Examining the Paradox of Low Level Teacher Technology Integration In Technology-Rich Schools

Cheska M. Lorena The College of Saint Rose EDU 590 – Dr. Washburn Spring 2010

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I. Introduction My interest in the research project topic teacher technology integration began in fall 2009. I was a visitor at a small suburban elementary school in the capital region of upstate New York, completing the first of my weekly observations of a suburban K-5 computer lab for a graduate instructional technology course I was taking at the time. I had recently completed student teaching at an urban elementary school in a large and diverse city in Nevada and I felt out of place. The smell of new carpeting, diffused soft light, and gleam of computer workstations positioned around the perimeters of the computer lab were unfamiliar sights. It was outfitted with the latest equipment, software, and hardware—a technology teacher’s dreams come true. I had heard great reviews about the elementary school and I was very eager to learn new technology practices to incorporate into my own teaching. Imagine my disappointment when I learned during my four-month span of observations that less than half of the staff used the computer lab, or checked out the mobile laptop and net-book carts. During the infrequent times when the lab was in use, computers were mainly employed for simple non-critical thinking activities such as drill and practice and word processing. One day I asked the technology specialist to identify other unused lab equipment. She referred to several sets of digital cameras, video recorders, and a virtual tour kit that the school district had purchased three years ago. I was amazed at the under-utilization of the computer lab equipment and the sheer number of wonderful learning opportunities that were unrealized. I began to compare this underutilization of technology tools at the suburban elementary school to the urban elementary school in which I student taught where the elementary school

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teachers fought over what little technology was available. I recalled my mentor teacher and how she taught a unit on human body systems with virtual frog dissections. Students were in collaborative teams, in which they worked together to complete the dissection and create multimedia presentations. At first glance, the elementary teachers seemed to have it all—the latest equipment, weekly training, additional online professional development on technology, and quick daily access to instructional technology (IT) support on school grounds. I found their lack of excitement and the lost potential of student enhanced learning perplexing. My experiences at this particular elementary school have led me to wonder if this was an isolated incident or a systemic occurrence. Current educational reform underscores student-centered instruction and the use of instructional technologies to support active student learning (Palak & Walls, 2009). The call for technology has led to nation-wide investments in new technological equipment to upgrade school districts’ inventories and to promote 1:1 instruction. The advent of the Internet and rapid development pace of new technology has also led to a cultural and social change in students’ lifestyles. Today’s students have become increasingly adept at utilizing technology to communicate, gather information, and extend their social experiences (Spires, Lee, & Turner, 2008.) Many students embrace interactive environments, gravitate towards group activity, and seek active involvement in their learning process. The way they access information and generate content suggests that they are creating understandings and knowledge no longer compatible with the former methods of teaching. The positive effects of educational technology have been documented in various evaluations and research studies since the 1980s. Many of these studies (Kulik, Bangert, &

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Williams, 1983; O'Dwyer, Russell, Bebell, & Seely, 2008) report that students enjoy classes and learn more when technology is integrated with classroom instruction. My observations of direct instruction and independent seatwork at the elementary school’s computer lab suggested that there was a large disconnect between the way students used technology at home and in school. In the educational system, it is the teachers who act as change agents for technology integration in schools (Ertmer, Gopalakrishnan, & Ross, 2001). Most teachers recognized the importance of using technology in their classrooms but used technology infrequently or in ways that did not support higher-level student learning. My curiosity led to reading literature (Lowther, Inan, Strahl, & Ross, 2008) that affirmed that what I had observed at the elementary school was in fact systemic, and that several key barriers to technology integration in technology-rich schools exist. I was curious as to why there has been little shift in teacher practice at this particular elementary school and other schools, despite available technology, technical and general support, and positive teacher attitudes towards technology. With this qualitative action research project, it was my intention to seek specific ways to increase teacher technology use and integration in technology-rich schools. I wanted to find out: Why are there low teacher technology integration rates in some technology-rich schools? What research-based strategies or practices can be used to encourage higher levels of teacher technology integration? How can these strategies be used? The sole purpose of my action research study was to inform and improve my work as a classroom teacher who wishes to incorporate technology with content area. Findings were used strictly for personal growth.

