Monday, September 20, 2010

Living Classrooms: Complexity, Learning and Technology.

Writers such as Siemens (2005) contend that behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism are no longer valid theories on which to base instructional design because of the impact of technology. More importantly, they are no longer valid because of new understandings of the nature of learning (Falk 2005). The view that learning is a linear process determined by simple cause-and-effect relationships, with the same instructional inputs producing the same learning outcomes, is beginning to be superseded. As Falk (2005) states:
“Learning is always a highly personal process, highly dependent upon prior experiences,
occurring within a highly situated socio-cultural and physical context and
involving multiple sources of experience and information”.
If it is assumed that learning is associative and cumulative rather than an instantaneous event, there are implications for what teachers think they are providing in the form of learning experiences. Teachers' efforts are sure to have unintended outcomes and the notion that the classroom can operate as an assembly line is unrealistic. While machines may be taught to compile, store and retrieve information, despite our best attempts at planning learning experiences, human learning is ever present, chaotic and unpredictable. Data does not become knowledge automatically. Understanding, and therefore knowledge follow only after interpretation (Cilliers 2000).

Continuing to view learning in a mechanistic way also undervalues learning outside the classroom and reduces the quality of classroom learning because diversity and interaction are stifled (Stanley 2008). Despite some teachers' best efforts, no classroom is void of interaction but a lack of diversity of interactions diminishes the quality of the learning. Falk (2005) asserts that “in the increasingly technological and complex world of the twenty-first century, it is clear that these institutions (schools) can no longer fully meet the learning needs of society'. The scope of this study does not include philosophical discussion of the role of schooling in education but it is important that students become knowledgeable and leave with enhanced motivation and learning capacity. While not precipitating learning, teachers are occasioning action. The teacher participates in, but does not determine, student learning (Davis et al 1997) and helps develop healthy attitudes or emotional responses to learning.

While Constructivism goes some way in explaining that learning is messy and no longer has to occur in a linear manner, it fails to explain how communities such as the classrooms learn as an entity. A wider understanding of learning is required that encompasses navigating the sea of abundant knowledge, making connections and the individual and communal dimensions of learning. Complexity Theory, when applied to the field of education, challenges the view that learning is something that only happens in educational settings.  This theory also challenges the view that teaching is a mechanical and linear process, but of irreducible complexity (Davis et al 1997). It also seeks to explain the classroom as an entity, community or complex system that learns as individuals do, in a chaotic and uncontrollable manner.  Teachers know that each class has a personality, a “vibe” about it, that is greater than the sum of its parts. Trying to control learning in a classroom is somewhat like trying manage the growth of a fig tree, a system with many bifurcations that is constantly evolving in response to dynamic forces. To support this view of classrooms as entities, consider that if external regulations and prescriptions were effective, every classroom would feel the same. Clearly they do not and experienced teachers know that strategies effective in one class often fail in another. Teachers may either ignore this or take advantage of it in order to benefit students.  If the metaphor of classroom as complex system is applied, teachers can reflect on what successful organisations do in order to survive and grow. They are constantly learning and transforming in response to dynamic forces. Successful organisations are those where creativity, communication, collaboration and diversity are cherished. They are communities where people have opportunities to spark off each other.  Business managers know that change is the only absolute and stability leads to obsolescence (Shelton and Darling 2003). Effective managers offer responsibility to workers, trust them and are comfortable not having to know what each team member is doing at any one time. While in many classrooms, teachers value linear processes, uniformity, silence and autonomy. There are several evolutionary changes, that will make it increasingly difficult for teachers to maintain this industrial age model. One of these is one-to-one computing. Leander (Knobel and Lankshear 2007 p.37) states that some technologies appear to be perfectly suited to traditional schooling, including, the overhead projector, and the duplicating (photocopy) machine, whereas networked laptops would appear to be a disruptive innovation: “You’re kind of opening Pandora’s box [the Internet] and trying to just kind of stick it in a different box [the school].” (Knobel and Lankshear 2007 p.35). For this reason, it is worthwhile studying classrooms as complex systems for the purpose of identifying interactions that are disrupting traditional schooling models and moving participants towards being a more healthy classroom community(SACSC 2004).

Methodology

All complex systems are characterised by their potential for novel behaviours and unexpected shifts and for this reason, complexity theory as an appropriate framework for understanding classrooms as a learning community. It follows that qualitative methods are most appropriate studying complex systems as they respond differently to identical stimuli, cannot be controlled and exhibit unpredictable behaviours. And as Complexity theory acknowledges the inability to totally understand the whole through an understanding of the parts, this study aims to understand these classrooms by understanding the interaction of their parts (Phelps et al 2005), particularly in the way that technology disrupts traditional paradigms. The focus on individuals will be on the capability of both students and teachers rather than their competency (Phelps et al 2005). Capability is defined by Cairns (quoted in Phelps et al 2005) as ‘...having justified confidence in your ability to take appropriate and effective action to formulate and solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar and changing settings’. Capable people are those who know how to learn, are creative, have a high degree of self-efficacy, can apply competencies in novel as well as familiar situations and can work well with others (Hase & Kenyon, 2000).

The classroom community is regarded as an adaptive, self-organizing and complex entity. Both the cognizing agent and everything with which it is associated are in constant flux, each adapting to the other in the same way that the environment evolves simultaneously with the species that inhabit it. (Davis et al 1997).  This study will therefore focus on the evolutionary development of classrooms as a learning entity based on a complexivist view (SACSC 2004) of what constitutes a healthy classroom community:

Complexity Happens - Planning allows for many paths to desired curriculum endpoints. Members embrace surprises as part of everyday teaching and learning experiences and all are open to new and often unexpected possibilities.
Interchangeable roles – Members roles vary according to the context of the learning taking place. Members freely exchange roles with students acting as teachers and teachers as students simultaneously. Teachers are participants rather than experts in the community.
Learning is Associative - Learning happens by making connections and is regarded as highly personal. The classroom feels safe, caring and inclusive and learning grows with emotional investment and positive associations. Knowledge is an evolving process resulting from interaction, not an object (Davis et al 1997). Knowledge has a life-span and knowledge is shared.  Knowledge is the “knowers”. Teachers ask questions for which they do not themselves have answers (Gadamer 1990).
Engagement —Engagement is defined as the behaviours that follow from students' cognitive orientations (Munn and Martin 2005) hence it springs from experience, or viewed through complexity theory, “we are our experiences” (SACSC 2004). Complex co-activity is present rather than repetitive, and mechanical exercises.
Diversity – just as successful organisations seek to exploit different talents and personalities, healthy classrooms tap into and exploit member's talents in order to create synergy.
Redundancy – Members share common subject matter, culture, language, history, and expectations and support each other in achieving this commonality so that roles are interchangeable. The skill sets of individuals are developed in meaningful contexts before complex possibilities are explored.
Decentralised Control – Learning activities can arise from the collective actions of the students and the teacher. The members perceive that they have sufficient control to exercise free choice in their learning (Falk 2005 p.8).
Constraints – The rules are set but there are an infinite number of plays just as in a football game. The structures that allow unpredictable outcomes to eventuate are created and maintained.
Connectivity – This is more than allowing students to work in groups. Individual ideas and unpredictable interpretations are able to interact with each other and structures are in place to maintain this interaction as a source of inspiration and planning. Members are led by the conversation (Davis et al 1997) rather than leading it. The conversation is more than the coordinated actions of its members and not subject to predetermined goals. Sources for it include other classrooms, schools and countries.
Balance – a balance of redundancy versus diversity and familiarity verses novelty is maintained.

