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Towards a Pedagogically Diverse Model for Technology

Integration in Language Teaching and Learning


Michael Pazinas (Unpublished)

Part of Doctor of Philosophy in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning
Lancaster University

© Michael Pazinas 2015. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce or copy without prior permission from the author
About Michael Pazínas
Michael Pazinas is a postgraduate researcher in technology
enhanced learning (TEL) and e-research with a particular
interest in language learning. He is also a TEL consultant,
instructional designer, interactive content designer and
educational professional development trainer and has
served as the Lead Apple Education Trainer for the Middle
East, training teachers in K-12 through to faculty in Higher
Education. He has created enhanced electronic content for
the British Council and several educational institutions in the Middle East and the UK and has
authored TEL teaching content for Cambridge University Press. He was the lead developer and
Curriculum and Learning Technologies Coordinator for an innovative, adapted challenge based
language project at the United Arab Emirates University. In the past, he has taught English to
Preschoolers through to doctoral level students and was a Cambridge Oral Examiner.

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“People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is
what what they do does”

- Michael
Michel Foucault


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Abstract 4
Introduction 5
Literature 6
Rationale 6
Methodology 6
Issues of Techno-centric Notions of Learning and Technology 7
Current Technology Integration Models 9
Professional Development in Technological Integration through Communities of Practice 13
Epistemological and Ontological Considerations 16
Discussion of Findings: Towards a more inclusive model 17
Implications 19
References 20

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The technologically deterministic paradigm which dominates both formal and informal literature
(the latter often informing practitioners more) has brought with it ideas about pedagogy which do
not always fit with the way languages are learned or taught. In fact, the act of teaching itself is
often considered a poor approach with teachers often encouraged to become more passive
facilitators. Through its investigation of literature, this desk study argues for a paradigm shift in
technology integration models veering away from considering technology as the dominant factor,
and developing an adapted Communities of Practice (CoP) framework which is not only accepting
of a greater degree of pedagogical tasks but also realises the complexities of different contexts.

Keywords: technology integration language teaching communities of practice

professional development technological determinism TPACK 

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Technology integration models are often derived from a paradigm whereby technology is
adopted without being critically evaluated regarding its use (Bax, 2011; Oliver, 2011;
Selwyn, 2010). This pattern often presented in much of the formal (and informal) literature
is based on an overemphasis on the causality of technology on pedagogy (Higgins, Xiao,
& Katsipaki, 2012). In some cases, technology is considered a sole agent (Bax, 2011) that
is automatically evaluated in an objective manner in isolation from other factors like
culture, motivation, power and politics. That is not to say that technology is presented as
the only effect but that much of the current literature is overtly techno-centric. It
accentuates technology as an authoritative agent, oversimplifying perspectives regarding
the relationship between technology and society (Pannabecker, 1991). Additionally, this
literature carries a danger of applying an idealistic ‘one-size-fits all’ pedagogy based in
minimal guided learning which — as this paper will argue — may not always be desirable
in language learning.

Thus, this study is driven not just by simply accepting and making assumptions about
technology integration in language teaching communities, but rather in questioning and
challenging the status quo with the main aim of working towards a practical but critical
model for working with technology. The main objective of such a model would then be to
work towards a foundation for an evolving, ‘learning curriculum’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991) for
professional development (PD) in a Community of Practice (CoP) in order to make
informed decisions about technology in language teaching contexts.

With this in mind, and within the scope of this desk study, which examines academic
literature in order to work towards developing new frameworks, the aim is to answer the
following research question:

How far is it possible to develop a critical technology integration model which is more
pedagogically (and by default epistemologically) diverse and is more representative of the
language teaching and learning community?

This makes the assumption that CoPs are an effective way of learning and developing
professional practice amongst language teachers. Additionally, the very notion of whether
CoPs could be adapted is a sub-question which is also investigated.

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The literature has been selected in an attempt to:

1. gain a deeper understanding into techno-centric notions of technology in learning and

then more specifically, language teaching and learning;

2. investigate why current technology integration models, derived from these paradigms,
fail to fully address the PD needs of language teaching communities;

3. understand if CoPs can contribute towards a viable model for working with
technology amongst members of language teaching communities.

