Have you ever come across something and it just makes a lot of sense. In fact, it makes so much sense that you wonder if you’re “just late to the party” so to speak (which for me wouldn’t be the first time).

What I am talking about is teacher technology adoption especially in regards to web 2.0 and 21st century skills. In the last few months I’ve done quite a bit of research on what drives teacher technology adoption--an absolutely fascinating topic for me. Some of it has been for an article I wrote and the other for a series of grad school papers. In both cases, I’ve really tried to tie it what I’ve seen over the last 12 years. So here are the themes, I’ve seen in the research and just blogged about:

1. Teacher's beliefs of teaching (pedagogy) and student learning (epistemology) affect teacher technology adoption.
2. Teachers who engage in more teacher-led pedagogy adopt less technology.
3. Teachers who leverage constructivist-centric pedagogy have a tendency to use more technology.
4. Teacher's beliefs and values are not hardened systems; however, they are complex and prone to revision.
5. The richness of an environment (technology, support, quality, quantity) can change a teacher's beliefs and values in learners and pedagogy.
6. The manner in which technology is presented (teacher-centered or student-centered) impacts those teachers holding differing views.
7. Web 2.0 and 21st century skills are collaborative in nature; thus they are constructivist. This collaborative and constructivist nature of the web 2.0 technologies require teachers to adopt their beliefs which brings us back to theme #1.

Saying technology can enhance learning and the “oh, wow!” factor, although nice to hear, doesn’t always help with sustainable day-two implementation. That is what has me led to do this research and write.

Are these themes common knowledge? If so, are they so common that we don’t discuss them? I mention this because I don’t see or hear these thoughts in conversations about web 2.0 or 21st century skills yet they seem to make a great deal of sense.

Tags: 2.0, 21st, adoption, beliefs, century, collaboration, constructivism, pedagogy, tech, values, More…web

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what a FANTASTIC post - you have said so much so concisely and so clearly! just this weekend I was corresponding with a friend who is trying to do a presentation on technology for the professors in her department and she asked for my advice - I couldn't really express clearly why the issue seemed to be not so much the technology but the pedagogy that these folks have embraced, more specifically the underlying teacher-centric pedagogy that drives so much of what they do... often unconsciously through no particular choice of their own but through the force of institutional traditions and inertia.

university professors often know nothing, and care nothing about pedagogy - I usually use the phrase "student-centered" in my talks with other faculty member since they can figure out what that means at face value; I would guess the majority of my colleagues have never heard anything about "constructivism" in teaching, since we are all trained in our separate disciplines and usually receive little if any training in pedagogy at all.

so, THANK YOU - I am going to send a link to your post here to my friend - I am guessing it will help crystallize her thoughts better than the random blah-blah-blah I sent her over the weekend, trying to articulate pretty much exactly what you are saying here, but did not manage to do nearly so well!!!


Very, very interesting. So, what I am curious about is: where is the decision-making about technology actuallly happening in a school? How often are the teachers actually involved in the hardware/software/support decisions? What is the impact of these decisions on teacher adoption and use?

Having access to computers only some small amount of time has to have an impact as well. Also, what not being able to depend on hardware functionality, or consistent access to web resources?
Hi Steve,

Great questions...

I think decision making varies among schools and districts and is made on varying levels. When I worked as an ed tech consultant, some schools made more decisions administratively while others would include teachers and other staff members. Most of the hardware/software decisions from my decision were made from the top-down unless a teacher saw a tool that he/she really thought could be useful.

I think these decisions can have a big impact on teacher adoption especially if the tool is too complex, training/support isn't thorough, or infrastructure can't support the needs. Ownership over the decision making can also always have an influence. Also, interestingly, while a technology-rich environment can help, teacher ed tech adoption, I don't think, is always a given in this situation-it's such an individual choice of not just whether it's used but how it's used. ISTE has the STaR matrix that measures technology hardware richness and availability. In more than a few situations, while doing district and school "audits" I saw many technology rich schools but with low implementation/adoption. That is why I go back to the teacher as technology consumer theme...

