Image source: TES wikispace, CC License
My blog has had a hiatus, and it is time to dust off the year which has passed to begin reflecting, once again, on ideas which continue to engage me beyond my studies. I find my constant companion in reflection is the importance of using technology when teaching.
A key word search on Google Scholar with the words “faculty resistance to online learning” yields 368 000 results.
The other autocomplete searches using the regular Google search engine for “faculty resistance” include the words “change” and “higher education”. The widespread use of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and distance, blended, online learning options that exist (e.g. Athabasca University, University of Manitoba, University of Guelph, the Open University, eCampus Ontario, OntarioLearns), giving learners in remote areas access to higher education, means that faculty are increasingly faced with adapting and delivering face-to-face content in online or blended learning settings. Compounded with this challenge is the misconception among some administrators that a face to face course can be slightly modified and used for online delivery, and that teaching online is not as impactful, or interactive, as classroom teaching.
Many institutes of higher learning are in the process of adopting technology as an innovation model, or should be. Technology in learning, as well as teaching, is most effective when it is meaningful, measured, and interactive. This applies to technology which faculty use to teach, but it also addresses how faculty adopt technology in their virtual asynchronous environments as well as real time classrooms. As with any innovation, concern about technology and its connection to teaching and learning has various levels of adaptation and resistance. There are several frameworks which have been used in research to address this, most notably the Concerns based Adoption Model, or CBAM, but this model does not specifically address adoption of technology.
Sherry’s Learning/Adoption Trajectory model of technology focuses on five stages of adaptation of technology (Sherry et al, 2000). My interest at the moment is the first three stages, Teacher as Learner, Teacher as Adopter and Teacher as Co-Learner, because I believe these stages can be iterative. In a study I recently read, the Learning/Adoption Trajectory model is used for the theoretical structure because of its dynamic nature connected to the adoption of technology (Sahin & Thompson, 2007) but the study only examines the level of faculty adoption of technology, and is not a longitudinal study.
Addressing faculty concerns and providing support for technology implementation is important in order to empower faculty in delivering online distance education (Lampkin, 2010). Somewhere between the Teacher as Learner and the second stage is where I often encounter teachers in my workshops and webinars on technology, but there is no place in this model for the Teacher as a Non-User, which would be Stage 0, and an examination of what comes between that and Stage 1. How do we engage teachers to want to learn about technology in learning?
Which brings me back to “meaningful”. I think faculty need to be convinced of the impact of technology on students’ learning before they themselves become learners. Does the etool make engagement with the learner more effective, like Nearpod? Can informal assessment be made easier with an app like Socrative? If I ask my students to create a screencast of themselves reading in a think-aloud, will I know more about their processing of information? How can I engage with my students beyond the classroom in settings such as Twitter?
I don’t have the resources or the time to conduct studies examining the impact of these elearning tools, but I do have time to reach out to colleagues and learn about what makes them tick. Professional development in all forms aside, the connections we have with fellow educators may be the best way to lessen the divide and build a footbridge to Stage 1.
Chapter 12 Technologies, Digital Media, and Reading Instruction (n.d.) [wikispace]. Retrieved from http://deterding740.wikispaces.com/Chapter+12+Technologies,+Digital+Media,+and+Reading+Instruction
Lampkin, A. (2010). Faculty use of technology in postsecondary education (Doctoral dissertation, Clark Atlanta University, 2010).
Sahin, I., & Thompson, A. (2007). Analysis of predictive factors that influence faculty members’ technology adoption level. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 15(2), 167.
Sherry, L., Billig, S., Tavalin, F. & Gibson, D. (2000). New insights on technology adoption in communities of learners. SITE (Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education) International Conference, 1, 2044-2049
I have no doubt that learners appreciate instructors who are proactive in bringing fresh ideas to learning by the use of technology. It’s likely that there are many instructors who want to use technology but don’t have the confidence in their abilities. A sensitivity towards people’s hesitancy can go a long way to help those people step forward to say they’d like to learn.