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II. Research Design Qualitative research methods will be used for this single case-study. Bogden and Biklen (2007) presented five characteristics of qualitative research that I utilized in my research. The case-study was naturalistic because as a researcher, I was concerned with context. To understand why some teachers from technology-rich schools were reluctant to use technology in their instruction, it was best that I considered the computer lab environment, as well as the actions and behaviors of the teachers. The study was descriptive because data collection relied on a reflective journal, surveys and field observation notes. The descriptive data permitted me to focus on the process and consider every detail, allowing for richer interpretation (Punch, 2009). Through this inductive process, my investigative findings helped paint a larger, meaningful, and much more cohesive picture of the particular incident I experienced at the elementary school’s computer lab. The main purpose of the case study was to seek understanding as to why there were low rates of teacher technology integration in this specific technology-rich elementary school, and how I can use this new knowledge to inform and improve my own personal practice. Qualitative research was best suited for my action research project because I was interested in understanding the particulars of a specific phenomenon, or event. In this case, I was curious to know why there was a low rate of teacher technology integration by elementary teachers at the suburban technology-rich school I observed for my graduate instructional technology course. Additional reading has led me to believe that this case study seems to be systemic. By focusing on the event at the elementary school and using multiple data collection methods, I gained a better understanding as to why there were low teacher technology

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integration rates in technology-rich schools. Qualitative research methods, in addition, helped me to create a rich and detailed report out of my findings. Data for this single case-study was collected through three main forms: a reflective journal, surveys, and field observation notes. During my previous observations at the suburban elementary school, 16 teachers and over 120 students in Grades 4-5 were surveyed with a needs assessment questionnaire. I re-analyzed the results of the surveys and my field observation notes for common themes of teacher pedagogical beliefs, teacher attitudes, and examples of teacher technology practices. I also evaluated my own personal instructional technology experiences as a pre-service teacher using written reflections and anecdotes. Additional data were obtained through online surveys and informal interviews with other teachers from social networking platforms. The study focused on a small suburban elementary school in upstate New York, which was part of a two-building school district. The district itself was located in the middle of a small but very tight-knit community, where parent attendance and involvement was very high. The elementary student body ranged from kindergarten to fifth grade, and comprised over 500 students. There were approximately 40 full-time teachers, where a majority had been teaching for over 20 years. Each class had an average of 18 students with two to three teacher aides. The population was primarily Caucasian, English-speaking, and in which over 60% have received a bachelor’s degree or higher. Most families were of mid-to-high socioeconomic status. My action research project had great value to me because it helped me find out what was going on with the teachers at the elementary school’s computer lab. Why were the elementary teachers hesitant to use more technology, despite the facts that they recognized

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the benefits of instructional technology on their students and had many available resources at their disposal? My goal was to understand what was happening, to determine possible causes of the incident, and perhaps find new innovative ideas that may help address the problem. With the data I collected, I hoped to expand my professional knowledgebase related to teaching and learning with technology. III. Findings For the fall semester 2009, I spent six weeks in the suburban K-5 computer lab observing the interactions between the students, teachers, and technology specialist. It was during my observations that I began to search for answers to the following: 1) What is technology integration? 2) Why should teachers integrate technology in their classrooms? And 3) How can teachers learn how to integrate more technology into their instruction and curriculum? What is technology integration? In mid-semester 2009, I distributed separate surveys for teachers and students on their technology use in the classroom. The surveys consisted of 10-20 questions asking teachers and students to list their most frequently used technology tools and the type of academic technology-related work assigned. Personal opinions were also solicited regarding how current learning conditions can be best improved. The surveys were mass emailed three times to staff via the school email server, and a desktop icon was installed on all computer workstations in the computer lab for the students. A 4th grade teacher also posted a link to the questionnaire on his online class website. Only 16 out of 40 teachers responded, while 120 (mostly 4 th graders and 5th graders) students responded to the surveys. The gap in survey participation between the teachers and

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students was interesting, but the large disconnect between the teacher and student survey results were more astonishing. From the teacher findings, 50% of the teachers have taught between 15-20 years. In addition, 63% of the teachers rated their overall technology skills as intermediate. Close to 44% of the teachers reported receiving 1-5 hours of professional development on technology, while only 19% of the teachers reported receiving over 10 hours of professional development on technology. The most commonly used technology tools in the classroom were the interactive whiteboard, teacher-run computer workstations, and lab computer workstations. The most common student technology-related activities assigned were word processing, online research, and the use of drill and practice software. From the student findings, 100% of students had daily access to the Internet via home computers, laptops, cell phones and hand-held game devices. When they were in school, however, their access to the Internet was limited to teacher-assigned work in the computer lab. Over 75% of the students rated their overall technology skills as expert. The most common activities students used their personal devices for were playing online games, watching videos, socializing with family and friends, and listening to music. In contrast, when asked to list classroom technology-related activities, students listed word processing, individual research, and keyboarding. Out of the results, several patterns began to emerge. The suburban elementary teachers thought that examples of teacher technology integration included using technology tools like interactive whiteboards or mobile carts twice a week. They also believed that sending their students to the computer lab to practice their keyboarding, play drill and practice online games or use the word processor to type up writing assignments were modern uses of incorporating