In qualitative primary research it is customary to expose biases prior to conducting the
research and show how they have been affected by the review (Randolf, 2009). Thus it
should be stipulated that the original research examined academic literature with the aim
of deconstructing technological integration models; however, in the process, the issue of
an overarching techno-centric paradigm materialised when considering the misalignment
between models and language learning contexts. With this in mind, the inclusion and
exclusion criteria (Randolf, 2009) for data collection were as follows:

Inclusion Exclusion

Literature on technology integration based on data

exclusively from peer review journals to uphold
academic rigour.
Educational technology use prior to 2010 in order
Literature directly related to language teaching and
to focus on current usage (i.e. tablet / mobile
learning practices.
technology and the rise of minimal guided learning
Literature related to practical frameworks in via these devices).
professional development which the researcher felt
were relevant to his own professional context of
language learning in higher education (i.e., CoPs).

These criteria were not applied with the case of the SAMR technology integration model
(Puentedura, 2013a) mentioned in this paper for reasons which are explained further on.

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Issues of Techno-centric Notions of Learning and Technology

One major issue in research on technology and learning is that technological determinism
is widespread in both formal and informal literature (see commentary by Bax, 2011; Oliver,
2011; Pannabecker, 1991). Technological determinism is the belief that technology has a
substantial impact on society (as opposed to society having an impact on technology) not
least of which is a concern that it can even direct pedagogy in education. Selwyn (2011a)
claims that this ‘cause and effect’ view of technology leaves little room for other social
agents in the way technology is used in education. Fullan and Donnelly (2013) agree that
this view is both ‘simplistic and inflexible’ which is also compounded by their
observations that ‘both pedagogy and implementation/system criteria [are the] weakest
part of the triangle of technology, pedagogy and system support’1; something that is
addressed by the TPACK technology integration model (Koehler, Mishra, & Cain, 2013)
later in this paper.

Yet historical data in research has shown (Wellington, 2005), that regardless of
technological innovations, no direct correlation of technology use in educational settings
has shown improvement of student performance; a more recent account can be seen in
Higgins et al.’s (2012) summary for the Educational Endowment Foundation (also see
Hwang & Wu, 2014; Selwyn, 2011a). It is therefore no surprise that Hayes (2012) heeds
attention to the limitations but also the opportunities of contexts where innovations are
implemented and the socio-cultural aspects which may inform decisions concerning best
practices in language learning. Technology integration cannot be seen as an intervention
in its own right but rather as part of an intricate, complex web of variables affecting
language teaching and learning. These intimately connected variables make it difficult to
isolate technology as the determining factor in studies concerned with efficacy and
student performance.

However, despite this, some ELT (English Language Teaching) academics continue to
proselytise the inherent characteristics of modern technology, like tablets, claiming that
their use ‘cannot be overly planned or scripted’ because ‘by their nature tablets lead to
creativity’, even maintaining that just simply taking the devices home will extend language

1 An example of this may be that the design focus of some educational app designers may be on innovating the digital
instead of focusing on pedagogy.

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learning opportunities (Bannister & Wilden, 2013). This paradigm is evident through
organisations like UNESCO and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills but also in
countries like Taiwan, where ‘teachers are expected to integrate technology into
instruction with learner centred beliefs’ (Liu, 2011, emphasis added) despite differences in
teachers’ own pedagogical beliefs. Wade et al. (2013) contend that the successful use of
technology ‘invariably mandates cultural transformation’ (emphasis added) from teacher
to student-centred learning with Prensky (2001) and Stillar (2012) relegating the teacher to
a mere ‘facilitator’. However, Kirschner et al. (2006) doubt the efficacy of minimal
guidance claiming that students can ‘acquire misconceptions or incomplete or
disorganized knowledge’, while Fullan and Donnelly (2013) contend that ‘guides on the
side’ equate to poor pedagogues with a need to focus research on the pedagogy in
learning contexts, not technology.

