Death by survey! It’s another educational survey!
This week I created my Communities of Practice Survey, dealing with technology integration practice within my school. Wenger-Trayner (2015) suggests that, “Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour” (p.1). In my MAET course I was asked to design and implement this survey to gain quantitative data on my staff’s knowledge of technology, their aspirations for technology integration, their ideas on what support they needed for integrating technology and their use of technology within the school environment, specifically within their classrooms. By creating this survey and distributing it to my staff, who are also part of my Professional Learning Network (PLN), I hope to gain a much greater understanding of the uses of technology (digital media) within my school.
The series of questions were developed to be answered by the staff to gather information in regard to the following aspects of technology within the school:
- Specific technology tools that are currently being used;
- Integration of technology into teaching/learning practices;
- Level of comfort with technology in the school; and
- Current and future professional development of staff.
In understanding and analyzing the data from the respondents, I hope to be better able to support my students, staff and the school community to better integrate technology in the future. Far too often we base what we know or want to know about educational technology simply on anecdotal interactions we have with our colleagues. Eli Pariser’s TED talk (2011) discusses “filter bubbles” describing them as our own online personal universes. He goes on to discuss that it is imperative to maintain a balanced information diet and if we don’t get this balanced diet then we are likely surrounded by “information junkfood”. We need the complete picture in order to develop a road map for the future direction of our schools and especially our students. In order to do this we need to break down the “freeze thought”, (Gee, 2013, p.93) and explore what we can do better!
Mishra and Koehler (2009), discuss that, “By their very nature, newer digital technologies, which are protean, unstable, and opaque, present new challenges to teachers who are struggling to use more technology in their teaching (p.61). With this thought in mind and with the relatively new approach to technology integration that the school has undergone in the past few years, especially with the introduction of a 1:1 iPad program in the middle and upper primary, it is now important to survey the staff, to gauge how technology integration has progressed in the classroom and what further professional development may be required to ensure continued integration success.
The initial results returned by staff indicate that 84% see the value and importance of the use of technology and say that it is actively promoted and used within the classroom, with 28% of the staff stating that it is essential within their classroom. Interestingly, 17% or three staff members see it as optional and say that they have no use for technology within their classroom. It is likely that these respondents are teacher assistants whose role does not require use of digital media with students. This may be an area in the future for possible professional development with these teachers / teacher assistants emphasizing the importance of technology within the classroom.
The data supports the view that teachers are comfortable and capable in using a range of different technologies within the school and the classroom, but are not utilizing the full capacities of the digital media available to them. It appears from the data collected that the teachers are applying a ‘top down’ approach to the integration of technology within the classroom and not fully embracing the principles of 21st Century Fluency. They are implementing technology as required with digital media usage within the classroom, but are not readily transferring digital fluency to their own manipulation of information.
It is very apparent from the data supplied that the staff are still wanting more professional development in the area of technology and technology integration. The data clearly shows that respondents are requesting more professional development (67%) and greater amount of time provided for the staff (61%) to better integrate technology into the classroom. 44% of recipients have noted that there is not enough support time provided with the integration of technology into the classroom. One respondent provided a comment that, “I.T. Specialists [are needed] to further develop the children’s skills and overall awareness of technology.” This would assist the staff with integration of technology within the classroom simultaneously.
In summary, the teachers are generally very open and active in the integration of technology into their classroom, but would like a greater amount of professional development and PLN time in which to better understand digital media and its applications. They identified professional development and IT specialist assistance as useful in their own personal learning and in the achievement of the school’s technology goals.
Gee, J.P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pariser, E. (2011). Eli Pariser: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/articles/v9i1general1.pdf
Wenger-Trayner, E & B. (2015) Communities of practice. A brief introduction. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/07-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf
Qualtrics: Online Survey Software & Insight Platform. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.qualtrics.com/