If it is considered that chaos is inherent in the evolutionary process (Shelton and Darling 2003) and therefore classrooms as entities are in a constant state of evolution, it is worth examining the chaos of classrooms and if they are evolving towards the attributes of a healthy classroom mentioned above. According to Complexity Theory, there is no fixed or linear relationship among the various components of a classroom community. Rather, all the contributing factors in a classroom are connected. This study will attempt to report on the contribution of one-to-one in specific classrooms and the way this technology is affecting this evolutionary process.


References

Cilliers, P. (2000) Knowledge Complexity and Understanding. Emergence 2(4), 7-13 . Lawrence  Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from http://www.econ.tuwien.ac.at/hanappi/E_CO/Vol_2_4/Issue2_4.pdf#page=8

Davis, Brent, Sumara, Dennis J. (1997). Cognition, complexity, and teacher education. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.scu.edu.au/pqdlink?Ver=1&Exp=09-13-2015&FMT=7&DID=11185309&RQT=309&clientId=20824

Davis, Brent, Sumara, Dennis J. (2000) Engaging Minds: Learning and Teaching in a Complex World (n.d.). . Retrieved from http://www.complexityandeducation.ualberta.ca/Documents/Engaging_Minds.pdf

Falk, J. (2005). Free-choice environmental learning: framing the discussion. Environmental Education Research, 11(3), 265-280. doi:10.1080/13504620500081129

Gilchrist, A. (2000) The Well Connected Community: Networking to "The Edge of Chaos". Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal.

Phelps, R., Hase, S., & Ellis, A. (2005). Competency, capability, complexity and computers: exploring a new model for conceptualising end-user computer education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(1), 67–84.

Phelps, R., & Graham, A. (2010). Exploring the complementarities between complexity and action research: the story of Technology Together. Cambridge Journal of Education, 40(2), 183-197. doi:10.1080/0305764X.2010.481259

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3–10.

Shelton, C. and Darling, J. (2003) From theory to practice: Using new science concepts to create learning organisation.  The Learning Organization; 2003; 10, 6; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 353

Stanley, D. (2009). Complexity Theory: Portraits, Principals and Practices of Imagination? From
http://dev.papers.ierg.net/papers/Darren%20Stanley%20%20Complexity%20Theory.pdf

The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities (2004) Safe and Caring Schools in a Complex World: A Guide for Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.complexityandeducation.ualberta.ca/Documents/SACS_in_a_Complex_World.pdf

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What types of student - teacher interactions in technology rich primary school classrooms increase student engagement?

This question represents a refinement of my initial research questions. In order to clarify the scope of the study, several terms are defined.

Technology Rich Classrooms
It may be assumed that schools use digital technology with the aim of improving learning outcomes.  Identifying these outcomes is more problematic. Leander (Knobel and Lankshear 2007) argues that schools find themselves in a tug-o-war between maintaining a traditional factory production model and the constructivist model reflected in digital media. As stated in a previous posting, there is no evidence that one-to-one programs have increased test scores, so in this sense, computers have failed to support improved learning outcomes. This may be because (Leander in Knobel and Lankshear 2007 p.37) some technologies appear to be perfectly
 suited to traditional schooling, including, the overhead projector, and the duplicating (photocopy) machine, whereas networked laptops would appear to be a disruptive innovation: “You’re kind of opening Pandora’s box [the internet] and trying to just kind of stick it in a different box [the school].” (Knobel and Lankshear 2007 p.35).  If learning outcomes are aligned with preparing students for  (Jenkins 2010) “the new digital society” or “new literacies” (Knobel and Lankshear 2007), laptops may instead, represent complimentary technology. For this reason there is an assumption that achieving learning outcomes refers to outcomes that support new literacies in the new digital society.

Student – Teacher Interactions (New Literacies and The New Digital Society)
According to Knobel and Lankshear (2007 p.1), new literacies are video gaming, fan fiction writing, weblogging, using websites to participate in affinity practices, and social practices involving mobile computing. Clearly, a broader understanding is required. According to Jenkins (2010b), “reading and writing were once relegated to reading books and writing papers, but now we write into meaning through new media such as video, audio or even construction of physical objects”.  Richard Halverson (Jenkins 2010a) sees schools as “victims of the success of the prior generation's technology” that have found it difficult to adapt to digital media and these new literacies. The ingrained batch processing models of K-12 schooling mean that digitally literate young people have come to understand that “there are at least two living channels for learning: an institutional channel, and 2) a peer-driven, interest-driven, and unregulated digital media channel.” Supporting this is Leander's (Knobel and Lankshear 2007 p.35) study of a school's three year adventure with digital learning: "In short, Ridgeview Academy was a contradiction of social spaces: on the one hand it presented itself and technically structured itself to be an “open” wired social space for 21st century girls, while on the other hand, official school practices and discourses domesticated, or pedagogized (Street and Street 1991) potential openings of space-time provided by the wireless network. In official school practice, the wireless network was “rewired” or closed off and anchored in ways that reproduced traditional school space-time." Most common computer practices were word processing and other activities "judged to be simply online versions of former print technologies and distributions". The use of computers created discourses "as multiple and conflicting” and that “Ridgeview was caught up in a struggle of expansion and contraction”.

Jenkin's (2010) believes students must learn how to be participants in the new digital society and advises teachers to recognise and value the digital learning students engage in outside of school by inviting it in to classrooms and making a space for it. He suggests that students don't value what they learn in online communities because their teachers don't value it. He emphasises teachers need more flexible roles in their interactions with students and to overcome their fears of loosing control of the classroom. He suggests modelling the self-correcting, collaborative environments of the digital society where students have a responsibility to share what they know with others and make sure it as accurate as possible. The traditional aim of creating autonomous learners is counter to the collective intelligence model of the new digital society.