In The Change Function, a book that came out last year I think, the author Pip Coburn's theme was that consumers won't adopt technology unless their current pain was greater than their Total Perceived Pain of Adoption (TPPA). This has helped fuel my thinking about technology adoption and specifically teachers as technology consumers.
Hi Edwin,

Great post. I agree with just about everything you've said here. I also haven't seen any research studies on this, but in discussions with like-minded professionals it certainly seems true. It would be nice to have some data behind it.

However, I wouldn't just say that these beliefs are constructivist in nature. There are many epistemological viewpoints out there that share the belief that learning is a social or, at least, involves social interaction, including: Constructionism (different from constructivism) and networked theories of learning (most recently, Connectivism) to name a couple. We often just fall back on constructivism as a general concept of social learning.

Media vs. Method (Clark & Kozma are a popular example) have been debated quite a bit over the years. Regardless of your stance on this, one thing that most people can agree on is that a tool can effect how one teaches. I am of the opinion that the use of participatory technologies in the classroom makes it easier, if not necessary, to move away from teacher control to student control. Therefor, promoting learner autonomy in the process. Though, not assured, I think that it is easier to move in that direction when using technologies that afford student contribution rather than just information processing.

Again, great topic and I look forward to more folks chiming in.

What a great discussion! Edwin, you've brought up so many key factors that affect whether teachers are likely to get into web 2.0. I'm going to bring this up in a teacher discussion group I run.
Dan, this is what you're studying, too--isn't it? Please, keep us posted about what you learn--everyone--as we move into widely and wildly divergent new ways of teaching. The adoption of web 2.0 technologies into the classrooms is a profound step in a new direction, more profound than other educational reform I've seen in my career (3 decades).
Usually when there's a pedagogical change the results of the change are not so evident. This change leads to entirely new ways of viewing education.
OK. I'll be the contrarian for a minute:


What you're saying, in your introduction to EdTechEconomics, is that the consumption of ed tech depends in part on psychological variables. Hmm, haven't we seen that idea before? Maybe in the Demand /Utility Function on page 8 of the econ text?

OK, I should rephrase that somehow. The points here are well taken. More detail seems in order. What drives these belief systems, and how should technology adapt to them? Are the belief systems often not rooted in the individual's genetic psychological disposition? Points 2 and 3 first seem revealing, and then very natural. Does age enter into this? Training? Or is it purely a personality-type issue?

And how should the supply-side respond? Target the department store has decided that what it can do to sell more DVD players and other items is to make the technology less technological. They know that if you are into burn speed and gigabits of memory, you may not be buying your electronics at Target anyway. (This video, Microsoft designs the iPod box, shows something of a similar idea).

Are there specific examples and instances to back this up?
Edwin, another dimension: what about public-centered education?

Beyond how students should learn is the large question of what they should learn. Many of us look at education in terms of what the people of Ohio, or New Zealand, or the US, or the world need from the graduates of their institutions of k-12 learning. Technology based learning may contribute to that, or it may distract.

If your beliefs run to the idea that on top of basic science and math and writing, students should learn how to use as many current technical tools as possible, you may feel strongly about adopting the current forms of tools in science and math and English classes.

If, however, you feel that its important to the world that they have in their heads many bits of Shakespeare and Longfellow and Bach, and Franklin; and that they know Grant did not win the battle that achieved our independence; or that sleepy Romans concerned with spectacles, feasting and power gave up their Republic, then their sovereignty; or that the Shia in general have views much more like Catholics than like their Sunni counterparts or even President Ahmadinejad; that they know something of Newton or Jefferson or Edison or Cady-Stanton; well, then you may be less tolerant of spending time with the nuances and troubles of mastering the currently available toolset.

Of course, many teachers (Nancy B) lean toward the latter and still employ blogs and whatnot in the classroom. But aren't there plenty of teachers who will say, consciously or no, 'thanks. but. For what I think my kids need to learn, I'll hold out for eduweb 3"?
It's not just about wanting kids to learn traditional stuff. I want my Social Studies students to know the prime ministers of Canada, the date of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when Canada got its "new" flag, and when the constitution was patriated. I help them organized those traditional ideas with wikis, online timelines, blogs, and just plain old Internet searches. Those Web 2.0 tools don't distract from learning, they give teachers more (and often better) ways to organize it.

