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e Capacity

e Capacity

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The e-capacity of primary schools: Development of a conceptual model and scaleconstruction from a school improvement perspective
Ruben Vanderlinde
*
, Johan van Braak
Department of Educational Studies, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, B9000 Ghent, Belgium
a r t i c l e i n f o
 Article history:
Received 19 June 2009Received in revised form8 January 2010Accepted 17 February 2010
Keywords:
ICT integrationConceptual frameworkSchool improvementScale constructionFactor analysis
a b s t r a c t
In the search for factors affecting the use of ICT in educational settings, several authors have presentedholistic conceptual frameworks. In this study, we argue that while these models are valuable sources forconducting qualitative research, they are less useful for quantitative research since few measurementscales have been created. We present an empirically tested conceptual framework to further examine thecomplex process of integrating ICT for instructional purposes. This model has been developed froma school improvement perspective and considers the e-capacity of a school as an overarching concept.E-capacity refers to the schools' ability to create and optimise sustainable school level and teacher levelconditions to bring about effective ICT change. The conditions identi
ed are based on a literature reviewin the change and school improvement literature and the ICT integration literature. All conditions havebeen translated into reliable measurement scales. Questionnaire data were collected from a represen-tative teacher sample (
¼
471) in 62 primary school in Belgium (Flanders). Exploratory and con
r-matory factor analyses were conducted indicating good goodness of 
t estimates and good internalconsistency.
Ó
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
OneofthecentralactivitiesinInformationandCommunicationsTechnology(ICT)researchistheinvestigationofconditionsthatsupportthe integration of ICT into schools (Hew & Brush, 2007). While research has traditionally focused on individual teacher characteristics orconditionsattheteacherlevel,suchasindividualcomputerattitudesorgenderdifferences,webelievethatthisignoresthesocialcontextinwhichteachersbehave.Inarecentreviewstudy,HewandBrush(2007)show thatthemajorityofICTintegrationresearchprimarily focuseson the role of teacherlevelvariables, and that fewstudies examine important school levelvariables that mayaffect the integration of ICT. Inline with this view,Hermans, Tondeur, van Braak, and Valcke (2008)argue that future research should focus on speci
c school conditionsand school culture variables that mayexplain the use of ICT in classrooms. Otherauthors argue that ICT integration should be considered asa special case of educational innovation, and that research on ICT integration should build on theories and insights from the educationalchange and school improvement literature (e.g.Tearle, 2004; Watson, 2006). Furthermore,Somekh (2007)argues that we should adopt strategies about successful management of change to enable the use of ICT to support effective teaching and learning. We believe thatresearch on ICT integration should increase its focus on both the role of characteristics of the school organisation or school level conditions,andon ICTintegrationasacase ofeducational innovation.The
rstresearch focusimpliesthatICTresearchers shouldpaymoreattentiontothe role of school organisational features, the second research challenge means we endorse ICT can have a positive impact on studentlearning, like recently provided by rigorous research evidence (e.g.BECTA, 2007).Moreover, ICT itself is constantlyand rapidlyevolving. Hardware and softwareare changing very quicklyand schoolsarealso confrontedwith new technological developments, such as web 2.0. In certain countries national governments have even administered formal andcompulsory ICTcurricula.These curricula have aclear pedagogical foundation andtendtofocus moreon theuse of ICTas a tool for teachingand learning than the development of technical skills.Vanderlinde, van Braak, and Hermans (2009)argue that such ICT curricula causea shift in the policy actions of ICT support (i.e., from a technical rationale with the main focus on funding and resources to a pedagogicalrationale stressing student competencies). This is particularly the case in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, where the Flemish
*
Corresponding author. Tel.:
þ
32 9 264 86 30; fax:
þ
32 9 264 86 88.
E-mail address:
Ruben.Vanderlinde@UGent.be(R. Vanderlinde).