Halverson (Jenkins 2010a) suggests the importance of the concept of apprenticeships, where students learn what they need to know and learn through their mistakes. He argues that “schools structures have typically lacked scaffolding support for individual learners to learn from mistakes - particularly across grades and classes”. Furthermore he states:
“We can either learn from failure, or try to avoid it. Connecting high stakes consequences to institutional failure has led many public schools to pursue a risk-avoidance approach to instruction. This intolerance for failure at the system level has been translated into a similar intolerance to experiment at the classroom level. Contemporary public school policies insist that all students show learning progress, which has led to dominant models of instruction that emphasise efficiency, smooth learning trajectories and predictable outcomes. Schools are often reluctant to experiment with high-yield, high-risk, instructional practices. Innovation is risky - most innovations fail, and even the ones that succeed are usually fundamentally transformed before achieving wide dissemination.”
This supports Stager's (2009, p.1 ) claim that “ As the technology has become cheaper and more ubiquitous, its use in schools has become more cautious and pedestrian.” 
Halverson (Jenkins 2010a) suggests an example of alternative and authentic learning models: ”Participatory cultures, such as fantasy sports, highlight three critically important aspects of learning missing from many school learning activities: motivation, production and legitimate audience. 

Student-teacher interactions, may be seen as constructivist pedagogy that incorporates the use of technology to achieve the learning outcomes of the new digital society. Research by Mumtaz (2000) reports that “teachers who successfully used digital technologies have a positive attitude towards ICT, emphasise student choice rather than teacher direction, and encourage students’ empowerment as learners rather than as recipients of instruction." Teachers who adopt this approach are not only more likely to use digital technologies creatively, but also to encourage higher levels of student interest and motivation (Gaffney 2010, p.8). Hence, the importance of engagement in achieving learning outcomes and the need to define the term engagement.

Engagement
The motivation and engagement framework created by Munns & Martin (2005, p.1) is useful in defining the concept of student engagement: 
“Motivation can be conceptualised as students’ cognitive orientations towards themselves, school, and schoolwork. On the other hand, engagement can be defined as the behaviours that follow from these cognitive orientations. At a meta-level, intervention designed to enhance students’ motivation and engagement involves improving students’ (a) approach to their schoolwork, (b) beliefs about themselves, (c) attitudes towards learning, achievement, and school, (d) study skills, and (e) reasons for learning. Also at a meta-level, intervention involves addressing (a) educators’ messages to students, (b) educators’ expectations for students, (c), how learning is structured and paced, (d) feedback to students on their work, and (e) classroom goals and assessment.

Conclusion
What remains now is a qualitative study of student - teacher interactions in technology rich primary school classrooms to create a more accurate picture of teacher behaviours that increase levels of student engagement. There is also a need to search for evidence of the same discourses identified by Leander (2007) at Ridgeview school and suggest ways these discourses may be negotiated in the hope that students will view school a relevant part of a broader digital learning channel and part of the new digital society. The next post will examine research methodologies that would support such a qualitative study.

References

M Gaffney. (2010). Enhancing Teachers’ Take-up of Digital Content: Factors and Design Principles in Technology Adoption.

H Jenkins. (2010). Confessions of an Aca/Fan. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://henryjenkins.org/

H Jenkins. (2010a). Is New Media Incompatable with Schooling?: An Interview with Rich Halverson (Part One). Confessions of an Aca/Fan. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://henryjenkins.org/2010/03/an_interview_with_rich_halvers.html

Knobel & Lankshear (2007). A New Literacy Sampler. Library of Congress ISBN 978-0-8204-9523-1

Munns & Martin (2005). It’s All About MeE: A Motivation and Engagement Framework Geoff Munns School of Education, University of Western Sydney, Australia Andrew J. Martin SELF Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Stager, G., (2009). Hard and Easy: Reflections on my ancient history in 1:1 computing : Stager-to-Go. Available at: http://stager.tv/blog/?p=560 [Accessed July 20, 2010].

Monday, August 16, 2010

One-To-One Programs in Schools: The Hype verses The Evidence

In trying to understand what happens in schools that adopt one-to-one programs, it is important to examine some of the hype surrounding these programs in the light of recent research. For this purpose, use is made of statements made by Saul Rockman (2007) about the perceived benefits of one-to-one programs:

Programs have evolved and expanded to the point where they have influenced the nature of schooling.
Considering laptops to be a “game changer” in terms teaching and learning ignores factors identified by Gaffney (2010) such as, appropriateness and perceived value of the digital curriculum resources employed, the capability and desire of teachers to use laptops in their teaching, motivation and interest of students to use them as learning tools and school culture. Cuban (quoted in Weston & Bain 2010) also argues the view that equipping students and teachers with computers will revolutionise teaching and learning and increase test scores is largely unsubstantiated and that improved outcomes  are more likely the result of sound or innovative teaching rather than the deployment of laptop computers. He also (Cuban 1986) drew similar parallels with the introduction of television in classrooms in the 1950s. Weston & Bain (2010) offer support for Cuban's views that in the last ten years, there has been little evidence of effect of one-to-one computing on teaching, learning, and student achievement. Studies of large scale one-to-one programs support these views. According to Silvernail and Buffington, commenting on the Maine Learning and Technology Initiative [MLTI] (quoted in Weston & Bain 2010, p.7), “providing teachers and students abundant access to laptop technology is only the first step toward using the technology as an effective instructional and learning tool”. Stager (2007, p.1 ) goes further by stating that “ Sadly, as the technology has become cheaper and more ubiquitous, its use in schools has become more cautious and pedestrian.”

Having a personal computer changes students' attitude toward school.
Some large scale research projects support this view. The Irving Report(2006) on the Texas one-to-one program [TIPS] , reported, a positive effect overall of the laptop program on students attitudes. The Becta (2009) report states that in general, young people hold positive attitudes towards technology. According to Shapley et al. (quoted in Weston & Bain 2010, p. 7) however, across four evaluation years, there was no evidence linking technology immersion with students' general satisfaction with school work.  How teachers view the roles and responsibilities of students in learning, their willingness to enhance their students’ interest and motivation to learning and how they align these views with use of laptops important than one-to-one programs themselves.

Students take great care of their device and make it their own personal learning environment.
In an evaluation of a large scale One Laptop Per Child Program, Bebell and O'Dwyer (2008) found there was much less damage to the devices than expected. Also according to Quimby (2007, p.1): “Maine's repair costs have been relatively low. Jeff Mao, coordinator of educational technology at the Department of Education, estimated that no more than 2 percent of the computers were lost or damaged during the first four years, and this year less than 1 percent have been damaged or lost.” According to Stager (2007), students do personalise their laptops but more clarification of the term "personal learning environment" is required.