ELT has had an extensive relationship with minimal guided learning. Versions and
derivatives of the CLT approach (Communicative Language Teaching) have had a
privileged position in ELT for over three decades. CLT ideology has been embedded in
ELT policies in most countries (Hayes, 2012) regardless of criticism by several prominent
scholars in the field (Bax, 2003a; Canagarajah, 1999; Holliday, 2005; Phillipson, 1992,
2001) and considerations of problematic implementation of Western pedagogic ideology
in other countries (Holliday, 2005). This is not to say that successful implementation is not
feasible in other countries but it is rather a question of whether it should be, with Bax
(2011) calling for a focus on ‘the learning, instead of the learner’; a context based
approach when considering language learning environments (Bax, 2003a, 2003b). As an
example of this problem, one need only consider beginners in language learning and
difficulties they would face collaborating in a foreign language (not to mention issues of
confidence and losing face). Minimal guidance — often presented as a companion to the
successful integration of technology — may not always be appropriate in language
learning contexts.

Thus, with the above points considered, this researcher concedes that the notion of
hyperbole (positive or negative) (Bax, 2011) about technology’s role in education and its
associated pedagogies, is detrimental to TELL (Technology Enhanced Language
Learning). Thus, it is imperative to have a more inclusive approach in technology
integration models of a range of pedagogies and epistemological standpoints and socio-

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cultural factors in TELL. In other words, it is important to consider the complexities of
individual teaching and learning contexts which also include teacher beliefs about
pedagogy and the use of technology, learning objectives and tasks set. Simply to accept
notions of pedagogy that are packaged with technological innovations implies
irresponsibility on behalf of researchers and practitioners, especially in under-researched
areas like mobile learning. To develop this concept further it is necessary to consider
popular integration models, which, as it will become clear, are often used as platforms to
predominantly promote minimal guided learning ideologies.

Current Technology Integration Models

The SAMR and RAT Technology Integration Models

The SAMR (Puentedura, 2013a) model is a technology integration model for educators
(Figure 1) that is based on four successive states on a continuum or ‘ladder’ (Puentedura,
2013b). At the initial stage — substitution — a new technology simply replaces an old

Figure 1: SAMR Model

technology, offering nothing more than the original tool. In augmentation, technology
offers the user a more efficient alternative (e.g., tapping on a word in an e-book and being
provided with a pop-up definition). These two stages constitute the enhancement level of
the model, meaning that tasks beyond this point become ‘transformational’. For example,

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in the next stage, modification, the technology changes the task and in augmentation it
has been changed to a degree whereby the task was impossible without the technology.

Although Puentedura (2003) claims that ‘no particular “quality” label should be attached’
to the tiers in the model, its progressive nature (together with Puentedura’s own metaphor
of a ‘ladder’ and several of his examples of minimal guided activities like Challenge Based
Learning) suggests that redefinition is the ultimate goal. However, the SAMR model fails
as a successful integration model because ‘educational innovation is not value- or
culture-free but must be considered in relation to the context in which it is to be
implemented’ (Hayes, 2012) and this (despite the SAMR model’s appeal) cannot be
shown simplistically. SAMR is driven by technological determinism that ultimately shows
technology impacting on teaching and learning. In other words, it shows pedagogy is
changed and this would not be possible without the technology at the upper tier.
Additionally, it does not acknowledge that this change may not necessarily facilitate
better learning or progress (Fullan, 2001). It also assumes at the base level that the
introduction of technology (substitution) equates to an inevitable enhancement of the
learning task (even through, by definition substitution means to replace one thing with
another). Furthermore, it omits showing a context where technology may actually impede
otherwise successful learning (i.e., when something that has not been designed
effectively or where there are issues of self-regulation and cognitive overload etc., see
Hwang & Wu, 2014).

Furthermore, to the SAMR model’s detriment, and despite its wider popularity and
promotion in recent ELT literature (Bannister & Wilden, 2013; Hargis, Cavanaugh, Kamali,
& Soto, 2014; Hockly, 2013), it does not appear that its author has ever presented it to the
academic community in the form of an entry in a peer reviewed journal. However, a very
similar model does appear in conference proceedings called RAT (Replacement,
Amplification, Transformation — see Figure 2) (Hughes, Thomas, & Scharber, 2006). Like
SAMR, RAT has incremental stages of technological integration. At the optimal stage

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Hughes et al. (2006) claim that, ‘technology in this case does not reiterate established
educational patterns and goals… the instruction, the learning process, and/or content is

Tech transforms instructional method, students’ learning
processes, and/or subject matter.

