Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Consortium Update

It's been a month since I posted anything, so I thought I would check in. The consortium is going well. I'm happy to report that we still have about 20 people showing up consistently. We'll be covering VoiceThread in our next session.

I'm taking a Teacher Leadership course at UF. The professor approved a continuation of the Teach Web 2.0 project, so I was able to do a lit review focusing on what motivates teachers to integrate technology in the classroom. One common thread is social interaction. I'm posting that lit review here in the hopes that the blog can continue to serve as a history of this experiment.

Teach Web 2.0 Literature Review

Introduction

The Teach Web 2.0 Consortium is a wisdom community of teachers and administrators who research new Web 2.0 resources, evaluate their appropriateness at different levels, and collaborate on innovative curriculum design. The project is taking place at a K12 independent school in St. Petersburg, Florida and seeks to provide a resource of information about social networking for classroom teachers and administrators. It also offers a democratic process for evaluating social networking sites and their potential use to determine whether blocking a site is warranted. The consortium meets bi-weekly and collaborates via an online wiki. The wiki serves as a repository for group findings and a means of capturing historic data that can be updated as new resources come available. It is also on the Internet providing an avenue for those outside of the school to participate.

This alone would provide a useful service to the school and community. However, the desired outcome and ultimate goal of the consortium is to increase use of technology among k-12 teachers thereby positively impacting student learning. Effective cultural change in a school takes place from the inside out (Norum, 1999). Teachers should buy in, and they must accept change on their own terms. This literature review explores what motivates teachers to increase their use of technology so that these principles can be applied to the Teach Web 2.0 project.

Rationale

Web 2.0 represents a more collaborative, interactive Internet where individuals can easily share and contribute to global conversations. This new web offers so many opportunities for educational applications, but teachers are challenged by their resistance to change, the rate at which new tools are emerging, network security issues, and Internet safety concerns. Despite these challenges, students have embraced social networking and are actively using these tools in their private lives (Goodstein, 2007).

It would be impossible for just one or two teachers to stay abreast and evaluate all of these resources alone. By establishing a consortium, more individuals are available to assess these tools, examine options, and consider their potential use in the classroom. In addition, the consortium will provide a relatively safe and non-threatening learning environment where teachers and administrators can work collaboratively.

Literature and Project Design

Common barriers to technology integration include lack of a well-defined vision, limited skill, and lack of administrative support (Finley, 2004). Before launching the consortium, the project was pitched to the head of school and principals of each division. All agreed to support the project, sign for FCIS accreditation points, and include participation as an indicator of technology leadership on yearly teacher review documentation. The vision was presented to the entire faculty during pre-school week with obvious support from administration. Teachers were assured that participation was voluntary and that minimal technology skills were required. One of the key components for change is administrative support (Norum, 1999). The faculty would not accept this project without the critical approval and participation of the administrators.

We must also recognize and respect the teacher learning process. Sahin identifies five stages of technology adoption: teacher as learner, teacher as adopter, teacher as co-learner, teacher as reaffirmer or rejecter, and finally teacher as leader (Sahin, 2007). The consortium design facilitates a journey through these stages. New technologies are presented with resource links for participants to review. Individuals in the group come together as co-learners to figure out how the tool or site works. Some members of the group will choose to adopt the new technology, others may choose to affirm or reject it. Those who follow through become the leaders from whom the others learn. The process is repeated for each new social networking tool or site.

The collegial aspect of the consortium provides a support structure for participants. “Support is a major part of making changes, particularly when the change alters your professional identity and role. Learning from the experiences of each other can alleviate discomfort and anxiety associated with such changes” (Norum, 1999, pg. 187). Wesley Fryer further asserts, “teachers are best convinced by other teachers” (Fryer, 2004, pg. 12). “Those who are forced to use technology will use the minimum required” (Fryer, 2004, pg. 12). The consortium is voluntary and teachers are expected to work together, helping each other learn. It is pitched as an experiment with all the possibilities for success and failure in a non-threatening, nurturing environment.

Project TALENT, a pilot program in California, used a learning community of k12 master teachers, student teachers, and supervisors to model effective technology use in the classroom (Sherry, 2004). A number of important findings emerged from the project. Teachers were enthusiastic about their experience. Participants in the learning community started using various tools such as digital cameras and iMovie in their teaching. A teacher who moved to another school began to pass those experiences on at the new school. Other teachers began to show a greater interest in technology. Students in these schools began using technology in different ways more often. Sherry found that “implementing learning communities at the school will increase technology skills and leadership skills for the members of the learning community” (Sherry, 2004, pg. 294).


While there is structure around the consortium research process, teachers are encouraged to explore beyond the formal meeting sessions. Informal conversations take place throughout the weeks between sessions. This is important because teachers believe informal collaboration is more effective than that in a formal group (Stevenson, 2004). It should take place spontaneously, not separated from other professional conversation. The amount of collaboration is influenced by time and teachers’ perceived value (Stevenson, 2004). Stevenson also points out that informal collaboration with regard to technology is focused in two areas, sharing curriculum ideas and figuring out how to use a technology. Teachers discern between teacher-helpers who provide curriculum ideas and those who provide user support (Stevenson, 2004). The facilitators of the consortium are fellow teachers who are recognized as helpers in both focus areas.

Conclusion

The Teach Web 2.0 Consortium is meant to be a learning community of volunteer teachers who are interested in exploring social networking sites and tools in a non-threatening collegial atmosphere. Principles highlighted in the literature have been applied to create an environment conducive to the ultimate adoption of new technologies and transference to the classroom so that student learning is impacted. The hope is that even a handful of teachers who embrace these new technologies will influence those around them. If the project is successful, it has been designed to transfer easily to other schools and districts.

REFERENCES

Bebell, D., et. al., Measuring Teachers' Technology Uses: Why Multiple-Measures Are More Revealing. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 37 no. 1 (Fall 2004) p. 45-63

Finley, L., et. al., Institutional Change and Resistance: Teacher Preparatory Faculty and Technology Integration. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 12 no. 3 (2004) p. 319-37

Fryer, W. A. Working with Reluctant Teachers. Technology & Learning v. 25 no. 11 (June 2005) p. 12

Goodstein, Anastasia. (2007). Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online. New York. St. Martin’s Press.

Hughes, J. E., et. al., Content-Focused Technology Inquiry Groups: Preparing Urban Teachers to Integrate Technology to Transform Student Learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 36 no. 4 (Summer 2004) p. 397-411

Norum, K. E., et. al., Healing the universe is an inside job: teachers' views on integrating technology. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 7 no. 3 (1999) p. 187-203

Sahin, I., et. al., Analysis of Predictive Factors That Influence Faculty Members' Technology Adoption Level. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 15 no. 2 (2007) p. 167-90

Sherry, L., et. al., Project TALENT: Infusing Technology in K-12 Field Placements Through a Learning Community Model. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 12 no. 2 (2004) p. 265-97

Shuldman, M. Superintendent Conceptions of Institutional Conditions That Impact Teacher Technology Integration. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 36 no. 4 (Summer 2004) p. 319-43
Stevenson, H. J. Teachers' Informal Collaboration Regarding Technology. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 37 no. 2 (Winter 2004/2005) p. 129-44

Vannatta, R. A., et. al., Teacher Dispositions as Predictors of Classroom Technology Use. Journal of Research on Technology in Education v. 36 no. 3 (Spring 2004) p. 253-71

Zhao, Y., et. al., Teacher adoption of technology: a perceptual control theory perspective. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education v. 9 no. 1 (2001) p. 5-3

1 comment:

Anna said...

Great job on the lit review!