Literature Review

My literature review is available for reading online (below) and downloading. Note that that my Final Report includes only two of the four major sections shown on this page.


Abstract

        This literature review examines the status of technology integration in education, the role of the educational technologist, and the relationship between the two. The first section establishes a landscape of obstacles and opportunities by providing a brief study of the state of technology integration. Next, the role of the educational technology integration specialist is scrutinized to determine precisely what types of services this position can provide to an educational community. The third section links the first two, citing literature that postulates that the educational technology integrationist role can provide significant advancements in technology integration into education. The final section looks beyond the educational technologist and outlines other possibilities, as well as complications, that may affect technology integration. The purpose of this literature review is to establish a research backbone that supports my action research: specifically, that the presence and work of an educational technology integrationist can greatly contribute to technology integration in a middle school.

Section 1: Technology Integration in Education is Underwhelming

        Instructional technologies have been defined as devices that teachers may use to provide instruction in a more efficient manner than without the technology (Cuban, 1986). In his comprehensive study of technology and education in the 20th century, Cuban noted that alongside the evolution of instructional technologies since the 1920s, from radio to computers, there had been claims of extraordinary changes to both teacher practice and student learning. Following the introduction of each innovation, however, was a predictable cycle of complaints about the logistics of using the technology, its imperfections, its incompatibility with existing systems, expressed teacher disappointment, and finally, blame-laying. Cuban noted that the cycle from excitement to disappointment had been a predictable trend throughout the 20th century, and was partially attributable to the excessive involvement of non-educators in the instructional technology realm.

The perspectives that Cuban (1986) outlined were echoed repeatedly in later literature, though there were many explanations for the lack of technology integration, and theories abounded that attempted to address the underuse of educational technology. In a brief article outlining the myths and realities of technology use in K-12 schools, Kleiman (2000) explained that instructional technology investments were often made on the potential of the new technology, rather than its actual capabilities. The author elucidated that the incursion of technology into schools progressed more quickly than both the educational vision and the planning required for proper implementation and use of the technology. Kleiman then attempted to support this theory by outlining various truths and misconceptions about technology use in education, such as those concerning technology practices, availability, and planning. The author attempted to debunk the myths that adding computers to schools will directly improve learning, that there are agreed-upon goals defining how computers should be used in classrooms, that teachers’ basic knowledge with computers would translate to effective classroom technology use, and that existing school or district technology plans are sufficient. By carefully examining each of these perceived misconceptions, Kleiman highlighted what he deemed as the foremost issues preventing technology integration in education.

In an attempt to clarify his own set of misconceptions and truths about technology integration in education, while at the same time directly questioning Cuban’s (1986, 2000 cited in Becker, 2000) conclusions regarding poor technology integration, Becker (2000) thoroughly reviewed data collected in a 1998 national survey of teachers, and conceded that Cuban’s perspective is largely accurate in many areas of educational technology. For example, regarding software applications, the author highlighted significant gaps between the potential user-base of academic software and the number of teachers who used those applications. Specifically, Becker pointed out that the only type of software that had acquired frequent use across disciplines was word processing, one of the oldest and earliest adopted tools. After carefully considering teachers’ educational philosophies and technology integration, Becker (2000) acknowledged that integration remained on the periphery, stating, “Cuban appears to be correct that technology integration has been accomplished by a relatively small group of academic subject-matter teachers who are significantly different than their peers in terms of teaching philosophy,” (p. 18).

Following in Becker’s footsteps, Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon and Byers (2002) stated frankly that, notwithstanding the rapid growth of access to computers in schools, computer use in the classroom remained unimpressive. Even with technology accessibility, the authors referred to the process through which teachers struggled to incorporate a novel innovation into their comfortable teaching environment as “messy,” (Zhao et al., 2002, p. 483). In their study, the authors, pondering the question of why computers and other technologies were not being used as expected in schools, cited numerous conditions involving the teacher, the project, and the context, which must be considered for more successful integration. Regarding the teacher, these conditions included the educator’s familiarity with the technology as well as compatibility between the technology and the teacher’s pedagogical beliefs. A condition to be considered with regards to the project included the relative distance of the technology project from the school culture. Finally, the context, which Zhao et al. define as the school, must have the culture, human support infrastructure, and technology infrastructure to support successful integration.