Tech amplifies current instructional practices, student
learning or content goals with increased efficiency and
productivity being major effects.

Tech replaces but does not change established instructional
practices, learning processes or content goals.

Figure 2: RAT Framework — Adapted from Hughes et al. (2006)

fundamentally different… and the technology has played a central role’ (emphasis added)
and just in case there is any doubt as to the ideology behind the model, the authors quote
Pea (1985), who states, ‘both the content and the flow of the cognitive processes
engaged in human problem-solving’ are reconfigured in some way. Unfortunately, it is
because of the same ideology and the reasons given above for the SAMR model that the
RAT framework fails to fully address the needs of TELL and only has the minor advantage,
in that replacement does not claim to enhance the learning task. Additionally, academic
dialogue about technology’s role may do best not to focus solely on the abilities of
technology but rather on the ‘ideological and ethical issues concerning what schools
should be about and whose interests they serve.’ (Apple, 2002). It is now worth
considering less incremental integration models to see how they differ.

The TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) model (Koehler et al., 2013;
Mishra & Koehler, 2006) builds on Shulman’s concept of knowledge of pedagogy
(Shulman, 1986, 1987) to explain teachers’ knowledge of educational technology
combined with pedagogical and content knowledge (Figure 3).

TPACK explains a synergistic relationship and equal standing of teacher knowledge in

three vital areas when considering technological integration: technology, pedagogy and
content while still keeping context in the foreground. It even acknowledges several
approaches where PD can migrate from, and build upon existing strengths (see Table 1).

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Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge


Technological Technological
Pedagogical Content
Knowledge Knowledge


Pedagogical Content
Knowledge Pedagogical Knowledge
(CK) Knowledge (CK)


Figure 3: TPACK Framework (Mishra and Koehler, 2006)

Approaches for Developing TPACK

Approach Description
From PCK to TPACK Teachers draw upon their existing pedagogical content knowledge
(PCK) to form insights into which technologies might work well for
specific learning goals.
From TPK to TPACK Teachers build on their knowledge of technology in general to develop
expertise in using technology in learning contexts; they then use that
knowledge to identify and develop specific content that benefits from
teaching with technology strategies
Simultaneous development Teachers gain experience and knowledge through projects that
of PCK and TPACK require them to define, design, and refine solutions for learning
problems and scenarios. The design process serves as the locus for
activities that produce insights into the ways technology, pedagogy,
and content interact to create specialized forms of knowledge

Table 1: Approaches for Developing TPACK (adapted from Koehler et al., 2013)

TPACK acknowledges that each context is unique and that ‘solutions lie in the ability of a
teacher to flexibly navigate the spaces defined by… content, pedagogy and technology,
and the complex interactions among these elements…’ (Koehler et al., 2013). However,

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for all its merits, TPACK has several weaknesses when applying it to a teaching

In their review of 55 TPACK related peer reviewed journal articles, Chai et al. (2013) claim
that there are three main issues of concern:

• Different interpretations of the constructs of the TPACK model in the

research community;

• TPACK and teacher beliefs about pedagogy are inextricably linked;

• A lack of subject specific notions of TPACK in the literature.

Additionally, Graham (2011) argues that there is a gap in academic literature between
TPACK and knowing what actually happens in technology integration in practice and that
the simplistic presentation of the model hides its true complexity because, ‘all the
constructs being integrated are broad and ill-defined’. Additionally, he calls upon
researchers to defend why each construct is an important contribution to understanding
practical issues in technological integration. Again, this highlights the dangers of
oversimplifying concepts that attempt to explain complex issues. The question remains if
there is another framework that can guide complex interactions in the practice of effective
and pedagogically-inclusive technological integration and is explored next.

Professional Development in Technological Integration through

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoPs), a concept developed by Lave and Wenger (1991), are
described as groups that share a common interest, the members of which partake in
regular social interaction in order to learn how to improve their practice (Wenger-Trayner &
Wenger-Trayner, 2015). As is evident in the graphical representation below (see Figure 4),
core to all CoPs are three characteristics: domain, community and practice.

