Teachers, technology and change: A study of five teachers

Year: 1994

Author: Snyder, Ilana

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The two-year study examined how five teachers (one Grade six and four Year 7) approached the integration of portable computers into the writing practices of their classrooms in an Australian private coeducational school. Analysis focused on how the teachers structured and carried out classroom practices and how the students participated in writing tasks when they had access to the computers. The social practices of these computer-mediated classrooms were also considered within the broader theoretical frame of educational innovation.

The descriptions of the classrooms revealed notable differences among the classroom environments that the teachers established and sustained. The findings suggest that computers function in classrooms as part of a complex network of social and pedagogical interactions. The study concludes, however, that the teachers' disposition toward the writing technologies and their structuring of the writing sessions had the greatest impact on the students' writing practices and the ways the computers entered into that writing. If the teacher was predisposed to explore the technology's possibilities, then that happened. But if the teacher was reluctant to do this, then the computers were used in minimal ways.

The study amplifies the understanding that we must move away from the belief that computers alone will transform classrooms and students' writing. Clearly, the experience and expertise of the teachers, the degree of support they receive and the kind and amount of technology available are all critical factors in determining the effectiveness of the teaching and learning of writing with computers. We need to explore, therefore, different models of initial training and ongoing support for teachers if they are to maximise the potential of computer-mediated writing classrooms.