Accessibility to the equipment remains a common element in poor educational technology integration. Norris, Sullivan, Poirot and Soloway (2003), in a study that sought to understand why children and teachers were not benefitting from technology, opened with the statement that the impact of computing technology on K-12 education over the previous 25 years was estimated to be zero. Later, the authors concluded blatantly “that teachers’ use of technology for curricular purposes is almost exclusively a function of their access to that technology,” (Norris et al., 2003, p. 25). In support of this, the authors stated that the number of classroom computers was the most important prognosticator of technology use (Norris et al., 2003). Norris et al. ended as firmly as they had begun, proclaiming as a fact that the impact of classroom technology on both teaching and learning had been minimal.

Acknowledging the importance of accessibility, Bauer and Kenton (2005) proposed that schools had yet to achieve genuine technology integration, and thus conducted a study that attempted to understand why the integration had not occurred. In addition to accessibility concerns, the authors asserted that a lack of teacher planning and preparation time presented a major obstacle and lead to a lack of technology integration. In a brief retrospective on educational technology use in the 1980s and 1990s, Bauer and Kenton cited poor planning and a misunderstanding of the roles that computers could play as reasons for reduced integration. Specifically, the authors noted that teachers felt threatened by computers and were concerned that computers may replace them altogether. Bauer and Kenton also cited poor overall training as a contributor to poor integration.

Zhao and Bryant (2006) examined the subject of teacher training and preparation in their qualitative investigation into whether teacher technology integration training alone would establish integration. The authors began by reiterating what had become a reliable proposition, that technology integration was a major concern in education, with computers mainly being used for administrative work, rather than curricular work. Although Zhao and Bryant identified numerous benefits of training, owing to the many facets of technology integration in schools, the authors concluded that technology training alone was not sufficient to lead to teachers’ frequent and high levels of technology use in the classroom. The researchers determined that a significant flaw with a reliance on training as a means for advancement of technology integration was the ineffectiveness of generalized training directed towards a large and varied group of teachers. Zhao and Bryant instead recommended curriculum-oriented technology training that progressed beyond the attainment of rudimentary computer skills and instead focused on seamless technology integration into the curriculum.

While Zhao and Bryant (2006) focused on training as a potential method of improvement for the lack of technology integration, Groff and Mouza (2008) provided an extensive review of the literature that confronted technology use in the classroom and then generated a framework for confronting technology usage in the classroom. Noting an absence of progress in technology integration in schools, the authors suggested a multitude of challenges that must be overcome before significant technology integration could occur. These included the limited availability of hardware and software, a lack of teacher input, insufficient administrative support, potential problematic school cultures, individual mindsets and attitudes that are resistant to change, and inherent technology problems. Becker (2000) acknowledged the importance of teacher mindsets and furthered the argument by specifically endorsing Constructivism as the learning philosophy most likely to encourage technology integration. Per Becker, Constructivist theory claimed that knowledge was constructed as a result of a student’s integration of newly communicated claims and ideas with their own existing beliefs and understandings. Having stated that understanding cannot be transmitted, Becker elaborated that good teaching involved creating an environment where students had opportunities to develop their own understanding. Interestingly, Dede (2008) determined that educational technology tools designed with a Constructivist perspective in mind were more likely to be successfully integrated than tools created under other popular theories of learning. 