If teachers don't adopt the technology, that's not about traditional curriculum vs. the newer stuff, it's about teacher attitudes.
Teacher tech adoption (and lack thereoff!) is a fairly common topic in some blogs, and going back further than that you'll find a lot of academic research that tries to figure out the reason why. Effective professional development, school climate, leadership, Diffusion of Innovation models, teacher resistance, etc.

What you are pointing out is that the issue with "getting teachers to use technology" is not only a technology issue but a pedagogical issue. And anything complex is .... well, complex.

By the way, your conclusion that collaborative "skills" are by nature constructivist is not a given. These are different as Daniel pointed out.

I think as people come to use technology and discover the potential in education, it's a natural thing to discover (or re-discover) pedagogy and educational theory that suddenly seems extremely relevant, and wonder why no one else is talking about that.

You ask if you are late to the party - well, yes and no. It's sort of like walking into a big party and wondering why no one is eating the great dip. But in reality it may have been really popular 5 minutes ago, but you weren't there. And 5 minutes from now someone else will come in and rediscover the dip once again. It's not the dip that's changing!

Your thinking and writing about this stuff is important, even if it's all been said before. If we all don't continually reflect and keep saying what we know over and over again, the message won't live on or be passed to newcommers.

You might enjoy this article - Why School Reform is Impossible by Seymour Papert
That's a great article--thanks for posting it. I love the idea that it's evolution that's happening, something that's arising naturally and organically as new tools become available. Here's a quote I like: "the shift from a stance of reform to a stance of evolution does not exclude active intervention, but the role of the change agent becomes less like the architect or builder and more like the plant- or animal breeder whose interventions take the form of influencing processes that have their own dynamic."
There's so MUCH in that article. Sylvia, what other articles are relevant? Post some more!
I feel like in some very basic way, this can relate back to the idea of the technological native. Children who grow up in the present techie culture have a natural advantage over their teachers--the same ideas as how it is easier to learn a language when you are younger, as opposed to starting one when you are 50. I think that I have a particularly interesting perspective on this. As a student, particularly in high school a remember feeling more comfortable and with some technologies and their use than my teachers. I've grown up with the internet, typing come completely naturally (my bother and I were talking the other day about how natural it feels to type--we don't even have to think about it--it is completely automatic), and IM and facebook are some of my primary forms of communication. (Thinking of this reminds me of teaching my mom how to use her new cell phone...a test in patience). Yet now, as I observe younger children, I realize that they are doing things that I hardly even understand with technology. Technology develops so quickly that even I am outdated, as the younger generation grow up with the new, more advance techie ideas.

To get back to the post, this all relates in that teachers are constantly falling behind in technology unless the actively keep ahead of their students, which is very difficult. So perhaps in some cases it is hard to adopt technology in the classroom not because the want isn't their on the part of the teacher, but the confidence and skill is missing.

I wonder if for teachers not on 2.0, it would be helpful to have regular technology "lessons"... just a thought.
Interesting discussion. Imagine having it in 5 years time when much of this "new" technology is no longer new, and when the true roles of RSS feeds, podcasting, social networking etc, have become more established in society. Some thoughts:

- technology at most levels in school is a tool; , or should be, something to use to teach, to learn, to communicate. It is not an end in itself.
- if the tool is easy enough or effective enough or enriching enough, it will be adopted. The late adopters will only do so when the current pain is greater than the perceived pain of adoption, as has been said. This "current pain" will increasingly include (for teachers) lack of advancement at work, alienation from the online communications networks etc. Fortunately the tools get easier to use all the time.
- yes, it is important to teach students how to use the tools as they currently exist, so that they can use them to engage in the current methods of learning and communicating, (e.g. to enjoy the 3-D recreation of the Collossuem, take part in an online political discussion, graph and analyse the results from their science experiments, listen to podcasts in their foreign language) all the time preparing themselves to use these tools in the workplace. The emphasis must be on what the tools deliver, what they enable you to achieve, not on how to use them. Then, as the tools change, the students will be able to appreciate the possibilities offered by the next generation of tools.
- Teachers are people too, and it is important to teach them how to use the tools, not just as educators, but also so they can utilize the tools in their own lives. Every teacher and every professor faces a retirement where technology is mainstream, and they will need to use many of these technologies to manage healthcare, pensions, communicate with their children etc. How often is this put forward as an argument to encourage faculty to adopt technology?



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