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technology into their daily instruction. Students, on the other hand, wanted to use the computers and other technology equipment on a daily basis. They also thought their teachers’ technology practices were boring and outdated. During group interviews, the students were asked to name a few activities they would like to see more of in their classrooms and computer lab. Several statements included: “More challenging games! More fun activities!” - 4th Grader “I would like to learn how to make digital stories instead of playing games.” - 4th Grader “I’d like to do videos, like, make videos ourselves.” - 5th Grader “I would like more opportunities to create PPT presentations where I get to choose the topic.” - 5th Grader Students’ responses showed that they clamored for interactive activities that used the interactive whiteboard, laptops, digital cameras, and other technology tools in innovative and creative ways. Because they were exposed to technology in their everyday lives, they had more self-confidence with their technology skills. They wanted more autonomy, more challenges, and more opportunities to create, work together, and interact with the content in their learning process. While the suburban elementary school was outfitted with the latest technologies and had the support of on-site technology specialists, it was clear that the staff did not have a full understanding of what technology integration was. That idea was driven home when an older female teacher approached me during free period. She commented, “I know I’m supposed to be doing all of this [technology], but I just don’t know what it is! I hope you don’t think that I am a terrible teacher!” Her embarrassment was tangible and emphasized another pattern I was

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beginning to see: the staff refrained from exploring new uses of technology in the classroom due to a lack of understanding of what technology integration was and the fear of looking foolish or unknowledgeable in front of their students and peers. As it turned out, the students had it all along. Intuitively, they knew that technology integration was about using the tools in ways that reflected their own technology use in their everyday lives. At home, students used technology daily for entertainment, to socialize, connect and create. In school, however, technology use was limited and delegated to individual seatwork and practice. When I described the situation to a fellow math teacher and technology specialist, he commented: “*Technology integration+ doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be digital, but you need to use the tools and practices that help you learn and keep up to date with 21st century learning settings.” The suburban elementary teachers were aware that they should use technology in more engaging ways, but did not know how to properly integrate it in their instruction. Their fear of looking foolish in front of others prevented them from exploring new possibilities. As a result, many of the available technology tools like the digital cameras and virtual tour-kit remained untouched at the technology-rich suburban K-5 computer lab. Why should teachers integrate technology in their classrooms? The short time I spent at the suburban K-5 computer lab sparked my curiosity and fueled a hunger to find out more about technology integration in technology-rich schools. Questions reverberated in my mind: What does a 21st century learning setting look like? How does technology integration fit in this setting? It was not enough to know what technology integration was. Like most typical students, I also had to know why. While my fall observations

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at the K-5 computer lab were completed, I continued to keep in touch with the technology specialist. In spring 2010, I was invited back to the suburban elementary school to observe the teachers and students for a day. The fifth grade department had suspended all other subjects for a week-long geography and social studies web-quest. The change in the school environment was remarkable. In 3 to 4 short months, 4-5th grade teachers went from direct instruction to student-centered technology use. The fifth grade class comprised 90 students and was divided into small collaborative groups based on their choice of topic. They were instructed to create a PowerPoint, a photo story, or a webpage to present their work. On the last day, the whole class held an assembly where the groups presented their culminating assessment in a symposium format to their teachers and peers. As I rotated among groups and classrooms, the students’ excitement was infectious. When asked about what they thought and how they felt about the multimedia project, students responded: “We’ve never done something like this before. It’s strange, but loads of fun!” - 5th Grader “…what I like most about the project is that we get to work together.” - 5th Grader “I’m excited to present because we get to use a microphone and talk about our work!” - 5th Grader “We don’t use technology every day, more like every other week. I love computers and I wish we did projects like this more often.” - 5th Grader

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The students’ responses made it clear why it was important to integrate technology in the classroom. They had clear and articulate responses when I probed about the purposes of their project, and asked for short explanations about who was doing what, how their work was evaluated, and what they have learned about their topic. The students were actively engaged in their learning. They were excited to work with each other, and when I made my last rounds they were all hard at work giving each other honest and constructive feedback via peer rubrics. The biggest change I have seen was that the students wanted to create and show off their work. This was a huge difference, considering that I frequently received a shrug or an “I don’t know” when I asked the same students about their work in the suburban K-5 computer lab a few months before. The 5th grade teachers had listened to their students. They provided the students with a challenging opportunity to use technology to express their understanding of what they have learned in social studies class through images, sound, and text. With the multimedia project, the 5th grade teachers showed that they were learning how to slowly integrate more technology in their classrooms. As a result of their efforts, their students became more empowered, actively engaged, and motivated in class. I was looking at a 21st century learning environment. How can teachers learn how to integrate technology in their classrooms? The week-long multimedia geography and social studies was not the only change I noticed when I returned to the suburban K-5 computer lab in spring. The technology specialist’s webpage and employees’ technology website were updated. The technology specialist had shifted to Google Sites, and one of the literacy teachers were setting up a wiki-space online in

