology use by teachers and the descriptions of the best practice described in the literature, underlining the significance of teachers’ personal beliefs. The researchers utilized qualitative design to analyze the distinctness in pedagogical views and practices among 17 exemplary technology-using teachers (Ertmer et al., 2001).

The study sets forward research questions interrogating the “characteristics of teachers who perceive themselves as exemplary technology users” as compared to the way the literature describes teacher use of technology (Ertmer et al., 2001, p. 5).

Also, this research concentrates on the comparison of the teachers’ points of view about the best practices and those portrayed in pedagogical literature. The analysis showed that the professional context and the personal belief paradigm influence the choice of approaches to the work with students in the classroom even if teachers consider themselves exemplary technology users. The way teachers use technology in the classroom differs from the implications presented in literature and, on the contrary, is caused by their perception and personal beliefs.

Analysis of the Case Study

The modern education process has faced a significant shift in the spectrum of tools used for the teaching process in the classroom. Due to technological advancement, educators consider technology to be an influential tool capable of enhancing the learning process (Liu, 2011). Many educational programs develop their curriculums following the latest advancements in technology encouraging teachers to use specific devices in their classroom work (Hew & Brush, 2007).

Despite all the literature underlying the techniques for the best educational practices, many scholars agree that the personal beliefs and views of teachers influence their approaches to the learning process, thus affecting the real-life effectiveness of the classroom work (Fullan, 2016; Guskey, 2000; Liu, 2011; Staub & Stern, 2002; Wilkinson et al., 2017). Therefore, the overall educational practice greatly depends on the personal and professional beliefs of teachers (Fullan, 2016). That is why the approach that a teacher uses in his or her work reflects his or her subjective professional preferences but not the knowledge received from literature sources.

Ertmer et al. (2001) view the teachers on an “instruction-construction continuum,” where professionals on the different ends of the continuum have different attitudes towards the approaches to teaching (p. 1).

Teachers utilizing the instructional perspective implement the existing techniques and knowledge used by others due to its perceived effectiveness accepted in practice. However, the educational professionals on the constructional side of the continuum concentrate on the individuality of a student and apply specific authentic tasks to facilitate the development of particular skills and knowledge. According to Ertmer et al. (2001), the use of technology in the classroom is more applicable to the teachers of a constructional type. Such teachers might utilize personally developed techniques which are not introduced in literature but are applied due to the pedagogical beliefs and experiences.

According to Staub and Stern (2002), who also refer to the constructivism theory as the basis of contemporary pedagogy, any teaching process depends on the teacher’s perspective which allows for situational control of the educational process for the results’ achievement necessary for a particular student. Indeed, the use of any means of learning, including technology, is determined by the subjective choice of a professional working with the students.

Tondeur, van Braak, Ertmer, and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2017) state that teachers do not blindly adhere to the literature but adjust the curricular activities and tools to the requirements of a particular class. Although available devices enable the use of multiple approaches to teaching and learning, thus enhancing the applicability of teachers’ beliefs to the educational process, teachers tend to use more traditional methods.

Consequently, the professional development of teachers using technologies in the class should utilize multiple methods in their everyday pedagogical work. To enhance effectiveness, these methods have to be based on teachers’ beliefs and experiences with a priority set on students’ excellence. As Guskey (2000) states, the professional development of teachers should be an ongoing process especially in the demanding world of rapid technological advancement.

Technology-related professional development of educators has to be constructed based on interpersonal experience exchange due to the variety of approaches caused by personal judgment teachers accumulate in real-life classroom activities (Wilkinson et al., 2017). It is vital to make a school learning process the one that aims at the positive knowledge and skills development rather than the blind utilization of literature.

In conclusion, the study by Ertmer et al. (2001) investigates the differences between the exemplary practices of technology use as they are portrayed in literature and the ones carried out by teachers in classrooms. The findings show that the real educational situations that teachers have to deal with in their everyday jobs differ from the ones dictated by literature. This state of affairs imposes shifts in the techniques and educational approaches that depend on the personal beliefs and judgments of teachers. The constructional paradigm enables educators to apply technology more freely aiming at the best learning results. Teachers’ professional development should be adjusted to these findings to facilitate the learning process in schools.

References

Ertmer, P. A., Gopalakrishnan, S., & Ross, E. M. (2001). Technology-using teachers: Comparing perceptions of exemplary technology use to best practice. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(5), 1-27.

Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Guskey, T. R. (2000). Evaluating Professional Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Hew, K. F., & Brush, T. (2007). Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: Current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55(3), 223-252.

Liu, S. H. (2011). Factors related to pedagogical beliefs of teachers and technology integration.” Computers & Education, 56, 1012-1022.

Staub, F. C., & Stern, E. (2002). The nature of teachers’ pedagogical Beliefs matters for students’ achievement gains: Quasi-experimental evidence from elementary mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 344-355.

Tondeur, J., van Braak, J., Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2017). Understanding the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and technology use in education: A systematic review of qualitative evidence. Educational Technology Research and Development, 65(3), 555-575.

Wilkinson, I., Reznitskaya, A., Bourdage, K., Oyler, J., Glina, M., Drewry, R., … Nelson, K. (2017). Toward a more dialogic pedagogy: Changing teachers’ beliefs and practices through professional development in language arts classrooms. Language and Education, 31(1), 65-82.