Groff and Mouza (2008) and Becker (2000) considered attitudes and perspectives on technology and learning, and this human-oriented perspective was seen extensively in other sources. Riel and Becker (2008) presented a link between certain teacher strengths and leadership abilities and their use of technology in their teaching, finding that only 12% of 4,000 teachers they interviewed were sufficiently engaged beyond their classrooms to be classified as “professionally engaged teachers,” (p. 405). Professionally engaged teachers worked beyond the classroom with peers, but also worked in the classroom to encourage their students to use computers on a consistent basis and use a wide variety of software tools. Riel and Becker stated that these teachers possessed a particular and unique mindset that included a motivation to master new technologies and a commitment to continual learning. Though these and other characteristics could encourage teachers to embrace technology, and even encourage its use amongst peers, Riel and Becker found that only a small number of teachers engaged in these practices.

While Riel and Becker (2008) focused on characteristics of teacher leaders, Bigum and Rowan (2008) analyzed the literature on technology integration, and characterized it as being “long on hope and hype and short on reports of outcomes that might be judged worthwhile,” (p. 248). Bigum and Rowan inferred that a lack of reports on positive outcomes may have been a result of unsuccessful administration-led forced integration projects, in which teachers were required to find useful things to do with technology tools, but instead fabricated or marginalized usage. Further, the authors cited creative limitations imposed on teachers involved in a reactive project, in which technologies are thrust upon a teacher and into classrooms, and teachers are required to incorporate technologies for which they may not have much understanding or interest. Finally, Bigum and Rowan established two important difficulties that prevented technology integration: the struggle to establish new technology in the classroom and the difficulty in continuing the use of the technology over time. Though these obstacles were sourced in Bigum and Rowan’s retrospective literature investigation, it appeared that these and other issues prevented adoption of even the newest technologies.

In an analysis of survey and focus group data, Luckin et al. (2009) questioned the use of Web 2.0 tools (tools that encouraged both consuming and creating web content) by middle school students. Despite students having access to these tools at home, the authors determined that only a small number of students were using the tools at a high level of sophistication at school, and in those cases further support was often needed. This foreshadowed the findings of Gouseti (2010), who examined whether web 2.0 tools could bypass Cuban’s (1986, cited in Gouseti, 2010) excitement-disappointment cycle. Though cautiously optimistic of the potential for Web 2.0 tools used in schools, Gouseti questioned if the difficulties inherent in educational technology implementation would prevent the promotion of these modern tools.

Preempting Gouseti’s (2010) inquiry on the integration of modern technologies into education, Dede (2008) analyzed the influence of three popular learning theories on the design and use of instructional tools, in an attempt to dispute Cuban’s (2001, cited in Dede, 2008) claims on the ineffectiveness of technology tools in education. The author, having defined Cognitivist knowledge building as a product of experience and thought, condemned Cognitivist-influenced, human-assisted intelligent tutoring systems as having made little progress towards successfully providing instruction, despite thirty years of effort. Regarding Behaviorist perspectives, which Dede explained as the gaining of knowledge through experience, the author concluded that the majority of teachable material in a modern curriculum lay beyond the realm of capability that this theory could offer. For this reason, educational tools constructed under this philosophy were deemed relatively ineffective. Dede indicated that educational technology tools designed with a Constructivist approach had the greatest likelihood of being successful, but immediately acknowledged that Constructivist-designed tools that were mismatched with their subject matter were not likely to provide effective learning. The author lamented the disparity between the number of learning perspectives and the then-current variety of instructional technology applications, saying, “Currently, widely used instructional technology applications have less variety in approach than a low-end fast-food environment” (Dede, 2008, p. 58). This creative phrasing underlined Dede’s belief that while individual learning is as diverse as eating preferences, the variability in options for the former paled when compared to variability in options for the latter. This imbalance of mindset or approach and technology permeated later literature.