Students are participating more in collaborative projects.

The Irving Report (2006, p.4) noted that during 2006, and consistent with 2005 data, teachers reported that students typically work in groups more when they have laptops. Is this because computers allow more opportunities for collaborative projects or is it that teachers are changing their pedagogy in incorporate more group work? Having the means to more easily collaborate is a given with networked laptops, but this does not mean that the opportunity is taken up. The Irving report (2006) mentions however, that the number of teachers who said they never have their students present as part of a group on projects or presentations decreased from 51.7% in 2005 to 35.9% in 2006. More research needs to be done here.

Students display a greater level of autonomy, independence, and responsibility than they have ever before.
This appears to be a very lofty claim and both the Becta (2009) and Irving (2006) reports noted that levels of independent learning vary greatly between schools and that there are vast differences in the amount of independent learning in primary and high schools, with far less happening in high schools. This pattern of variation between primary and high schools was also evident in levels of daily use of laptops. According to Shapley et al. (quoted in Weston & Bain 2010, p. 7) , in Technology Immersion schools, students experience somewhat more intellectually demanding work” (p. 81–82) but that, “Across four evaluation years, there was no evidence linking Technology Immersion with student self-directed learning.” Levels of student self-directed learning, it may be argued, are more likely a reflection of pedagogy than technology.

Students are more organised about their school responsibilities and are more likely to get their work done on time.
The Irving Report (2006) noted that the nature of disruptive behaviours appeared to have decreased in form and frequency compared to one year earlier. More long-term studies of this view are required but again, as Gaffney (2010) states,  the crucial element of any technological innovation is the development of the human being, not the implementation. And Victory (2008, p. 24) in his case study of Luther College, Croydon, Victoria explains that:
“The school has allowed every student to be an administrator on their own computer. This is an approach that many school leaders, parents and politicians would find frightening but the most valuable thing that a school can do is provide students with a moral compass and, in doing so, encourage students to make good decisions about what they access and what they do with their computer.”
It is this guidance, rather than the device alone, that is important in levels of student autonomy.

Laptops better cater for students' varying abilities.

The Becta report (Cox 2009) states “ Over 80 per cent of teachers in both primary and secondary schools either agreed or strongly agreed that technology is particularly useful in helping to support the diverse learning needs of learners. Furthermore, around 90 per cent of teachers in primary, secondary and special schools agreed that technology can have a positive impact on learners with special educational needs. More teachers felt that technology had an impact on these learners than any other group. (Teeman et al 2009 quoted in Becta 2009, p.27 ). In supporting this, Weston and Bain (2010, p.6), commenting on Silvernail's MLTI report, stated that “less than 40% teachers strongly agreed that they can individualise curriculum to fit student needs with a laptop”. This does not mean that all students abilities are better catered for by laptops and more research is required.

Laptops improve the quality of student work.
The Becta Report (2009) found evidence of the benefits computer and Internet access at home is important in explaining achievement gaps and some behaviour outcomes. Computers at home were found to be positively associated with Key Stage 4 test scores, while losing access to a computer was associated with a reduction of 20 GCSE points, even after controlling for prior attainment. The work of Cox (2004, p.1) supports this view in the classroom also:
“The evidence from the literature shows the positive effects of specific uses of ICT on pupils’ attainment in almost all the National Curriculum subjects. The most substantial evidence is in the core subjects of English, mathematics and science at all key stages. Other subjects require further independent studies in order to substantiate the findings currently available. There is a strong relationship between the ways in which ICT has been used and pupils’ attainment. This suggests that the crucial component in the appropriate selection and use of ICT within education is the teacher and his or her pedagogical approaches. Specific uses of ICT have a positive effect on pupils’ learning where the use is closely related to learning objectives.”

Teachers set higher standards for challenging work and the work products that students have to provide.

It is difficult to prove this without some evidence of higher standards being achieved. Ofsted (quoted in Cox 2009) judged that assessment was the weakest aspect of ICT teaching and was inadequate in one fifth of schools inspected. Although the use of ICT in other subjects was increasing in secondary schools, the skills were rarely assessed.  If this statement of higher standards is referring to a change in teacher pedagogy, there is little evidence of this also.

Discussion
According to Weston and Bain (2010, p.7) one-to-one programs are the latest attempt to bring about more innovative teaching,  and innovation in schools seems to be always problematic. The complex nature of managing change and specifically, the large number of variables associated with the success of technology innovations in schools appears to mean many practices in schools seem to impede such programs. Lee and Winzenried (quoted in Gaffney 2010, p.6) highlight this point in noting “Successive trends associated with the ‘discovery’ and promotion of various examples of instructional technologies, from radio, television, overhead projectors and videos to personal computers – all of which at some point were predicted to revolutionise teaching, and subsequently did not.” Factors identified as responsible for successful use of the technology in schools were, appropriate choice of technology, a critical mass of IWBs; school leadership which is focused on the teaching rather than the technology; and a comprehensive and integrated implementation strategy. Essential to this strategy was teachers’ acceptance of the importance of their practice in relation to the new technology. Encouraging teachers to do this involves more than developing their technical skills or offering them opportunities for reflective practice’. Teachers have to deal with complex issues, be creative and autonomous learners and given support that meets them at their level (Gaffney 2010).

Cuban's (1986) view of teachers as gatekeepers, who independently determine how technology is used and to what degree, despite school or government policy, seems to be strongly supported by research findings. Weston and Bain (2010, p. 8) explain that, “researchers have demonstrated the possibility and promise of all sorts of changes, innovations, and reforms, few have shown a symptomatic pathway to improvements in routine practices of teachers and students at scale. Sparse evidence in the educational literature and in sustained practice shows the existence of innovative, individualized, problem-based instruction or for that matter any other reform or innovation at significant scale across schools, districts, and states.”
One-to-one programs face the same barriers as any innovation or reform and according to Weston and Bain (2010), such programs should not be singled out in this context. They do add however that: “ Quite possibly, one-to-one initiatives collectively represent heretofore-unattained scale and disturbance in the equilibrium of classrooms and schools and disruption in the educational paradigm." This is an interesting argument but it is unsubstantiated. Their argument (2010 p.12) that, “previously there were replacements: books replaced by web pages, paper report cards with student information systems, chalkboards with interactive whiteboards, and filing cabinets with electronic databases and that none of these equivalents addresses the core activity of teaching and learning”, could equally apply to laptops.