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the lab. The employees’ technology website now featured podcasts, web reviews on Web 2.0 tools, and a teacher’s PPT tutorial on Google web design. Most surprisingly, teachers were also encouraged to teach technology sessions! To a passerby, the changes might seem trivial. In fact, they might not even have registered on the radar. However, as an outsider who had observed the suburban K-5 computer lab for an entire semester, I knew it was a meaningful moment because none of these features existed four months ago. My quest to understanding technology integration in technology-rich schools has led to me to my next questions: What effective strategies can be used to encourage higher levels of teacher technology integration? How can these strategies be used? I began to develop an online professional learning network (PLN) by connecting with other educators through the Twitter social networking site from winter 2009 to spring 2010. I interviewed 4 technology specialists and technology coordinators employed in technology-rich schools from different states on how to encourage school faculty to become more familiar with technology integration. I also collected tips from other teachers around the country who had sought information and taught themselves how to use various technology tools on their own. Through the interviews, two common threads arose. All interviewees agreed that many teachers resist technology integration because they fear that it will “change what they do” and that they have to “re-learn new systems”. To increase teacher technology use and integration, it is important that the technology tools and practices that are being introduced are noninvasive. “Don’t try to change their current teaching strategies and behavior. Try to find solutions that works with the way they [the teachers] and the system works,” remarked one technology specialist. “They don’t want to change the things that they are doing that are

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already fundamental and work well,” he added. Most teachers want efficiency and having to learn how to use new technologies take away from that. Most teachers also fear adding technology to their repertoire implies that they are not teaching enough, or performing well in the classroom. On the contrary, technology integration in the classroom was meant to act as a supplemental tool to aid in instruction and further enhance the learning experience. The second thread was the idea that teachers were students too. All four interviewees agreed that when introducing new technologies, teachers should be treated the same way as students when introducing and teaching new content. “Be careful with your tone when talking to teachers about technology. They don’t want to be talked down to,” advised one technology coordinator. Another technology specialist commented, “Even when you think you’re going slowly, you’re not going slow enough! Remember that they’re *the teachers+ learning this for the first time.” Like teachers, technology specialists must build relationships with teachers, become familiar with their learning styles and preferences, and differentiate technology training. They also must have patience and the ability to model and scaffold the content. In order to encourage higher levels of teacher technology integration, it is important that teachers feel confident that they too can learn and apply their newly acquired technology skills in their classrooms. I decided to put my PLN’s advice to the test by performing an impromptu technology workshop in one of my graduate courses, Advanced Instructional Design, in mid-April 2010. I specifically chose to introduce Prezi and Wallwisher because they were free Web 2.0 tools that were user-friendly and could be used in a variety of content areas and by students of different ages. I began the workshop by showing an example of how I used Prezi and Wallwisher in my

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science classroom. I followed the example with a friend’s Google slideshow on 19 different ways the two Web 2.0 tools can be applied in the classroom. I then proceeded into a quick tutorial, in which I modeled how to set up free teacher accounts, find the video tutorials and help manuals, and create sample products. While demonstrating how to embed a video on Prezi, I shared a YouTube video called “A Vision of K-12 Students Today”. It was a short clip that emphasized 21st century learning and the need for teachers to step up their technology integration so they could support their digital learners. The professor was so moved by the video that she changed our final project from 3 individually-written differentiated lesson plans to 2 small collaborative group projects. She remarked: “Here we are learning about advanced instructional design and how we should differentiate our lesson plans for our students, but we haven’t touched on technology integration at all. I feel horrible, but I’m going to take this opportunity to practice what we teach. I’m going to change your final project.” My classmates and I were instructed to create 2 differentiated lesson plans that highlighted technology integration. We were to present and perform a quick tutorial on the technology tools we used in one of our differentiated lesson plans during the last week of the semester. The teacher response to my impromptu workshop and the professor’s syllabus change were incredible. My classmates went from tired to enthusiastic. They commented: “I’m so glad you did this, Cheska. It was so easy to follow. I can’t wait to try Prezi with my students!” – Elementary teacher “My head is spilling over with ideas on how to use those tools in my classroom…” – Middle school teacher