Clearly unimpressed with contemporary attitudes towards technology and modern educational technology tools, Neil Selwyn’s (2011) editorial proposed that the solution to the educational technology integration problem was a shift in attitude towards healthy pessimism. The author suggested approaching educational technology with a non-negative but pessimistic attitude that prepared individuals for technology use in an imperfect world and embraced a mindset that included searching for alternatives. Selwyn artfully phrased the question that underlined the works of countless researchers when he wrote, “Why has there been no educational ‘killer-app’ or ‘game-changing’ technology that has transformed learning along the open, mass participatory and convivial lines that we are continually being promised?” (p. 715). The author posed this question hypothetically, highlighting that the question was born out of an overly optimistic perspective on the transformative power of educational technology rather than a focus on what technology could actually contribute. In this vein, some researchers have chosen to focus on particular areas where technology could potentially impact education. For example, prior to Selwyn, Riel (1992) posited that computers, when used for communication purposes, had the potential to alter and improve technology use in education.

        Focusing on collaborative educational telecommunication, Riel (1992) highlighted the potential for increased participant diversity and inter-teacher cooperation as unique strengths of communicative technology in education. Indeed, Riel directly challenged Cuban, arguing that the links formed by teachers had the potential to break Cuban’s (1986, 1989 cited in Riel, 1992) cycle of blame and disappointment. Riel concluded that though the technology can enhance education, the onus for affecting change in education fell on human participants. She stated, “Telecomputing can link minds, but it is the collective action of educators that will change education,” (Riel, 1992, p. 28). Riel clearly highlighted the necessity of human involvement in affecting change in educational technology.

        There is an identifiable problem of underwhelming technology integration in the reviewed literature. Researchers have suggested many factors that may affect integration including a lack of access to technology (Norris et al., 2003), teacher preparation time (Bauer & Kenton, 2005), misguided training efforts (Bauer & Kenton, 2005; Zhao & Bryant, 2006), misplaced administrative involvement (Bigum & Rowan, 2008), attitudinal or mindset concerns (Becker, 2000; Dede, 2008; Groff & Mouza, 2008; Riel, 1992; Riel & Becker, 2008; Selwyn, 2011), and the application of learning theories (Becker, 2000; Dede, 2008). Owing to the complex nature of the issues presented, numerous oppositional theories were also discovered, including Zhao et al.’s (2002) perspective that even when access to technology was not limited, technology integration remained challenging. The intention of the next section of this literature review is to outline a new human resource, the educational technology integrationist, one that may be both Selwyn’s (2011) potential game-changer and a vital member of Riel’s (1992) cooperative educator team.

Section 2: The Role of the Technology Integrationist

        The role of the technology integrationist may be one of the most important factors when attempting to further encourage technology integration in the classroom, because the position represents a potential shift in favor of successful implementation projects. Before considering how the role may contribute to technology integration, the literature should be reviewed thoroughly to develop an in-depth understanding of the position. Owing to the newness of the role, the job is regularly referred to as a variety of professional titles and is commonly compared to traditional technical support roles. Therefore, of particular interest in the body of literature is the distinction between technology integrationist and technology support positions.

The literature underscored that numerous job titles with very similar descriptions exist and it is important to understand the nomenclatures used to describe the general role. Zhao et al. (2002) identified the need for a particular type of human resource, which they referred to as a “translator,” (p. 502). The function of the translator was to assist the teacher to understand and utilize technologies for his or her classroom needs. This concise job description was reiterated repeatedly throughout the literature, and there were numerous studies devoted entirely to determining precisely what the role entails.

