Structuring an inquiry-based classroom in the 21st century
A place to clean up classroom clutter by reflecting on daily practice, blogging, saving articles, posting practical tips, and all random things that have to do with education.
Simply imposing reform-based ideas on schools and teachers will not result in substantial adoption of these practices into teaching and learning (Chen, 2008; Uluyol & Sahin, 2016; Vrasidas; 2015). For sufficient change to take place, teachers need motivation to use technology in innovative ways (Sang, Valcke, van Braak, Tondeur and Zhu, 2011). There are many factors that can prevent or encourage teachers’ motivation for meaningful technology integration that should be considered when implementing a technology integration plan into any educational institution. Here is a brief outline of a number of these factors.
Motivational Factor: Support from peers
Anytime wide scale reform takes place in a school, teachers who already feel the pressure of being responsible for student growth and learning may feel anxious. Given this context, it is important to put in place conditions where teachers feel supported. Cifuentes, Maxwell and Bulu (2011) state that “professional learning communities provide a social context for dialog and experimentation to support teacher growth” (p. 62). Fullan (2011) furthers this notion by saying that “when it comes to socialization there is no better teacher than one's peers” (p. 85). When professional sharing between peers is structured into daily and weekly schedules, a culture of learning is established and can be invigorating for all involved.
Motivational Factor: Time
During his observations, Vrasidas (2015) says that many teachers feel that planning a “technology” lesson takes a lot more time than a traditional lesson. Even though technology has the potential to help a classroom or lesson run more efficiently, teachers may feel that they do not have time to integrate it into their own practice. Schools can provide more flexibility in structuring the school day in a manner that allows for teachers to engage in professional conversations and establish what will work in their personal contexts (Whitehead, Jensen & Boschee, 2013).
Motivational Factor: Collaboration
An extension to support, collaboration is a motivational factor. Collaborative creation of lessons has a motivating influence on a team, generating a learning experience that can positively affect an individual teacher (Chong & Kong, 2012). When this factor is present, a change in teacher practice can be tied to the broader change initiative, developing a school community support network, influencing not only teachers to implement but for the community to implement as well. Collaboration also allows teachers to reflect on their own practice, whilst sharing their experiences with other members of their community. According to Slavit and McDuffie (2013), “self-directed teacher learning is an avenue for exploring questions of practice generated by teachers. When these questions are constructively negotiated by a teacher community, buy-in is almost certain” (p. 104).
Motivational Factor: Confidence
Having digital literacy (MacCallum, Jeffrey, & Kinshuk. 2014) and a positive attitude towards technology (Vrasidas, 2015; Sang et al., 2011) is a deciding factor on whether a teacher will successfully utilize technology in their daily practice. Being able to select from a wide range of technologies that support their pedagogical practice will also benefit lessons in a more authentic way (MacCallum et al., 2014).
Motivational Factor: Perceived Usefulness
In the end, teachers need to see technology as useful and beneficial to their students’ learning (Chen, 2008; Uluyol & Sahin, 2016; Vrasidas, 2015). This realization grows in part due to the other factors of time, support, collaboration and confidence. Having fluency of technology use as it applies into one’s own context, will take some time to cultivate but the benefits will most certainly emerge over the course of time.
A final Consideration: Learner-centered pedagogy
It should be considered whether one’s teaching is of sound practice even before the integration of technology. Chen (2008) points out that if technology has allowed for learners to seek out their own needs in learning, a more learner-centered approach in teaching and learning might mismatch with a school curriculum that is more teacher-centered and lecture-based. Curriculums that are not flexible or accommodate more interactive, learner-centered pedagogy may not be sufficient for technology integration (Uluyol & Sahin, 2016). An analysis of the current state of school curriculum as planned, taught and assessed can be a worthwhile endeavor before integrating technology into schools.
Leadership needs to keep in mind that teachers cannot just merely implement change without inquiring into how technology can affect their own personal practice. That is why the factors listed throughout this post may be crucial to teacher motivation and technology. Teachers will be the change agents who will not only implement reform but will also be valuable partners when assessing the level of its effectiveness. “When the nature of teacher learning is embedded throughout the educational system, more opportunities emerge to embed the practitioner knowledge into classrooms and the professional knowledge into broader educational contexts” (Slavit, & McDuffie, 2013, p. 104).
Cifuentes, L., Maxwell, G., & Bulu, S. (2011). Technology integration through professional learning community. Journal Of Educational Computing Research, 44, 59-82.
Chen, C. (2008). Why do teachers not practice what they believe regarding technology
integration? Journal Of Educational Research, 102(1), 65-75.
Chong, W. H., & Kong, C. A. (2012). Teacher collaborative learning and teacher self-efficacy: The case of lesson study. Journal Of Experimental Education, 80(3), 263-283.
Fullan, M. (2011). Change leader: Learning to do what matters most. Wiley. Kindle Edition.
Mac Callum, K., Jeffrey, L., & Kinshuk. (2014). Factors impacting teachers’ adoption of
mobile learning. Journal Of Information Technology Education, 13, 141-162.
Slavit, D., & McDuffie, A. R. (2013). Self-directed teacher learning in collaborative
contexts. School Science & Mathematics, 113(2), 94-105. doi:10.1111/ssm.12001
Sang, G., Valcke, M., van Braak, J., Tondeur, J., & Zhu, C. (2011). Predicting ICT integration into classroom teaching in Chinese primary schools: Exploring the complex interplay of teacher-related variables. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 160-172.
Uluyol, Ç., & Sahin, S. (2016). Elementary school teachers' ICT use in the classroom and
their motivators for using ICT. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 47(1), 65-75.
Vrasidas, C. (2015). The rhetoric of reform and teachers' use of ICT. British Journal Of
Educational Technology, 46(2), 370-380. doi:10.1111/bjet.12149
Whitehead, B. M., Jensen, D., & Boschee, F. A. (2013). Planning for technology: A guide for school administrators, technology coordinators, and curriculum leaders. SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.
PYP Grade 4 Teacher