There is little evidence that replacing one technology with another does little to change what happens in classrooms. Laptops may be viewed as cognitive tools that support constructivist pedagogy but the focus should be on the changing pedagogy, not the technology.  In this context,  one-to-one programs do not create opportunities for cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, and problem or project-based learning by themselves. It is the way learning experiences are structured that enables laptops to be used to their full potential.

This movement towards more constructivist pedagogy is dependent on school culture and leadership. School culture is strongly resistant to innovation (Fullan 2005), particularly when changes call for people to think, act and organise their work differently. No teacher can be expected to change without the support of their peers. Schools that have a strong and shared vision embedded in policies and processes that make use laptops as a constructivist tool can create an environment conducive to change. The focus should be on change management rather than technological change. Leaders must recognise and address the range of human, educational, organisational and technological factors influencing the change process (Gaffney 2010). They must also address the individual needs and intrinsic motivations of teachers, their ability to use technology as well as extrinsic factors such as levels of technical support. Research by Mumtaz (2000) reports that “teachers who successfully used digital technologies have a positive attitude towards ICT, emphasise student choice rather than teacher direction, and encourage students’ empowerment as learners rather than as recipients of instruction." Teachers who adopt this approach are not only more likely to use digital technologies creatively, but also to encourage higher levels of student interest and motivation (Gaffney 2010, p.8). Levin & Wadmany (quoted in Gaffney 2010, p.9) link the intrinsic and extrinsic dimensions of teacher capability in terms of a developmental continuum as follows:
“At one end … lie the external influences on the teacher, and at the other end … are the teacher’s internal behaviours, in other words, her self-regulated, reflective behaviours. Between the two extremes lies the teacher’s dialogue with colleagues and students, which the teacher perceived as an important factor in helping them to implement the considerable innovation required by the project.”
Gaffney (2010, p.14) categorises teachers as Techno-phobe, Techno-sceptic, Techno-opportunist, Techno-phile . While such frameworks may be useful in identifying trends and setting goals for one-to-one programs, again it must be stressed that the focus should be on change management rather than technology management.

Conclusion
The review of the research undertaken for this report has revealed that much of the hype surrounding one-to-one programs is unsubstantiated and that focusing on the perceived benefits of technology rather than on pedagogy will do little to improve learning outcomes or to bring about change in schools. The weight of change is carried by the teachers who are the gatekeepers: deciding if, how and when they will use laptops as cognitive tools in student-centred classrooms or as digital exercise books. Guiding teachers to the point, where they see the educational benefits of constructivism is a key endeavour in successful one-to-one deployments. It requires deconstructing traditional classroom power relationships and focusing on lifting levels of student engagement and achievement.


References

Bebell, D., & O’Dwyer, L. (2008). Educational Outcomes and Research from 1: 1 Computing Settings. Assessment, 9, 6.
Cuban. (1986). Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology Since 1920.pdf. Stanford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.csun.edu/~jnk61575/sed514/docs/cuban_intro.pdf
Fullan, M. (2005), Leadership & Sustainability: System Thinkers in Action , Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.
Irving ISD - Irving, Texas. (n.d.). . Retrieved July 21, 2010, from http://www.irvingisd.net/tip/evaulations.htm
M Gaffney. (2010). Enhancing Teachers’ Take-up of Digital Content: Factors and Design Principles in Technology Adoption.
QUIMBY, B., & Writer, S. (2007). Loving the laptops. Portland Press Herald.
Rockman, S. (2007). It's my laptop. Threshold, 4(4), 21–25.
Weston. M,E and Bain, A. (2010). The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Crux of One-to-One Programs

This literature review began with five broad questions guiding initial reading:

1 What changes happen to teachers’ pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classroom?
2 How might the changes to their pedagogy be influenced by their values, attitudes and beliefs?
3 What professional development or learning might best support their effective transition to a one-to-one laptop classroom?
4 What might be the impact of the introduction of one-to-one laptops and associated pedagogies on the engagement of learners?
5 How might relationships between teachers and students change in a one-to-one laptop classroom?

It is now necessary to reflect on these questions in the light of recent reading in the hope of sharpening the focus and working towards a solid and sustainable research proposal.
Q1. What changes happen to teachers’ pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classroom?
In considering changes that are plausible is such a situation, use has been made of what Levin (2005 p.1) refers to as “four key areas where laptops and ubiquitous access to network resources affect the learning process: communication, organization, information, and production. In the one-to-one classroom, students and teachers are offered new ways to communicate and new methods of collaboration. Students and teachers have new opportunities to share ideas and offer feedback.
Organization: Students and teachers have access to new tools they can use to organise their learning and communication.
Access to Information: Student have access to Internet resources. Teachers have access to new resources and media to support student learning. Teachers can take advantage of current information on the Internet. Teachers no longer have to act as the source of knowledge in the classroom.
Student Production: Students are afforded new ways of demonstrating their learning and mastery.
As stated in a previous blog post, Handal (2004) and Judson (2006) feel that it is not external factors, such as the introduction of one-to-one computing that changes teachers' pedagogy, but internal factors such as teachers' beliefs about the nature of teaching and learning that are the strongest determinant in the degree of change that occurs. Levin's (2005) changes may be available as a result of the presence of ubiquitous computing, but these changes may not necessarily be adopted. Those with a relatively long history in the field such as Gary Stager (2009), agree that nothing will change as a result of one-to-one programs unless power relationships change between students and teachers. Teachers who want to remain in charge at the front of the room will not be making the most of what one-to-one can deliver. Papa (2010, p.4) also states, “The mere presence of hardware and software in the classroom does not ensure meaningful learning for students”. This highlights the importance a school communities motivation for introducing one-to-one programs. If there are no clear purpose, or if the purpose is to convince a naïve community that kids having the latest digital fashion accessory makes the school appears to be “with it”, it is hard to imagine that teachers' pedagogy will change. Such programs would appear to be more successful if the aim is for students to be more engaged in their learning and to improve levels of student achievement. If the school community then explore what is needed to make this happen, such as a need to change power relationships in the classroom and introduce the use of constructivist pedagogy, the need for digital tools that support aims or how classrooms are organised (Floyd 2010), then such initiatives would appear to have more chance of success.
Q2 How might the changes to their pedagogy be influenced by their values, attitudes and beliefs? A teacher's methods are unlikely to change unless their values and attitudes to learning are challenged. This emphasises the importance of school leadership in bringing about change. A leader driving change with a clear and well communicated vision for pedagogy and technology in their school, should have more effect on classroom practise than supplying computers to every child. As Papa (2010, p.4) states, “effective technology leadership is more to do with teaching pedagogy and human relations than it is with the technology itself”.
Q3 What professional development or learning might best support their effective transition to a one-to-one laptop classroom?
This question was explored in an earlier blog post.  Any effective model for technology professional development for teachers should include that suggested by Downes et al. (2001, p.81):
  • Opportunities to reflect on their own practice.
  • Time away from the classroom to engage in reflection.
  • Support for increasing adult to child ratios in the classroom.
  • Opportunities to meet with peers during the working week for the purpose of sharing ideas and solving problems.
Q4 What might be the impact of the introduction of one-to-one laptops and associated pedagogies on the engagement of learners? This question is similar to Q1 in that, once the initial excitement of students using a computer instead of an exercise book subsides, levels of engagement would largely be dependent on the skills of the teacher rather than the presence of computers. Studies considered by Becker (2000, p. 3-5) found that student engagement with computers was greatest in classrooms where:
  • Experimentation and exploration were encouraged, rather than drill-and-practice.
  • Activities were interdisciplinary, project-based and aimed at individual  student interest and ability.
  • Teachers were more willing to give responsibility to students for determining specific learning tasks and how to accomplish them.
  • Students worked in cooperative teams, where the teacher had become a co-learner rather than the primary source of knowledge for students.
Q5 How might relationships between teachers and students change in a one-to-one laptop classroom? Again, nothing may change unless the values, attitudes and beliefs of teachers about the nature of learning changes to accommodate constructivist pedagogy and this would appear to happen very slowly if left to osmosis. It needs to be driven by school leadership and effective professional development. One-to-one then, can be seen as a useful tool that can support a change to more student-centred or constructivist pedagogy rather than a panacea for increased student engagement and improved learning outcomes.