        In an investigative and interview-oriented paper, Oliver (2002) attempted to analyze and outline the work performed by a role similar to Zhao et al.’s (2002) translator, the learning technologist. As a nomenclature point, Oliver attempted to categorize learning technologists and instructional technologists, and while he acknowledged similarities between the roles, a detailed distinction was not outlined. Early on, Oliver established that the learning technologist role was widely varied, and might have consisted of duties including research, management, technical support, and professional development. On this last topic, Oliver outlined a distinct requirement of the type of professional development provided by the learning technologist: the training must be heavily oriented around the particular needs of the teacher being trained. Owing to the close relationship between teacher and learning technologist, Oliver inferred that the line between development and collaboration was blurred. Collaborating with educators in distinct departments on specific curriculum projects was addressed as a particularly important type of cooperative work. Indeed, the author noted that understanding the departmental context of a given project was essential to the success of the learning technologist. Based upon discussions of the role with employed learning technologists, Oliver was quick to outline that the role places a greater emphasis on pedagogy than technology. 

Judith Davidson (2003) provided insight into the history of the similar role of educational technologist. Relying on a review of the literature, Davidson established that the role was emerging quickly, had not existed prior to the 2000s, and had arisen as a result of increased institutional reliance on networked technology. In an attempt to define the role, and with an eye on the history and development of the position, Davidson described the educational technologist as a combination of classroom teacher, computer room teacher, computer technician, curriculum specialist, administrator, professional development provider, and perhaps other positions as well. Echoing Oliver’s (2002) observation regarding the importance of pedagogy to the educational technologist’s role, Davidson asserted, “Whereas in the beginning of the project the notion of [educational technologist] as technician was a role that was overgeneralized, conversely the notion of [educational technologist] as a teacher was one that was undergeneralized,” (p. 737). Davidson expanded on this remark noting that the perception of the role of educational technologist was initially based on assumptions teachers have had about the role of a technology specialist as being peripheral rather than integral. Over time, however, Davidson noted that the perception of the role included more responsibilities and actions akin to teaching. This notion of educational technologist or instructional technologist as a teacher rather than a support agent was seen throughout the literature, and Davidson confirmed that educational technologists worked with teachers on both curriculum and individual lesson planning, and might even work side-by-side with the teacher in the classroom.

As part of a case study to document technology integration, Staples, Pugach and Himes (2005) provided useful insights into the role of educational technologist, which they identified as both an instructional technology specialist and a technology coordinator. As the case study reviewed a project that provided funds to pay for the services of an instructional technology specialist, the researchers were well situated to gain an observation-based understanding of the role. In making an illustration of the importance of the position, the authors highlighted the necessity of having an on-staff educational leader with strong technology skills and the ability to align the technology to the curriculum. Often this leader began their career as a teacher. Reinhart, Thomas, and Torskie (2011) echoed these perspectives in a sociological study. While describing technology facilitators and technology specialists as capable of providing support for technology use in classrooms, the authors emphasized that the facilitators were often teachers with additional training, and that their primary role was to integrate technology into the curriculum. 

Having established a detailed understanding of the teacher- and curricular-oriented role (as opposed to a support-oriented role) played by the educational technologist, the next step is to investigate contributions that this position can make towards technology integration in education.

Section 3: Educational Technologist as Contributor to Technology Integration

        In the abundant literature available on the subject of technology integration, a dedicated technology integration expert, such as the educational technologist, was often cited as an essential catalyst towards a positive change in educational technology adoption. Indeed, Zhao et al. (2002) insisted that a strong “human infrastructure” (p. 502) was central to the success of a technology implementation. This human infrastructure included the aforementioned translators, whose role it was to help teachers recognize and use technologies in their classroom. Specifically, interaction between teacher and technology integrationist was deemed imperative. The authors concluded, “teachers need to realize that technology integration requires support from others, even people with whom they have not interacted traditionally (e.g., technicians or technology coordinators),” (Zhao et al., 2002, p. 511). Inan and Lowther (2010) echoed the importance of support in their study to establish the factors that affected technology integration in education. The authors claimed that the unique type of teacher and technology support that an integrationist was capable of providing was found to be amongst the most prevalent variables that affected technology integration.