Contents lists available atScienceDirect
Computers & Education
0360-1315/$
e
see front matter
Ó
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.02.016
Computers & Education 55 (2010) 541
e
553
 
Government formulated cross-curricular ICT attainment targets for compulsory education in September 2007. In so doing the FlemishGovernment clearly outlines its view of how ICTshould be integrated into schools and expects them to put this formal ICTcurriculum intopractice (seeVanderlinde et al., 2009).In this study, we present a conceptual framework that we developed from a school improvement perspective. This framework wasdesigned to help identify and measure the factors in
uencing both ICT integration and the implementation of ICT curricula. Schoolimprovement is regarded as a strategy for educational change that aims to enhance student outcomes and strengthen the schools'capacity for managing change (Hopkins, 2001). The following key assumptions of the school improvement approach have been outlinedbyHarris (2002): (a) schools have the capacity to improve themselves, (b) school improvement involves cultural change, (c) there areschool level and classroom level conditions for change, and (d) school improvement is concerned with building greater capacity forchange.
2. The need for a new framework: e-capacit
As schools are being given greater autonomy and responsibility for their future, they must now operate as strategic organisations (vanden Berg, Vandenberghe, & Sleegers,1999). Their capacity to successfully implement educational innovations or policy initiatives (Geijsel,van den Berg, & Sleegers,1999) has become an important issue among researchersand policy makers (see alsoStoll,1999).Geijsel, Sleegers, Stoel, and Krüger (2009)rightly note that the schools' capacity to transform a large-scale reform into an accountable learner-orientedteaching practice has become a major focus in recent research into educational change. However, it is necessary to clearly conceptualise(Stoll,1999)andoperationalise(Geijseletal.,1999)thisconceptofcapacity.Fromaschoolimprovementperspective(Harris,2002;Hopkins, 2001;Stoll,1999), the schools'
capacity
can be generallyde
ned as the competence of a school toimplementeducational innovations or tobring about effective change (Geijsel et al.,1999; Malen & King Rice, 2004). A crucial matter in this context is that we assume that schoolshave the capacity to improve themselves while establishing school level and classroom level conditions to support and manage change(Harris, 2002; Hopkins, 2001).In this study, the concept of capacity, as described in the school improvement literature, has been translated and contextualised for thecaseofICTintegration.Wespeakaboutthee-capacityofaschool,de
nedasthecollectivecompetenceofaschooltoimplementICTinawaythat is a lever for instructional change. From this perspective, e-capacity is concerned with creating and optimising sustainable school leveland teacher level conditions to foster effective change through ICT. The school and teacher level conditions identi
ed in this study andpresentedinourmodel(seesection3)arebasedonbothareviewofthechangeandschoolimprovementliteratureandtheliteratureonICTintegration. As a starting point for our own conceptual model, we examined existing conceptual frameworks (Hew & Brush, 2007; Kozma,2003;Lim,2002;Tearle,2004),yetastheseframeworksdonotincludemeasurementscalestheywerethoroughlyrevised.Belowweoutlinethe central ideas within the frameworks studied. SeeTable 1for a summary overview of the existing conceptual frameworks.Kozma(2003)describestheconceptualframeworkdevelopedbythe
InternationalSocietyforTechnologyinEducation.
Thisframeworkoutlines factors that might in
uence the use of ICT in the classroom and its impact on educational outcomes.Kozma (2003)speaks about
innovative pedagogical practices that use ICT
and embeds these practices in a concentric set of contextual levels which include theclassroom (micro level), the school or local community (meso level), and state, national and international entities (macro level). For eachlevel,Kozma(2003)identi
edactorsandfactorsthatmediatechange.Factorsonthemicrolevelincludetheclassroomorganisation,teachercharacteristics, teachers' experience with ICT, and student characteristics. For the meso level,Kozma (2003)identi
ed school leaders andparents as possible actors; and the school organisation, ICT infrastructure, technical support, and local culture as possible factors. Nationaland state policies and international trends are identi
edon the macro level. This framework puts emphasis on characteristics of theinnovation (or innovative ICT practices), such as practicality, complexity, clarity, relevance, and need. It also takes into account existingteaching and student practices and the actual use of ICT.