CoPs in education have a much broader appeal in PD but could also be considered in a
more inclusive approach to technology integration in language learning. What is evident
from Lave and Wenger’s work are affective factors on learning which can extend beyond
the local level, and inevitably — through technology — to global resources. Furthermore,

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Communities of Practice
organisations associations

local global
requests for information
building an domain community development
governments argument
expertise / collective interaction / help /
competence sharing of information


and synergy

social sector
growing confidence
discussing the web
developments practitioners who share
experiences, stories, tools
mapping knowledge
practice and identifying

reusing assets
face to face online

Figure 4: Communities of Practice (adapted and developed from Lave and Wenger, 1991)

CoPs can address a culture of inquiry within individual technology integration contexts

• more efficient ‘just in time’ learning as technology evolves;

• collaborative opportunities on design, implementation and evaluation

• meaningful opportunities for reflection and professional growth

(Jacobsen, Clifford, & Friesen, 2002)

Additionally, newcomers to the community have an active role to play because learning is
a ‘byproduct rather than the primary goal’ (Lave & Wenger, 1991). In this context,
newcomers could be experienced educators that lack an awareness of opportunities
which may (or may not) exist within educational technology.

However, there are also several points to consider with this framework. Namely, issues lie
in the lack of active PD activities especially in the realms of technology integration
(Kopcha, 2012). More specifically, there are broad concerns that CoPs may not be able to
address, including the:

• fossilisation of practices without on-going support (Fullan & Donnelly, 2013);

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• quality and content of teacher education (specific to ELT) (Murray &
Christison, 2013);

• exclusion of professional grade instructional design and material

development in modern technology integrated teaching (Asino, 2015; Başal,

• the ability to choose technology based on ‘digital decision’ and not ‘digital
divide’ (i.e. informed decision making which is not based on the lack of
technological knowledge) (Selwyn, 2011b; Zainal, 2012 the latter specific to

• the negative influences of wider socio-economic power on the identities of

academics and the consequential blurring of boundaries within CoPs
(James, 2013)

CoPs traditionally build on an apprenticeship model of learning, yet modern language

teaching professionals cannot rely solely on their content knowledge. Instead, they also
have to be a discerning consumer of educational technology for their students’ sake. This
is where formal PD can also play its part despite not fitting in with the traditional view of
the CoP. Academics like Jones and Dexter (2014) consider formal PD as part of a holistic
system together with informal and independent PD. Expert intervention like this and
informed decision-making based on research (Bax, 2011), specialised networks (Kalafatis,
Lemos, Lo, & Frank, 2015)2 and the awareness of cultural and political forces at work
through ELT (Pennington & Hoekje, 2014) and indeed technology (Apple, 2002; Selwyn,
2011b) all need to play their part in any model presented for technology integration.
Designers of any future technology integration frameworks would be wise to then adjust
their epistemological and ontological lenses in light of all the factors outlined above
concerning learning for both teachers in PD environments and what technological
integration means under an alternative paradigm. This is something that the paper
considers in more depth in the next section.

2Despite their work on the unrelated field of information usability on climate adoption Kalafatis et al. (2015) show that
specialised knowledge networks can work together with CoPs to ‘span the boundary between knowledge production and
use’. Like information on climate change, information on technology also changes at a rapid rate and so the adoption of
knowledge networks in TELL may also benefit the traditional CoP.

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Epistemological and Ontological Considerations
The dominant epistemological perspective on learning within the literature is in support of
learning which lends itself to a social constructivist paradigm. However, this is often an
over-simplistic appropriation of both what the wider implications are in implementing a
technological innovation and what it means to be a language learner. Often, this translates
into models, which, despite their wider appeal, do not take factors like culture, politics
scientific and pedagogical belief systems into consideration. Instead, simplification
comes down to considering technology in what Bax (2011) terms as a ‘single agent
fallacy’ and in doing so, this leads to the assumption that the technology itself is the sole
factor in influencing learning and pedagogy for better or worse.

