Technology Integration in Communities of Practice

Aside

This week we were asked to create a survey for our colleagues to see their feelings about technology integration.  I was pretty surprised at my results.  Once I analyzed the results I was able to see that the “social capital” (2004) of my school is probably the biggest issues dealing with technology integration.  Many of the teachers personal perceptions of their “own expertise” limit their capacity for integration in their classroom.  This fact is hard to digest, especially since our school has integrated Promethean boards, iPad carts, Apple TV and many other forms of technology in the school this year.  These technologies have afforded the teachers an amazing opportunity to expand their teaching and learning.

In order to gather the most complete and detailed information, I created a survey of three questions.  I decided to have the participants write extended response answers.  I believe this gave me a great look into the minds of my colleagues.  One major fear I had was how many of my colleagues would actually respond to the survey.  Our school is a priority school and we are sent survey upon survey to gather data for our school improvement plans.  Most teachers/staff despise taking surveys because they feel the data is never truly analyzed.  With this in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many teachers/staff participated and how many actually wrote extended responses to my questions.

My first question was How do you currently use technology in your professional practice?.  I received 16 responses (some responses had multiple answers).  The top three responses were Elmo/projector, iPads and Computers.  This result did not surprise me at all.  As a staff we have had our ELMO’s and projectors for five years.  All teachers have one in their classroom.  This last summer we were all given a teacher iPad to use in our classrooms.  obviously we all have computers in our rooms.  I was somewhat disappointed that there were not more of my colleagues using the new amazing technology that we have at our finger tips.  I wonder if this is because our community of practice (1991) is one of distrust and apathy.

The next question I asked was How/in what ways would you like to change/improve your technology integration practices?.  Again I received 16 responses(some responses had multiple answers).  The top two responses were getting iPad carts in the classroom and Promethean boards in each classroom.  I knew these would be amongst the top responses because this is the greatest school when it comes to technology.  With the integration of all of this technology, our tech staff has been working incredibly hard to get everything out and running.  However, we are an old building and our infrastructure cannot handle all of this technology.  Teachers are eager to adopt these new technologies.  It is incredibly hard to know that the technology is in the building, but it is out of reach (for now).  I believe that by establishing a stronger community of practice, we could work together to resolve many of these issues.

The final question I asked was What type of technology-focused professional development would you find most useful?.  I received 16 responses(some responses had multiple answers). The top answer was Promethean board training.  Promethean boards are an amazing asset to the school.  There are a plethora of things you can do on this board.  However, without proper training it just becomes a whiteboard on steroids.  As a collective whole, we have only received two hours of Promethean training.  The rest of our knowledge is from trial and error and utilizing our fellow teachers.

This survey made me realize that a community of practice is of the utmost importance.  My colleagues are incredibly knowledgeable and willing to try new things.  However, from past experiences where their professionalism was underutilized, a sense of apathy has set in.  I believe that by refocusing our community and creating an environment of collaboration integration will go amazingly well.

References:

Frank, K.A., X=Zhao, Y., and Borman (2004).  “social Capital and the Diffusion of Innovations within Organizations:  Application to the Implementation of Computer Technology in Schools.”  Sociology of Education, 77:148-172.  Retrieved from: https://www.msu.edu/~kenfrank/papers/Social%20Capital%20and%20the%20Diffusion%20of%20Innovations%20within%20schools,%20accepted.pdf

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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