The current exploration of the original five broad questions is giving way to a new focus on leadership, pedagogy and human relationships in school communities and how one-to-one programs intersect with these themes.

References

Toni Downes; Andrew Fluck; Pam Gibbons; Ralph Leonard; and others, (2001) Making better connections: models of teacher professional development for the integration of information and communication technology into classroom practice. Available at: http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school_education/publications_resources/profiles/making_better_connections.htm#authors [Accessed June 16, 2010].

Floyd  A Paradigm Shift in Classroom Design | A Piece of My Mind. Available at: http://scottsfloyd.com/2010/04/19/a-paradigm-shift-in-classroom-design/ [Accessed July 21, 2010].

Handal, B,. 2004. TEACHERS’ INSTRUCTIONAL BELIEFS ABOUT INTEGRATING EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY. Available at: http://www.usq.edu.au/electpub/e-jist/docs/Vol7_No1/Commentary/Teachers_ins_beliefs.htm [Accessed May 31, 2010].

Judson, E., 2006. How teachers integrate technology and their beliefs about learning: is there a connection? - Free Online Library. Available at: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/How+teachers+integrate+technology+and+their+beliefs+about+learning:...-a0147205384 [Accessed May 31, 2010].

Levin, H., 2005. Laptop program update. Learning & Leading with Technology, 33(4), 17–20.

Papa, R., 2010. Technology Leadership for School Improvement, SAGE Publications.

Stager, G., 2009. Hard and Easy: Reflections on my ancient history in 1:1 computing : Stager-to-Go. Available at: http://stager.tv/blog/?p=560 [Accessed July 20, 2010].

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Is The Best Model for Teacher ICT Professional Development?

A 2001 report to the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training  made sweeping recommendations regarding models of pre-service and teacher ICT professional development (PD). It begins by noting that since 1990, school systems have pursued strategies related to professional development in ICT without challenging the purpose and functions of schooling in relation to a changing world (2001, p.10). In addressing the need for timely ICT PD, the writers list critical factors in effective ICT use in schools as being people, infrastructure, content and services, supporting policies and regulation. It may be argued that people are the most critical of these factors as spending on hardware, software and training alone has proven to be ineffective (2001, p.58) in terms of changing teachers' behaviours. It is through mentoring and collaboration that teachers are able to share, reflect and develop local personal learning communities to support their learning (2001, p.53). While the report suggests that teacher training in ICT needs to be linked to broader issues of school reform (2001, p.22) with students needing to become “apprentice knowledge workers”  and teachers “expert knowledge workers” in order to adapt to future needs, the same model could equally be applied to teachers and teacher training. The claim (2001, p.25) that curriculum change is the most effective way to change teaching practices seems doubtful in the light of evidence that the heart of change lies in pedagogical practice and teachers' need to redefine their fundamental beliefs about the nature of learning.

In terms of pre-service training, research cited (2001, p.33) suggests that the best models integrate the use of ICT across courses rather than teaching them separately. But again, the problem of a lack of connection between pre-service education and school systems and a lack of valid and meaningful examples of ICT in school classrooms, again emphasises the importance of people in the equation and the need for apprenticeship type models of pre-service training. The authors however, point out that there is little evidence that this apprenticeship approach is commonly employed in systems worldwide (2001, p.49).

In terms of ICT PD, one-off courses for teachers such as TILT, have been shown to be ineffective in several studies but still these methods persist (2001, p.51). It is pointed out that alternatives such as Personal Learning Communities are difficult to sustain and work best at the local level. This again supports the assertion that ICT mentors or coaches need to work within schools and support learning communities operating at a school level. The mentor model can meet all of the requirements dictated by this research (2001, p.58):
  • Experiential, engaging teachers in concrete tasks
  • Grounded in inquiry, reflection
  • Collaborative and Interactional with a focus on shared knowledge among educators and a focus on teachers' communities of practice.
  • Connected to and derived from teachers' work with their students
  • Sustained, ongoing and intensive, supported by modelling coaching and collective problem solving around specific problems of practice.
  • Connected to other aspects of school change integrated with a comprehensive change process.
The report concludes (2001, p.71) that there is little evidence of effective assessment of ICT skills and abilities of teachers and this further emphasises the importance of coordination of training investments at all levels to ensure systems are getting good value for money. These investments need to be based on a set of clearly understood standards that this report states are absent from these investments (2001, p.80). Barriers to PD in schools in general (2001, p.75) such as administrators' views that any time teachers spend away from classrooms is to the detriment of student achievement, point to the need for a rethink of the nature of learning and what constitutes teaching. Teachers cannot embrace the view of students being life-long learners, if they themselves are not given opportunities for learning. There is also a need to create strong links between school systems and to pre-service systems at all levels and to adopt pre-service models that allow for more apprenticeship-style training for teachers.

A system of pre-service apprenticeships with trainees spending 3 days a week in classrooms and 2 days in teacher education courses with student teachers employed as teachers' aids, but with rights to monitor classes, would support recommendations made by this report (2001, p.81) and allow teachers more:
  • Opportunities to reflect on their own practice through their modelling to student teachers
  • Time away from the classroom to engage in reflection.
  • Support for increasing adult to child ratios in the classroom.
  • Opportunities to meet with peers during the working week for the purpose of sharing ideas and solving problems.
Such a system for pre-service teacher training would also free up resources in schools, thereby creating conditions for school-based roving ICT mentors to support communities of practice.