 Table 1
Brief summary of the existing conceptual frameworks.Author Theoretical underpinnings Central concept In
uencing conditionsKozma (2003)Comparative education, schoolreform, technology and education,diffusion research, etc.Innovative pedagogical practicesthat use technology-
Innovation characteristics
(e.g. complexity, clarity)-
Micro level
(e.g. teacher background, classroom size)-
Meso level
(e.g. leadership, ICT infrastructure)-
Macro level
(e.g. policy makers, economic forces)-
Outcomes
(e.g. teacher competencies)Tearle (2004)- Management of change- Use of ICT in schoolsUse of ICT in teaching -
Individuals
(e.g. ICT skills, beliefs in ICT)-
The ICT implementation process
(e.g. support and training, resource provision)-
The whole school
(e.g. strong leadership)Lim (2002)- Sociocultural approach- Activity theoryICT-based lessons asactivity systems-
Course of study
(e.g. curriculum, assessment)-
School
(e.g. ICT facilities)-
Education system
(e.g. recruitment andtraining of teachers)-
Society at large
(e.g. publishers)Hew and Brush(2007)Technology integrationin K-12 schoolsTechnology integration forinstructional purposes-
Barriers:
resources, institution, subject culture,attitudes and beliefs, knowledge and skills, assessment-
Strategies:
vision building, overcoming scarcityof resources, changing attitudes, professionaldevelopment, reconsidering assessment
R. Vanderlinde, J. van Braak / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 541
e
553
542
 
The model presented byTearle (2004)is designed to identify important factors in relation tothe implementation of ICT in UK secondaryeducation. The author's
whole school approach
is characterised by considering ICT integration as a special case for implementing change.Central in this concentric model is the use of ICT in teaching. This practice is in
uenced by three
layers
: the whole school, the ICTimplementation process, and the individual.
Whole school
characteristics refer to strong school leadership, the school culture, the changeoriented nature of a school, the positive and proactive attitude towards external in
uences, and the school's internal processes. The
ICTimplementationprocess,
refers tothe carefully planned process through which ICT was implemented across the school, matters relating toICTresourcing, and mattersrelating to support and training.
Individual characteristics
include a positive attitude to ICTand belief in its useand the importance of ICT knowledge, understanding, and skills.Somewhat differently,Lim (2002)presents a theoretical framework based on activity theory. One of the central notions in this frame-work is that ICTcannot be studied in isolation, but must be studied within the broader context inwhich it is situated. Fromthis perspective,the focus should be on the events, activities, contents, and interpersonal processes taking place in the context where ICT is used. The authorproposestostudytheactivitysystemasaunitofanalysis(i.e.,theICT-basedlesson)surroundedbydifferentsuccessivelevels(i.e.,thecourseof study, school, education system, and society at large).In a recent study,Hew and Brush (2007)modelled the barriers and strategies that in
uence the integration of ICT for instructionalpurposesintothecurriculum.This
tentativemodel
containsdirectandindirectbarriersin
uencingICTintegration.Directbarriersinclude:(a) the teachers' attitudes and beliefs towards using ICT, (b) the teachers' knowledge and skills, (c) the institution (e.g. leadership, schoolplan, etc.) and (d) resources (e.g. availability and access to ICT, support, etc.). In this model, ICT integration is indirectly in
uenced by thesubject culture and assessment activities measuring student learning. Interesting in this model is that these authors also present strategiestoovercometheidenti
edbarriers:havingasharedvisiononlearningandteaching,overcomingthescarcityofresources,changingteacherattitudes and beliefs, and reconsidering assessment activities.AllofthemodelsoutlinedaboveareprimarilyconceptualmodelshighlightingICTintegrationfromaholisticpointofview.ICTisnotseenas an isolated phenomenon, but is situated within broader mediating contexts. The greatest weakness of these models is that they do notgive indications or guidelines to further empirically test the factors or conditions presented. While these models can be used for qualitativeresearch designs, such as case studies or in-depth interviews, they are inappropriate for quantitative research designs since measurementscales are not discussed. The present study aims to develop a conceptual framework that leads to the construction of measurement scales.More concretely, research goals are:
To further develop the e-capacityconceptual framework and to identify school level and teacher level conditions in
uencing the use of ICT as a lever for instructional change; to identify conditions in the e-capacity model derived from recent insights in the schoolimprovement and ICT integration literature.