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“I can’t wait to show this *Prezi+ to the other teachers at my school!” – High school teacher Their comments continued for the next two weeks. A few of my classmates have begun using Prezi for student projects in their classrooms. Others used it for their own presentations in other graduate courses. One of my peers exclaimed: “Cheska, I just wanted to tell you that I shared Prezi with the teachers at my school and they loved it!” She continued,” I haven’t seen them that excited over technology!” By following my PLN’s advice to take the time and show what technology integration is and how it looks like in a 21 st century classroom, I was able to encourage and motivate 25 teachers from 10+ school districts to use more technology in their own classrooms. The teachers were motivated by what they learned from my impromptu technology workshop and were eager to share what they learned with their colleagues. By sharing their excitement and newfound knowledge of technology integration, they were able to increase their own use of technology in their classrooms as well as within their school community. When the professor revised our final project, she took a teachable moment and expanded it into an opportunity that allowed my peers to research their own technology tools and begin creating their own professional learning networks. With a better understanding of technology integration, those 25 teachers began their journey teaching with technology in a 21st century learning environment. IV. Literature Review The call for technology use in the classroom has received much attention in recent years due to tougher standards and benchmarks, required state and national testing, changing

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student populations and profiles, and accountability reports on improved achievement for all learners. The rapid pace of technological, economical, informational and political changes in society, paired with the ubiquitous nature of technology use by today’s students, require that schools re-examine the way student academic needs are being met in the classroom. Students have become increasingly dependent on technology to communicate, gather information, and extend their social experiences (Spires, Lee, & Turner, 2008). The change in students’ lifestyle and their requests for increased use of technology in school for learning requires that the educational system evolve to meet these new demands. ISTE (2007) indicates that to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly digital world, students should know and be able to use technology for creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, critical thinking, problemsolving, decision-making, digital citizenship, and technology operations and concepts. In my study, the joy and excitement were reflected from the student responses during the week-long geography and social studies web-quest. The fourth and fifth graders were engaged with the web-quest because they were given autonomy and opportunities to produce meaningful work in order to gain a better understanding of what they were learning in class. The challenging use of the web-quest exposed the students to more technology, which aligned with their daily use of technology and their own technology skills. In a 21st century education system, technology must be used comprehensively and purposefully for supporting how students learn with innovative teaching and learning practices. To meet the demands of their digital students, it is important that teachers learn to use and maximize the impact of technology in the classroom. Using technologies such as

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videoconferencing, online learning and networking can support professional development and professional learning communities (SETDA, 2007). The professional learning communities help teachers to learn and collaborate with peers, mentors, and experts, and expand their knowledge and experience bases with technology integration. Technology Integration and Key Barriers Because technology is considered as a major component of school reform, schools have invested in technology equipment and teacher professional development to help integrate technology in the classroom. The suburban elementary school from my study was an example of such schools that made large technology investments. Despite abundant technology and support, the technology-rich elementary school had low levels of teacher technology integration. Lowther et al. (2008) listed key barriers to technology integration as: 1) availability and access to computers; 2) availability of curriculum materials; 3) teachers’ beliefs; 4) teachers’ technological and content knowledge and; 5) technical, administrative, and peer support. Effective technology integration starts with access to technology, but also requires teachers’ shift to student centered teaching methods and a supportive school culture that values meaningful technology-assisted learning. The focus of my research was a suburban elementary school computer lab. In this K-5 computer lab, there was an interactive whiteboard, over 25 computer workstations, two largecapacity inkjet color printers, three mobile carts containing 22-24 laptops, and one mobile cart containing 30 net-books. Other equipment include a flatbed scanner, one DVD video camera, one virtual tour kit, and 6-8 digital cameras locked in a cabinet. In addition, the technology specialist hosted weekly Tech Monday workshops. There were free professional development

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technology classes offered online, and the school technology website layout was recently renovated to include podcasts, video tutorials, reviews of Web 2.0 tools, and resource links. Even with high access to technology, the suburban teachers and their students were occasional to rare users of the available technology tools in the computer lab for instruction. When the teachers did use the technology tools, their changes maintained teacher-directed instruction rather than alter their existing classroom practices toward student-directed instruction. In contrast, the urban middle school’s computer lab had 18 computer workstations, one medium-capacity black and white inkjet printer, and one mobile cart containing 24 laptops. There was 1 technology specialist, who was available 3 out of 5 school days. There were no technology professional development courses offered, and no employee technology website to refer to for assistance. Despite the low access to technology, many of the urban middle school teachers were able to teach themselves by staying after school to experiment with the technology tools and help each other troubleshoot problems. Ertmer et al. (2001) defined exemplary technology-using teachers as those who had a “no-nonsense approach to common integration barriers.” The urban elementary school teachers did what they could with limited technology and access and were successful in their use of technology integration in the classroom. Exemplary technology-using teachers were not deterred by lack of resources, knowledge or time (Ertmer et al., 2001). It was not that the urban elementary school teachers did not encounter barriers to technology integration; in fact, they encountered all five key barriers listed previously. However, the urban middle school teachers managed to find ways to obtain needed resources and worked around constraints. The difference between the

