The purpose of this paper is to (a) present and discuss a multi-dimensional context sensitive design in an educational research project focusing on IT in teaching and learning in upper secondary schools, and (b) report what participating teachers want the resource to focus on.
The project in focus in this paper is financed by the Swedish Research Council and will run between 2015-2018. The project embraces three levels of stakeholders – students, teachers and school leaders. This paper concerns the teachers and the importance of research projects being firmly based in the teachers´ own previous experiences, their questions and expectations on the project. The question posted is how the design of the project potentially can contribute with a long-term effect by providing knowledge and insights of importance when establishing sustainable ecologies of teaching and learning with IT in the schools? ,
Over the last 15 years there has been a continuing discussion about ICT in schools (Olofsson, Lindberg, Fransson & Hauge, 2015). This both on a policy level (cf. the European Commission, 2008: OECD, 2010) and within the research community (cf. Cox, 2012; Beckman, Bennett and Lockyer, 2014). Promising words on a policy level seem that stand in somewhat contrast to what a rather large body of research in this field reports. For example McGarr (2009) claims a lack of evidence that ICT in school in fact change neither the practice nor the pedagogy. Voogt et al. (2011), claim the necessity of a substantial body of research studies showing that the IT in schools change educational practices and have a positive effect on students’ learning experiences. Säljö (2010) that the results of the use of ICT in schools are seldom obvious or successful at a general or a subject-specific level. In Sweden, Håkansson Lindqvist (2015) concludes, the absence of up-to date and research-based strategies for the use of IT in upper secondary schools is noteworthy.
Even though significant efforts are done to improve the use of IT in schools, research seems to conclude that a lot of work remains. One might ask why. In this paper we can think of at least three reasons to this. First, and in line with Hayes (2006), research that reports negative results in relation to schools’ integration of IT tends to focus on indicators that can be identified in all schools, which means that there is a tendency for the results to be generalised. Further that so far studies have not enough considered the contextual factors that are unique to each school. Second, in line with Tondeur et al. (2009), that in order to understand the integration and use of IT in schools, research studies need to include structural and cultural factors and different levels in their design. Third, Third, implementing ICT must go hand in hand with teachers professional development to gain sustainability. In this, it has been claimed that the outcome of professional development to a great extent are influenced by “teachers subjectivity, which includes perceptions, previous knowledge, and the internalization of the power and influence present in educational policy and socioeconomic realities.” (Fore, et.al. 2015, p. 101). This call for to strengthen teachers influence and agency in professional development and implementation as well as in research.
In order to capture the emergence and development of teaching and learning with IT the design theoretically draws on notions as task perception, agency, and enactment as well as the TPACK-framework (Mishra & Koehler, 2008). Most important for this presentation is the notion of task perception, the self-understanding based on deeply held values and beliefs about the purpose with the education and one’s own tasks and responsibilities (Kelchtermans, 2009), agency, the way in which individuals “critically shape their response to problematic situations (Biesta & Tedder, 2006, p. 11), and how these interact in the enactment of ICT.
Method and context
With the ambition to design a context sensitive project in which the teachers will feel involved the teachers at the three upper secondary schools were in spring 2015 invited to answer a web-based survey. In order to focus on some aspects relation to different rational in different subjects as to the TPACK-framework were teachers teaching maths, social science or English and teachers in vocational education invited to answer the survey. In total 84 teachers were invited and 60 answered, giving a response rate of 71 %.
Besides receiving information about the teachers´ previous experiences, their questions and expectations on the project this data also served as a basic description of the schools. The web-based survey contained in total 18 questions with a mix of background questions, Likert scale multiple choice questions combined with optional text comment boxes together with questions with open comment boxes only. In this paper the main focus is on the open-ended qualitative questions which have been analysis with help of the software NVivo in which codes were created based on content analysis (Miles, Huberman & Saldaña, 2014).
The three schools are known for their advanced use of IT in teaching and learning and they can briefly be described as follows: School A being located in mid-Sweden in a municipal that has profiled itself for enacting IT to support teaching and learning in school. Since the mid-1990s, strategic efforts have been made regarding infrastructure and the professional development of teachers and school leaders in the digitalised school. School B is located in a large municipality in northern Sweden. For the past years the municipality has worked intensively to integrate and make use of IT. Due to School B’s advanced use of IT, a private foundation made it possible to establish a Centre of Technology and further to administrate 10,000,000 SEK over a period of 10 years for student scholarships. School C is the only upper secondary school in the municipality and has about 120 students and approximately 20 teachers. The school has become known for its distance teaching and its international partnerships. The principal of the school has received the Golden Apple Award from the Swedish journal “Computers in Education” (DIU) for his work in integrating IT in education. All three schools have for a rather long time been so-called one-to-one schools meaning that every student and teacher has their own computer.
Some expected results
Analyses shows that the teachers wanted the research-project to generate knowledge (for the teachers) regarding: (a) know-how about technological aspects how using ICT (how to use a smartboard, a software etc.), (b) know-how about methods using ICT-tools, applications and s for teaching and student learning like Flipped classroom, using the smartboard, or video editing apps, (c) know-how how to improve the use of the schools LMS, (d) issues related to Safety (netcontrol and plagiarism), (e) examples of best practice in ICT use, and (f) how organisational and interpersonal relations could facilitate teachers collaboration in teaching and learning, regarding their own professional development as well as in teaching the students. For example, how to share IT-supported teaching experiences by means of teacher community learning that in the long run can pave the way for a joint understanding about the teaching practice. In addition, the survey also provided rich information about what opportunities and challenges the teachers have experienced when using ICT.
The ambition is that the results of the survey to will generate a research-informed discussion about a context sensitive approach with potential to legitimize itself in the schools by starting in the needs expressed by the involved teachers. By doing so the project´s ambition is to open up for teachers’ involvement and agency and for the possibility for an enactment of ICT that becomes a sustainable use of IT in teaching and learning also after the project is finished. By this approach teacher concerns and knowledge is taken seriously as well as the question about ethics and values, that is – for whom and with which ambitions are we designing and carrying out research projects? This will be further problematized during the presentation.
The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), 23-26 August 2016, Dublin, Ireland