Following in the footsteps of Zhao et al. (2002), Davidson (2003) outlined the significance of the educational technologist role, as the role integrated responsibilities typically associated with multiple individuals including teachers, administrators, technical assistants and specialists. Regarding her extensive, hands-on study of technology integration, she stated, “a pivotal role in the work of integrating technology and curriculum belonged to those who were closest to the ground – the educational technologists,” (Davidson, 2003, p. 732). Davidson framed this statement with a summary of the historic development of the role, highlighting the progression from district-level work to classroom-level. This observation, rooted in Davidson’s direct interactions with principals and teachers, resonated with other studies where the direct beneficiaries were involved. Bauer and Kenton (2005) explained the role of “tech-coordinator” (p. 540) as a technology-capable administrator with time to dedicate to computer technology use by teachers, and suggested that schools might need such an administrator. A teacher involved in this study echoed this sentiment, saying: “It would be great if all schools had a tech teacher to coordinate lessons with the classroom teacher. I believe then technology would be best integrated into the curriculum,” (Teacher 1 as cited in Bauer & Kenton, 2005, p. 540). 

        Recalling that the role of technology integrator goes beyond technology and administrative skills, Zhao and Bryant (2006) provided another perspective on the value that the technology integrationist contributed to technology incorporation. In their review of the literature introducing their study, the authors emphasized that the presence of a mentor to teachers receiving technology integration training had quantifiable benefits to teacher abilities. The study, which pitted stand-alone technology training against other methods to encourage technology integration, found that teachers reported favorably on mentoring from a technology integration specialist, having deemed it the most beneficial supplement to the initial training. The teachers in the study cited the customization of the specialist-provided training to their particular needs as being beneficial. This aspect of learner-centered training compared to group-directed professional development directly addresses a weakness that had been shown to hinder technology integration. Furthermore, Zhao and Bryant found that the position of technology integration specialist addressed the established concern of a lack of teacher preparation time. The authors note, “teacher preparation time for integrating technology was reduced because someone who was more familiar with technology was providing integration ideas” (p. 59). Zhao and Bryant confirmed definitively that in-classroom, one-on-one mentoring provided by a technology integrationist as a supplement to training enabled quicker, more seamless technology integration compared to the training alone. 

Few studies or articles were as vehemently supportive of the transformative power of the technology integrationist role as Reinhart et al.’s (2011) study on sociological factors that may have contributed to a significant demographic gap in technology use. In addition to access to technology facilitators, the authors cited economic and social factors as influential in the integration of educational technology. For example, schools with greater financial resources were found to host students who used technology in methods that promoted higher order thinking. Regarding the benefits of technology facilitators, Referencing Hofer, Chamberlin and Scot, and Reinhart, and Slowinski (cited in Reinhart et al., 2011), the authors noted, “technology facilitators are needed to move technology from the periphery of classroom instructional tools to a central role that enables them to more fully impact learning” (p. 184). The study findings suggested a direct link between the presence of a technology facilitator and students employing higher-order cognitive skills. Training and support from technology facilitators was found to aid teachers in promoting those skills in students. 

According to the research, the presence and work of an educational technology integration specialist as a collaborative teaching and training partner can greatly contribute to technology integration. There are, however, many other factors that affect technology assimilation, and these factors are rooted in numerous fields, including school logistics and educator psychology.


Section 4: Other Significant Factors That May Affect Technology Integration

        In the pursuit of improved technology integration in education, the presence and function of a technology facilitator or integrationist was found to be only one of many potential contributing factors. The most oft-recurring obstacles presented in the literature were access, time restrictions, attitudes and mindsets, and proper application of technologies. Based on the researched descriptions of the role of technology integrationist, it seems that these obstacles were not necessarily of a nature that the integrationist alone could overcome.