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elementary and middle schools’ access to and technology use indicated that there must be unseen barriers that prevented the suburban elementary school teachers from fully integrating technology in their classrooms. Intrinsic Barriers to Technology Integration Ertmer et al. (2006) identified two categories of barriers that limit teacher technology integration: extrinsic barriers and intrinsic barriers. Examples of extrinsic barriers include access, time, and support, while examples of intrinsic barriers include beliefs, practices, and willingness to change. According to Ertmer et al. (2006), in order for successful technology integration to exist, the following conditions must be in place: changing teacher beliefs; sufficient and accessible equipment; placement of classrooms versus labs; long-term planning, technical and instructional support; and technology integrated within the curricular framework. The suburban teachers in my study had access to abundant technology equipment. Their technology plan emphasized professional development and the integration of technology, and there were weekly Tech Monday workshops hosted by the technology specialist. Even when key barriers were removed, technology tools were used for low-level learning in teacher-centered environments in the technology-rich suburban elementary school. Ertmer et al. (2001) noted that the most common factor between exemplary technology-using teachers was “the belief that technology provided a valuable tool for achieving their visions of teaching and learning”. The collected data from my study showed that intrinsic barriers, and not extrinsic barriers, prevented the suburban elementary school teachers from fully realizing the power of technology integration in the classroom.

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Teachers in technology-rich schools continued to use technology in ways that supported their already existing teaching approach (Palak & Walls, 2009). The 3 most common technology-related activities assigned by the suburban elementary school teachers in my research were word processing, keyboarding, and online research. Their use of technology emphasized individual instruction, independent learning and technology use as a reward. Content was the primary focus of the teachers with low level technology use in technology-rich schools (Ertmer et al., 2001). By focusing on content, the suburban elementary school teachers failed to see that technology integration was about being able to look at technology and understand that it was not separate from content. It was not an extra or an add-on; technology integration was a part of daily classroom practice. Effective technology integration enhanced what teachers were already doing, and helped them to go beyond current classroom work. The urban middle school teachers I had observed had student-centered beliefs and viewed curriculum as “a process that helped students become lifelong learners”. These teachers’ use of technology was a regular part of their curriculum and was incorporated in their day-to-day practice. Out of the 14 teachers polled from the suburban elementary school of my study, only 2 male teachers had their own classroom website. When their students were interviewed and asked to list recent examples of how the 2 male suburban elementary teachers used technology in the classroom, they responded: “We just finished a web-quest on the Erie Canal in Mr. M’s class.” – 4th Grader “We have to get our homework and participate on online polls from the class website.” – 4th Grader

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“We had to do Google searches, compare websites, and explain why or why not they were good to use for reports.” - 5th Grader “We used Kidspiration to make concept maps for our biographies.” – 5th Grader Technology-using teachers range along a continuum of instructional styles from instruction to construction (Ertmer et al., 2001). Teachers at the instruction end focused on content, while teachers at the construction end focused on process. By pairing process-oriented teaching methods with technology use, constructivist teachers like the two male suburban elementary school teachers helped their students gain problem-solving, critical-thinking, or lifelonglearning skills. Other suburban elementary school teachers who wished to learn how to integrate more technology in their classrooms might benefit from examining their existing teaching pedagogy, how it affects their instruction, and how it aligns with their goals of technology integration. Teaching Strategies Teachers may be unable to integrate technology to support student-centered practices because they lack models of technology to facilitate this type of learning (Palak & Walls, 2009). Focusing on problem-based learning, project-based learning, and constructivism can help the suburban elementary school teachers to implement more student-centered technologyassisted instruction. Moursund (2003) considers the benefits of problem and project based learning from the students’ point of view: 1) learner-centered and intrinsically motivating; 2) encourage collaboration and cooperative learning; 3) allows students to make incremental and continual improvement in their products, presentations, or performances; 4) is designed so that students are actively engaged in doing things rather than in learning about something; 5)

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requires students to produce a product, presentation, or performance and; 6) is challenging, with a focus on higher-order skills. Moursund’s (2003) description of problem and projectbased learning echoes the students’ survey results in my study in which they call for more opportunities to interact with one another and with the content they are learning in class. The students wanted less word processing, keyboarding, and online research, and more creative activities that allowed them to produce digital stories, animations, videos, and PPT presentations on topics of their own choice. Professional development with a focus on the integration of technology for studentcentered practices also appears to have a positive effect on shifting beliefs and practices. Teacher training should move away from isolated technology training (use of tools) and toward integration of technology into curriculum to help teachers use technology to support studentcentered pedagogy (Palak & Walls, 2009). In my research, when the suburban elementary school teachers were asked to list examples of technology integration in their classroom, they listed equipment instead of how the equipment was being used by their students to demonstrate what they have learned in class. Woodbridge (2004) claimed that true technology integration involves students constructing their own learning while using technology tools and allows for student-centered approaches for both teacher and students. The list of examples the suburban elementary school teachers revealed a lack of understanding as to what technology integration is. Their lack of knowledge prevented them from fully utilizing the abundant technology tools in the computer lab and engaging their students in student-centered activities. To increase the number of exemplary technology-using teachers in technology-rich schools, technology specialists, trainers and administration can help faculty to build