References

Toni Downes; Andrew Fluck; Pam Gibbons; Ralph Leonard; and others, (2001) Making better connections: models of teacher professional development for the integration of information and communication technology into classroom practice. Available at: http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school_education/publications_resources/profiles/making_better_connections.htm#authors [Accessed June 16, 2010].

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Primary Students' Perceptions of School ICT Use: Exploration or Restriction?

Are primary school students disengaged from learning as a result of  School ICT use? Recent studies by Selwyn (2009, 2009b) shed some light on this question. Firstly, one study (2009) analyses students' drawing of ICT use:

 “drawing can be seen as an inherently child-centred procedure,  with the non-verbal nature of drawings freeing the child to express emotions and  attitudes that would be otherwise difficult to assess" (see also Fury et al., 1997;  MacPhail & Kinchin, 2004 quoted in Selwyn 2009).
 
Secondly, Selwyn has concentrated on surveying student perceptions of ICT use both at home and school and considers the relationships between these two types of use. His work depicts a bleak picture for primary students in these studies, disengaged from ICT use at school and with no evidence of the transforming and empowering influence of classroom ICT use often claimed by education technology commentators. Various important themes emerge from these works:
  • Primary teachers are more technically confident and more likely to make regular use of ICT in their teaching than their secondary school counterparts (Barker & Gardiner, 2007; BESA, 2007 quoted in Selywn 2009b) but there is a strong sense school ICT use being shaped by the nature of individual schools.
  • The dominant school mode of ICT engagement is direct instruction rather than construction of knowledge, with computer work mainly involving writing-up , making presentations and, for  older children, spreadsheet and database work (2009b, p. 928)
  • There was a lack of evidence of the use of Web 2.0 applications both inside and outside of school. This strongly contrasts the hype about "digital natives" collaborating on the Internet.
  • Importing popular outside-school, digital practices and artefacts as a means of engaging students may actually backfire. At the same time, developing forms of classroom technology provision that fit better with the needs, values and experiences of young people is only possible through meaningful dialogues with pupils about their home use of ICT and future forms of educational ICT use.
  • In Selwyn's analysis of students' drawings of school ICT use, personal ownership, play, fun were the strongest themes to emerge from the data in terms of what students wanted in the classroom of the future. There was also a pleading tone from the students and an understanding that school restrictions of ICT such as filtered Internet access were unlikely to change. 
Clearly there is a need to reconsider the role of ICT in the primary classroom in enthusing children about learning  and examining what make some schools more successful than others in this endeavour. It may be argued that the need for personal ownership created by the one-to-one classroom model and constructivist pedagogy would lead to more engagement. The importance of establishing dialogue with students about their ICT use seems also to be important. Educators can no longer assume they know what is best for their students in terms of ICT use at school.

Selwyn, N., Boraschi, D. & Ozkula, S.M., 2009. Drawing digital pictures: an investigation of primary pupils' representations of ICT and schools. British Educational Research Journal, 35(6), 909-928.

Selwyn,N. , Potter, J. & Cranmer,S., 2009b Primary pupils’ use of information and communication
    technologies at school and home. British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 40 No 5, 919–932.

Monday, May 31, 2010

What changes occur to teachers’ pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classroom?

Much of the literature so far considered, suggests that while teachers' pedagogy varies along a continuum from direct instruction through to construction, exemplary technology integration is found at the constructivist end of the continuum (Ertner 2001). A more apt question may then be: “Do teachers move from direct instruction to constructivist pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classrooms?”.
Before considering a response to this question, it is necessary to consider factors that influence teachers' pedagogy. Ertner (1999) argues that the more teachers integrate the use of technology, the more their pedagogy will change. The underlying assumption being that once sufficient technology is provided in classrooms, integration will follow (Ertner 1999; Becker 2000) and that teachers will employ more constructivist pedagogy.  There are however, barriers to this integration. Ertner (1999, p.48) describes factors that limit the integration of technology in the classroom in terms of first order barriers such as lack of computers and teachers' perceived lack of time for planning for technology integration.  Curriculum constraints,  lack of good technology role models amongst peers and lack of support by school leaders may also be added as external factors worth consideration. For example, Ertner (1990) states that teachers have very little experience with integrating technology in classrooms and they typically have few role models on which to build their own visions of an integrated classroom. Second order barriers to integration include teachers beliefs about both education and technology. These beliefs may be influenced by traditional instructional practices including teachers' own childhood schooling experience, teachers' previous experiences with technology in the past, lack of personal technology use, age and gender ( Etherington 2008, p.43 ). Teachers' views about themselves as agents of change, willingness to particpate in self-reflection, staff power relationships and cultural background may also be barriers to integration.
In answer to the question,  “Do teachers move from direct instruction to constructivist pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classrooms?”,  Handal (2004) and Judson (2006) state that it is not external factors, such as the introduction of one-to-one computing that changes teachers' pedagogy but internal factors such as teachers' beliefs about the nature of teaching and learning that are the strongest determinant in the degree of change that occurs. Therefore the introduction of a one-to-one laptop program that aims to increase the prevalence of constructivist pedagogy needs to include:
“Reformulating basic school culture notions regarding what constitutes content and content coverage, what comprises learning and engaged time, and even, what behaviours define teaching" (Ertner 1999, p.48).

References

Becker, H.J., The "Exemplary Teacher" Paper— How It Arose and How It Changed Its Author's Research Program. Available at: http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss2/seminal/article2.htm [Accessed May 24, 2010].

Ertmer, P.A., Gopalakrishnan, S. & Ross, E.M., 2001. Technology-using Teachers Comparing Perceptions of Exemplary Technology Use to Best Practice. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(5).

Ertmer, P.A., 1999. Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(4), 47-61.

Etherington, M., 2008. E-Learning Pedagogy in the Primary School Classroom: the McDonaldization of Education. Education Papers and Journal Articles, 6.

Handal, B, 2004. TEACHERS’ INSTRUCTIONAL BELIEFS ABOUT INTEGRATING EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY. Available at: http://www.usq.edu.au/electpub/e-jist/docs/Vol7_No1/Commentary/Teachers_ins_beliefs.htm [Accessed May 31, 2010].

Judson, E., 2006. How teachers integrate technology and their beliefs about learning: is there a connection? - Free Online Library. Available at: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/How+teachers+integrate+technology+and+their+beliefs+about+learning:...-a0147205384 [Accessed May 31, 2010].