Access

The necessity of access to technology was mentioned repeatedly in the literature on technology integration. While Kleiman (2000) considered the notion of a direct link between more computers and better learning a myth, Zhao et al. (2002) acknowledged the value of easy access to a competent technical infrastructure, which included computers. Becker (2000) stated that students gained significantly more computer experience if they had greater access to computers. He qualified this by noting a marked difference between access to a computer lab and access to in-classroom computers, the latter being more beneficial. Acknowledging that demographics and attitudes played a role in technology integration, but taking the accessibility case further, Norris et al. (2003) also set access as a necessary condition, stating that “teachers’ use of technology for curricular purposes is almost exclusively a function of their access to that technology,” (p. 25). Channeling Becker, Norris et al. included the logical statement that if students lacked access to computers in the classroom, then those computers could not possibly impact their learning. Inan and Lowther (2010) supported this point, citing past studies that linked frequency of computer use with the number of computers available; however, they were quick to counter that other studies described computer access as necessary but not sufficient for establishing technology use in the classroom. Indeed, Inan and Lowther (2010) were not the only authors to acknowledge the issue of accessibility and then downplay its role. Groff and Mouza (2008) lamented, “Unfortunately, access to resources cannot guarantee effective instructional use of technology” (p. 28). Access-related limitations on resources represented just one of many potential barriers to technology incorporation.

Time Restrictions

Regarding the impact of various restrictions on technology integration, numerous studies concluded that time played a crucial role. Becker (2000) concluded that “extending the secondary classroom period from 50 minutes to significantly longer blocks of time” (p. 29) could combine with other factors (including access to computers and sufficient teacher-technology experience) to have a significant impact upon the number of teachers using computers for their classroom lessons. Taking a tangential stance on time, Bauer and Kenton (2005) highlighted that time limitations on teachers, (planning time), and on students, (computer time), prevented technology integration. The authors considered the lack of teacher planning time to be significant enough to have warranted the attention of both teachers and administrators. Reinhart et al. (2011) channeled Bauer and Kenton when they referred to Cuban et al.’s (as cited in Reinhart et al., 2011) lament that teachers did not have enough time either at home or at school to incorporate technology into their lessons, in addition to their other responsibilities. As has been discussed, the presence of a technology facilitator may alleviate some of the time restrictions imposed on teachers by technology integration projects.

Attitudes and Mindsets

Beyond access and time issues, cultural, attitudinal or mindset issues were frequently cited as obstacles or opportunities that had to be addressed to achieve technology integration. Riel (1992) stated that educational institutions needed to embrace technology-driven social interactions and exchanges in order to foster successful technology integration. Further, Riel strongly suggested that technology integration evaluation should measure not only what students might have learned from a tool or project, but also what the teacher may have learned. Becker (2000), focusing on the mindset of the teacher rather than the institution, went to great lengths to highlight the impacts that teachers’ educational philosophies could have had on the use of technology in education. His statistical analysis leads to a remarkable conclusion: “Computer-using teachers – that is, teachers who have their students do any computer work during class at all – are distinctly more Constructivist that non-using teachers” (p. 12). Becker is careful to note that the adoption of a particular philosophy may have made computer use more likely; however, ideological adoption by itself did not ensure integration. Expanding the importance of espousing a particular theory, the author later suggested that both teacher-level and institution-level characteristics had the potential to guide teachers toward Constructivist pedagogy. 

        Regarding the involvement of the greater school community, Oliver (2002) purported that the readiness of the departments involved in a technology integration project was fundamental to success. Further, the author noted that educators were not likely to engage with a development if they did not see value in it. Similarly, participants must have perceived the learning technologist as credible; otherwise the educator may not have recognized him or her as an expert to be collaborated with, but merely as a service provider. Zhao et al. (2002) presented an interesting opposing point, warning that, in environments where a healthy human infrastructure existed to support technology innovation, dependence or reliance upon those human resources, including technology translators, could increase and potentially impede technology integration. Davidson (2003) presented a different but important perspective on human relationships, noting that educators with a pre-existing bias against technology were likely to view interactions with educational technologists negatively. Riel and Becker (2008) emphasized behaviors required by teachers to become technology leaders and mentors. Specifically, the authors identified the ability and desire to continuously learn and adapt as being a primary characteristic of educational technology leaders. The authors concluded, “teachers who focus only on how to teach, to the exclusion of an adaptive inquiry process, are less likely to become involved with technology because, by its nature, use of technology requires a high commitment to continual learning” (p. 412). Finally, Selwyn (2011) was keen to point out that the attitude and mindset of the technology specialist could negatively impact the integration of technology into education.