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collaborative learning communities. Ertmer et al. (2001) indicated that teachers preferred to participate in workshops, seminars, and conferences that differentiated and customized technology training instead of attending group training with a technology coordinator. Several technology specialists interviewed from my study emphasized that teachers are learners too. Their preference to learn in customized informal settings echoed their students’ wish to be involved in collaborative activities in the classroom. Cuban, Kirkpatrick, & Peck (2001) stated that generic training usually available for teacher technology professional development were often irrelevant to teachers’ specific needs. In customized and informal training workshops, teachers can benefit from observing how colleagues have implemented their student-centered technology-assisted teaching methods within realistic environments. In my study, I was able to model technology use in an informal collaborative environment and inspire 25 other teachers to learn more about different technology tools. By creating collaborative learning environments, knowing how others have eliminated or worked around technology barriers may help teachers to find ways to increase their own technology integration in the classroom. After reading, analyzing, and evaluating survey results, interview transcripts, my personal experiences with professional learning networks, and reviews of the literature, I have come to several conclusions. First, money and available resources cannot be used as definite factors to determine why there are high or low levels of teacher technology integration at any school. Successful teacher technology integration occur both in schools with abundant technology or in schools with inadequate resources. To determine the level of teacher technology integration in a school, questions should focus on teacher beliefs instead of access. Teachers are more likely to use technology in ways that support their existing beliefs; that is,

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teacher-centered instruction enforces individual student use of technology, while studentcentered instruction centers on collaborative learning with the help of technology. There are three main reasons why teachers might have low levels of technology integration: 1) they do not know what technology integration is, or it is not covered in professional development so they ignore it; 2) they have an idea what technology integration is and want to try it out, but they are afraid they may look foolish if they fail so they stay away and 3) they believe using more technology might imply they are not doing their job well enough. Whatever the reason, it is clear that teachers must face their fears of the unknown through edification. With the help of my professional learning network and the results from my study, I was able to compile effective strategies and tips to encourage individual teachers who want to face their fears of technology integration and become more familiar and confident with their use of technology in their classrooms. V. Implications Better understanding a problem can lead to better communication between all parties involved. Teacher technology integration would not be a daunting task for many teachers as long as they have a clear understanding of what it is, why it should be used, and how they can learn to use it in their classrooms. Based on the interviews and tips collected, I recommend the following: 1. Create a clear vision of what an ideal classroom with integrated technology looks like. Individual teachers can design their own technology growth development plans by outlining their expectations for the school year. Take out the school’s mission statement, standards, and learning objectives. How does the technology fit in? Align learning objectives with the

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appropriate tools, and list 1-2 new tools you would like to use in the classroom. Set small measurable goals. Focus on one goal at a time. Schedule a time during the week to practice with the tools. 2. Build an on-campus professional learning network. Make friends with the technology department. Individual teachers can form small study groups with colleagues to sign up for professional development courses and attend conferences together, swap literature, and share ideas for lesson plans, and resources. Visit and observe each other’s classrooms. Encourage one another to host informal workshops, demonstrations, or tutoring sessions during breaks, after school, or during in-service days. 3. Build an online professional learning network. Learn how to set up a Twitter account or a profile on one of the social networking platforms. Connect with other educators around the globe and join education-related groups. When you feel more comfortable, expand your network to include artists, scientists, authors, etc. Make a commitment to spend a few minutes a day, or a half hour on weekends, to browse through the current articles, materials, and links shared via your network. When you feel more comfortable reading the resources on your social networks, don’t just lurk! Try your hand at leaving 1-2 comments on a blog or in a group discussion. Share your own resources. Ask questions. 4. Invest in yourself. Read, read, and read! Subscribe to technology journals and publications. Open an aggregator account like Google Reader and subscribe to educational blogs, online magazines, and newsletters. Search for online tutorials and videos. Use open content sources. Follow along with free university online classes. Attend free webinars and free virtual conferences whenever you can.

