Teacher commitment to education technology is necessary
by David Cicero
Introducing technology into the classroom requires accommodating changes to a school’s curriculum. When technology is implemented it represents a shift away from traditional methods of teaching; we must realize that not all teachers have the facility to commit, engage, and leverage technology effectively.
This may be due to a lack of belief in education technology, or it may be as simple as a lack of opportunity to develop the necessary skills and conceptualize its benefits. Teachers are not always comfortable with technology in the classroom, but there needs to be an affective commitment in order for technology to be effective in their classroom. According to “Acquiring Teacher Commitment to 1:1 Initiatives: The Role of the Technology Facilitator,” in the Journal of Research on Technology in Education, affective commitment in terms of technology integration is evident in three ways:
1) A positive attitude towards using technology for teaching and learning
This criteria seems to imply a wholly objective view of the positive effects technology can have on teaching and learning. But a positive attitude is not enough. Of course teachers must generally believe that technology can benefit their teaching practice and student achievement, but of more importance is their subjective view: whether or not they believe that the chosen technology will benefit their practice and their students’.
In the context of their student population and their current workload and vision for what they want to teach, teachers must agree that the technology is appropriate and adequate to meet the needs of the teachers and the students. One way to ensure this is to allow the teachers who will be expected to integrate the software to voice what they want in a technology product, help in choosing a product, and then pilot the product before full implementation.
2) The belief and ability to learn and leverage technology
This criteria is not mutually exclusive from the last: extending the first criteria fuels teacher belief that they can successfully use the product in the classroom. After all, if the technology will actually lessen their work load, teacher confidence will increase because of the extra time they have to learn and use the product. What truly distinguishes this characteristic is its focus on leveraging technology. Not only should teachers believe that using the technology will complement their administrative duties, but they should also believe that they can use the technology to more effectively teach their subject matter.
3) Share the vision of change represented by integrating technology
This is intended to be interpreted quite generally. Teachers that will be charged with utilizing new technology should believe in and understand the benefits of technology in general, and they should also support a more technologically integrated education system. In addition to sharing these overarching ideals, teachers should understand their school’s individual mission, goals, and implementation plans for technology integration.
Schools that empower and prepare their teachers in technology-based and blended learning classrooms according to these criteria are effectively reinforcing their curriculum’s infrastructure so that it has the will and the ability to support the initiative.
About the Author
David Cicero has a BA in mathematics from Our Lady of the Lake University and a MA in math instruction from Northern Arizona University. He moved to Arizona in 1994 and was a high school teacher for three years when he realized that he wanted his work to directly affect the classroom at the teacher level. He started working with Edgenuity as a Content and Curriculum Specialist and later became a Professional Development Consultant working with six states in the western half of the US. He is dedicated to advising schools on how to best drive positive student outcomes as he learns about how different schools implement technology in their classrooms.