        While detrimental mindsets or relationships might have hindered technology integration, in some instances that hindrance may have been a result of the cultural or institutional sentiment towards technologists. Involvement, commitment, and leadership by the top administration were emphasized as integral to successful technology integration (Staples et al., 2005). Furthermore, Staples et al. asserted that the technology integration and the work of the integrationist must be in alignment with the mission and curriculum of the school. Interestingly, Zhao and Bryant (2006) note that, in some cases, teachers may have been wholly unaware of the existence and role of the technologist at their institution. This lack of awareness, underscoring poor communication and understanding, highlights yet another contributing factor in the successful integration of technology into education.

Proper Application of Technologies

        Riel (1992) presented specific advantages to student education and teacher-peer interactions, which could be more easily achieved with the use of information and communication technologies than with traditional methods. For teachers, information exchange and collaborative work based on communication technologies provided a forum for discussion and sharing of ideas, as well as a means to assist teachers with varied technology access. Riel asserted that communicative technologies also provided the capability to increase the diversity of participants in a lesson, thus increasing social resources for students. Dede (2008) furthered this notion, arguing that technological learning environments fostered learning opportunities for students. He supported this by referencing an earlier study that reported an increase in participation and cognitive growth by students engaged in digital, asynchronous environments. Underlining the potential for technology-based learning, Dede wrote that some students “indicated that threaded discussions online often fostered better quality conversations than they had experienced in traditional classrooms,” (p. 55). This finding emphasized Dede’s perspective that technology tools, created and used correctly, had the potential to greatly enhance traditional education. Similarly, incorrectly designed, selected, or employed technology could be detrimental to integration efforts. Riel and Dede highlighted the importance of careful consideration to the intended purpose of technologies in education.

        It appears that human-oriented obstacles may have been presented as some of the greatest restrictions on the degree to which the educational technologist could function as an agent of change to technology integration in schools. Provided with the appropriate financial resources, the educational technologist may be able to address issues of technology accessibility, but funding issues and bureaucracy challenges which lie beyond the realm of the technologist may complicate attempts to increase access. Similarly, while the technologist may be able to help teachers regain time lost to projects requiring skills beyond those possessed by the teachers, many issues involving time (such as class duration) must be addressed at an administrative level. Regarding attitudinal and mindset issues at the individual, department, or institution level, the educational technologist has little power to provide solutions. The integrationist has direct control over only his or her own attitude, and has an indirect ability to contribute to the attitudinal changes in colleagues by maintaining a professional demeanor and achieving goals. Unfortunately, however, the majority of solutions for attitudinal or mindset issues are out of reach of the technologist. On the contrary, a capable educational technologist in a healthy working environment should have the opportunity to select particular technologies and encourage their proper application.


Conclusion and Direction

        The lack of technology integration into education is a concern among many researchers. There are countless factors including technology accessibility, training and professional development, administrative and institutional dynamics, attitudes and mindsets, and time constraints that may encourage or hinder greater use of technology in an educational setting. While it would be virtually impossible to address all of the opportunities and challenges prevalent in technology integration, it is clear that the new role of an educational technology integration specialist may be a valuable contributor to improving integration. Proper execution of the integrationist role may aid in overcoming challenges that have plagued educational technology since its inception, and, in the absence of these challenges, new teaching possibilities for teacher-technologist collaborative teams may become apparent.


Please have a look at my Field of Action page to learn more about the context in which I will perform my Action Research.

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