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5. Expand your learning network to the classroom. Harness your students’ creativity and ingenuity. Involve your students in your learning by asking them how they best learn with technology, how they network with their peers outside the classroom, and what technology tools they are using for their hobbies. Allow them to be your technology tutors by encouraging them to share their tips and tricks. Set up monthly technology show-and-tells in the classroom. Ask students to do a tutorial for you. Search for video, podcasts, and other tutorials together and create a class technology knowledge-base on a class website, social bookmarking site, or wiki-space. 6. Publish, publicize, and advertise your students’ technology-related work. Create a classroom website or a wiki-space to share ideas, tutorials, and class projects. Share the links with parents, administration, and faculty. Invite them to your classroom to see what the students are doing and learning. Distribute a monthly newsletter, create a photo album, or put together a digital portfolio to share what you have done to integrate technology in your classroom. Share these with parents, your colleagues, administration, and your professional learning networks. Ask for constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement. 7. Develop a continuous reflective practice with your integration of technology in the classroom. Keep a small notebook to jot down initial thoughts and impressions. Follow up your implementation of technology tools in a lesson plan or activity with a reflection on its strengths, weaknesses, successes and things that can be further improved. Remember to include samples of formative and summative student assessments. Write in your favorite or most striking student responses and quotes. Write about your personal journey into technology integration. Reflect on your technology growth development plan. Consider signing up for an online blog

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and linking it to your professional learning networks. Encourage discussions with your colleagues and networks. My action research project enabled me to gain a better understanding of how to work more effectively with teachers, technology specialists, and administrators in the computer lab setting. In addition, my research encouraged teacher empowerment by providing me and other teachers with effective strategies that helped us become more comfortable and confident with the idea of teaching with technology. By using the valuable insights of my study, my peers and I have begun to improve our teaching through familiarization with new technology tools and addressing the misconceptions that lead to failure of computer-supported teaching. Once teachers in technology-rich schools eliminate their fears of technology, they can recognize that computers and other technologies are simply one of the many cognitive tools that they provide on a daily basis to motivate and challenge their students. Since my study, I have begun sharing the results as a volunteer at the suburban elementary school and technology mentor for several of my older colleagues. As I learn more about technology integration from my professional learning networks and from teaching others, I continue to gather and share more effective strategies on teacher technology integration with my peers. It is my hope through my research and active teacher-leadership that more teachers will see how technology can be a useful tool in aiding higher-order student learning. I hope it encourages them to seek more new exciting ways to teach with technology, encourage other teachers, and thus increase teacher technology use and integration within their schools.

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VI. References Bogden, R.C., & Biklen, S.K. (2007). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. Boston, MA: Pearson Publications. Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: Explaining an apparent paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 813-834. Ertmer, P.A., Gopalakrishnan, S., & Ross, E.M. (2001). Technology using teachers: Comparing perceptions of exemplary technology use to best practice. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(5). Ertmer, P.A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A., & York, C.S. (2006). Exemplary technology use: Teachers’ perceptions of critical factors. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 23(2), 55-61. Hernandez-Ramos, P. (2005). If not here, where? Understanding teachers’ use of technology in Silicon Valley schools. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(1). ISTE, (2007). National educational technology standards for students: The next generation. Retrieved from ards/NETS_for_Students_2007_Standards.pdf Kay, R.H. (2006). Evaluating strategies used to incorporate technology into preservice education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(4). Kulik, J.A., Bangert, R.L., & Williams, G.W. (1983). Effects of computer-based teaching on secondary school students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 75(1), 19-26.

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Lee, J., & Spires, H. (2009). What students think about technology and academic engagement in school: Implications for middle grades teaching and learning. AACEJ, 17(2), 61-81. Lowther, D.L., Inan, F.A., Strahl, J.D., & Ross, S.M. (2008). Does technology integration “work” when key barriers are removed? Educational Media International, 45(3), 195-213. doi: 10.1080/09523980802284317 Moursund, D. (2003). Project-based learning: Using information technology. Washington, D.C.: International Society for Technology in Education. O'Dwyer, L.M., Russell, M., Bebell, D., & Seely, K. (2008). Examining the relationship between students' mathematics test scores and computer use at home and at school. The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 6(5). Palak, D. & Walls, R.T. (2009). Teachers’ beliefs and technology practices: A mixed-methods approach. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 417-441. Punch, K.F. (2009). Qualitative research design, Introduction to Research Methods in Education (p. 112-118). Los Angeles: Sage Publications Inc. SETDA, (2007). Maximizing the impact: The pivotal role of technology in a 21 st century education system. Washington, D.C: International Society for Technology in Education. Spires, H.A., Lee, J.K., & Turner, K.A. (2008). Having our say: Middle grade student perspectives on school, technologies, and academic engagement. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(4), 497-515. Woodbridge, N.J. (2004, March 01). Technology integration as a transforming teaching strategy. Retrieved from

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