In an attempt to develop a more inclusive pedagogical perspective, the researcher of this

paper has considered the notion of normalisation of technology (Bax, 2011) which is when
technology is used without conscious awareness of its valuable role in language learning.
This concept sets language learning, teaching and technology in a social constructivist
but also (and very importantly) a ’contextualist’ framework primarily drawing upon Mercer
and Fisher’s (1997) work —a Neo Vygostkian perspective. This not only suggests that
learners can develop reasoning and thought through their social interactions but also that
assisted learning or instruction is both widespread and vital to human mental
development and that any limits in learning can be extended by ensuring appropriate
instruction (Bax, 2011; Mercer & Fisher, 1997). Thus language learners or teachers
interacting with technology never do this in isolation because the learning activity has
several characteristics (Figure 5). It is culturally based (be that one’s own or another
culture), it is a social process that is developed though communication and understood
through contexts that have been formed by culture where assistance and instruction are
fundamental elements to mental development. It is also important to stress that this
paradigm is ‘learning-centred’ as opposed to ‘learner-centred’ — accommodating the
student is not enough, in this context they also need to be challenged and actively
instructed and guided by an informed pedagogue (Bax, 2010).

This worldview on learning allows for the development of a technology integration models
conducive to PD through an adapted framework of a community of practice, one that is
not just reliant on social interaction but on expert assistance and instruction. This is not

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limited to student learning but rather extends to the professional development of teachers
in language learning contexts.


Developed through A Social

assistance or Process

Understood Developed
through culturally through
formed settings communication

Figure 5: Factors affecting the interaction of technological learning activity (developed from Bax, 2011)

Discussion of Findings: Towards a more inclusive model

The data collected through the literature has allowed the researcher to draw upon three
main sources which have informed a chain of evidence and consequently a list of factors
to consider, when developing a technology integration model for communities. Namely:

• Concepts of techno-centric paradigms which have (mis)guided pedagogy in

language learning contexts (i.e. an emphasis on minimal guided learning);

• Popular technology integration models (e.g. SAMR) in practice, and in

research (TPACK);

• Trends in Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL);

• The introduction of alternative concepts for informed PD through CoPs;

In light of this, the research has shown the following factors should be considered for
more inclusive technology integration models that are not driven by technologically
deterministic paradigms:

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• Technology should not be considered as the dominant or sole agent in any

• Minimal guided learning is not always ideal in establishing successful

learning or indeed technology enhanced learning;

• Individual contexts and the complexities that accompany them should be

realised and incorporated within technology integration models to avoid
dogmatism in teaching and learning;

• Incremental models of technology integration should be avoided as they

offer a simplistic and often inaccurate view of the spectrum of contexts

• Constructs in alternative technology integration models and boundaries

should be clearly defined once theories through practice have been tested
and established;

• CoPs adopting technology integration should also be aware of the role of

power struggles and their effect on community member identities.

• Expert / professional guidance is essential to PD which should be informed

by field research (action or design based) in order to keep practices current
but context based.

The original research question posed asked:

How far is it possible to develop a critical technology integration model which is more
pedagogically (and by default epistemologically) diverse and is more representative of the
language teaching and learning community?

This paper has shown modest indications that it is possible that technology integration
models can be more pedagogically (and epistemologically) diverse. However, this is by no
means a simple task. CoPs are essential frameworks which can be adapted (namely to
include expert instruction) to accurately represent the realities of the adoption (or not) of a
technological intervention and as part of the wider educational community. That being
said any research can only be conducted under a techno-pedagogical paradigm with an
emphasis on the context and all the affective factors associated with it.

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This research has highlighted the importance of establishing a model of technology
integration that is not technologically deterministic. It is very important to understand that
each context of technology integration in language learning and perhaps education at
large is highly complex with a multitude of factors.

The implications for theory and the development of professional practice are that:

• there is a realisation that there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for

technology integration;

• each context is highly complex and cannot be considered solely with a

techno-centric paradigm;

• pedagogies often associated with techno-centric paradigms cannot always

be applied to language learning contexts;

• all stakeholders (including practitioners, policy-makers and administrators)

should be made aware of the aforementioned factors on technology

• qualitative research in technological integration needs to concern itself with

the complexities of individual, practical contexts.

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