Totranslatethe identi
edsupporting schoollevel andteacherlevel conditionsintoitems andtoconstructreliablescales measuringtheconditions from the e-capacity framework.
3. Conditions in the e-capacity model
E-capacity refers to the schools' ability to create and optimise sustainable school level and teacher level conditions that can bring abouteffective ICTchange. The identi
ed school and teacher level conditions are brought together in the e-capacity model. This model comprisesfour mediating concentric circles; school improvement conditions; ICT related school conditions; ICT related teacher conditions; andteachers' actual use of ICT, surrounding a twofold core element (seeFig.1). Since teachers play a pivotal role in implementing innovations,the present study will analyse all conditions from a teacher's point of view. This means that all conditions are considered as subjectiveteacher perceptions rather than as objective characteristics (see alsoGeijsel et al.,1999).The twofold core element of the e-capacity model refers to the transformative nature of ICT (Selwyn & Brown, 2000; Watson, 2006). Itstresses on the one hand the use of ICT as a lever for instructional change, and on the other hand the implementation of ICT curricula. Inother words, the heart of our model takes the new Flemish ICT curriculum (seesection 1) into account as the current frame of referencestressing the meaning of ICT as a lever for instructional change. In this respect, the twofold core element has one broader focus than theoften used and more narrow variables such as computer or ICT use. The heart of our model is concerned with in
uencesof ICTon teachingand learning processes (see alsoUnderwood & Dillon, 2004). As such, teachers' actual use of ICT was added as an extra layer in the modelinstead of placing it in the centre. Contrary to many other studies, teachers' use of ICT is not seen as a dependent variable. In our model,teachers' actual use of ICT is a process or independent variable leading to different outcomes.Before discussing the different conditions or layers of the e-capacity model, it is important to stress that this model is situated withina broader societal and political context of national ICT policies and curriculum standards.Kozma (2003)argues that classroom practicesare in
uenced by state or national policies in areas such as curriculum and assessment, professional development, and telecommuni-cations. National ICT policies provide schools with resources, such as equipment, network infrastructure, or ICT teachers' professionaldevelopment (Owston, 2007). The
rationales
behind national ICT polices are also important to take into account.Selwyn and Brown(2000)refer to individual employability and international competitiveness as important policy goals for nation states to promote ICTin education. International ICT policies and the in
uence of supranational organisations (e.g. the European Union, the United Nations, theOECD, the World Bank, etc.) are also becoming more important and exert in
uence on national and regional educational policies. TheLisbon European Council (March 2000) and the strategic policy framework for the information society (i2010) that was launched by theEuropean Commission in 2005, are important policies for European countries (see alsoVanderlinde et al., 2009). Another in
uentialinternational policy is the
ICTcompetency standards for teachers,
which was recently presented byUNESCO (2008). The objective of thispolicy is to provide guidelines in planning education and training for teachers and prepare them to play an essential role in producingtechnologically capable students. Other factors affecting the conditions presented in the e-capacity model concern the societalsubsystems (e.g. the economic system, the social system and cultural norms) that interact with the educational system in general and ICTpolicies in particular.
R. Vanderlinde, J. van Braak / Computers & Education 55 (2010) 541
e
553
543

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