Peggy A. Ertmer, Sangeetha Gopalakrishnan, and Eva M. Ross, 1999. Technology-Using Teachers Comparing Perceptions of Exemplary Technology Use to Best Practice. Available at: http://radicalpedagogy.icaap.org/content/issue1_1/stensaas.html [Accessed May 24, 2010].

Friday, May 28, 2010

One-To-One Classrooms

Since the 1960s, computer pioneers such as Seymour Papert (1980) have been advocating the educational value of computers in primary schools. Papert's vision, inspired through meetings with Piaget in Geneva, was for each child to have their own computer. In 1968, Alan Kay (Chen 2008) drew a picture of children with a computer each at a time when computers filled whole rooms. This drawing inspired designers and engineers to create the first laptop computers, which were aimed at the business rather than education market. Clearly these designers failed to recognise Papert's foresight as to the potential for laptops in education and schools.

"More and more I was thinking of the computer not just as hardware and software but as a medium through which you could communicate important things… an instrument whose music is ideas." (quoted in Stager 2003)

Several factors however, have recently meant that one-to-one computing in schools is becoming a reality. In 1990, Methodist Ladies College began one of the first significant one-to-one programs in Australia and industry started to take notice of the potential of the education market. Negroponte's (2005) One Laptop per Child program put further pressure on manufacturers to reduce the price of laptops. Also, the principle of one-to-one laptops being provided to students as a nation building and economic imperative, became manifest in the government policies of Portugal (Intel 2008) and Uruguay, which in turn may have influenced the Australian Federal Government's 2009 Digital Revolution. This implementation of increased computer hardware resources into Australia’s high schools has forced a rapid response from Australian private school systems (in particular).

Such implementation of one-to-one laptops poses many challenges to teachers (Donovan 2007). Although computers have been used in schools for over twenty years, rapid changes in hardware and software and the abandoning of school computer labs in favour of laptops, means that many classroom computer practices have to be revised (Simpson 2000). The training needs and range of technical abilities of teachers is an important political issue as evidenced in the Rudd government's Digital Strategy for Teachers (Digital Revolution 2010). Their announcement, on February 18, 2010 of $40 million in funding to support teachers’ ICT development highlights that this is both a political and educational imperative.

Part of this funding will be to determine how ICT proficiency can best be achieved. Very little research, to date, has focused on ICT professional development for teachers specifically in one-to-one laptop classrooms. Furthermore, in heeding the foresight of Seymour Papert (1980) in his early constructivist vision for laptops in schools, the value of a laptop is not as a tool to support traditional models of schooling, but for extending the natural ability of children to construct, explore and experiment. As such, any professional development preparing teachers for such a classroom context needs to move beyond technical skills or even pedagogical integration to fundamentally challenge and rethink the learning and teaching dynamic which happens in their classrooms.

From a more utilitarian/functionalist perspective, it may be argued that teachers have an obligation to prepare students in the use of technology (Barrett, 2002, p.47), as computers are used extensively in the workplace and society (Carter, 1998), but if one-to-one laptop programs fail to lift levels of engagement and improve learning outcomes, it is difficult to justify the cost. The program will fail to be sustained if teachers and parents do not see any benefits flowing from it. Teachers who are not supported to effectively embrace not just the technology, but the pedagogical strategies that it enables, will inevitably limit the outcomes for the children which they teach.

It would be naïve to suggest that the presence of the devices alone in the classroom lifts levels of student engagement. The devices may provide a brief increase in student interest in school because of their novelty value. However, it seems more likely that teachers' values and attitudes, their pedagogical practices and student-teacher relationships are more important factors in building and sustaining levels of student engagement.

In order to gain a clearer picture of the complex interaction of factors impacting on students and teachers in one-to-one classrooms, the following questions will be considered:

What changes happen to teachers’ pedagogy when a one-to-one laptop program is introduced in their classroom?
How might the changes to their pedagogy be influenced by their values, attitudes and beliefs?
What professional development or learning might best support their effective transition to a one-to-one laptop classroom?
What might be the impact of the introduction of one-to-one laptops and associated pedagogies on the engagement of learners?
How might relationships between teachers and students change in a one-to-one laptop classroom?

The Australian government's Digital Teacher Strategy highlights the importance of professional development of teachers affected by the Digital Revolution one-to-one laptop program. Such professional development needs to be authentic and reflect a thorough understanding of the factors influencing successful use of laptops in the classroom. This study will help provide a more in-depth picture of the nature of related student-teacher interactions with one-to-one laptops and provide recommendations for teacher professional development.

REFERENCES

Barrett, J. (2002). Four years of portability: Perspectives on a laptop program.
MultiMedia Schools, 9(4), 46-49.

Carter, M. W. (1998). A portable paradox? Laptop computers and outdoor learning.
The Journal of Experiential Education. 21(1), 14-21.

Charmaz, K. 2000, 'Grounded theory: Objectivist and constructivist methods', in Handbook of Qualitative Research, eds N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, Thousand Oaks, Sage, pp. 509-535.
Chen, B (2008) The Laptop Celebrates 40 Years. Wired Magazine November 3, 2008

Cohen, L., Manion, L., Morrison, K. (2000). Research Methods in Education (5th ed.). London: Routledge.

Digital Revolution (2010) Digital Strategy for Teachers. Accessed March 13, 2010 from
http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/DigitalEducationRevolution/Pages/DigitalStrategyForTeachers.aspx

Donovan, L. (2007). Teacher concerns during initial implementation of a one-to-one laptop initiative at the middle school level. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39(3), 263-286.

Intel (2008a). Intel Collaborates with Government of Portugal on a comprehensive new education initiative. Accessed June 15, 2009, from http://www.intel.com/pressroom/archive/releases/20080730corp.htmiid=pr1_releasepri_20080730r.

Penuel, W. R. (2006). Implementation and effects of one-to-one computing initiatives: A research synthesis. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(3), 329-348.

Livingston, P. (2006). 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop programs that work. Washington: International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Negroponte, N (2008) One Laptop per Child. Accessed March 8 2010 http://laptop.org/en/vision/mission/index.shtml

Papert, S. A. (1980) Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. Basic Books, NY

Phelps, R., Graham, A. (accepted 2010). Exploring the complementarities between complexity and action research: The story of Technology Together. Cambridge Journal of Education.

Phelps, R. (2002). Mapping the Complexity of Computer Learning: Journeying Beyond Teaching for Computer Competence to Facilitating Computer Capability. Unpublished PhD, Southern Cross University, Lismore.

Stager, G.S (2003) School Laptops - Reinventing the Slate District Administration Magazine, March.

Simpson, N. (2000) Studying Innovation in Education: The Case of The ConnectEd Project. AARE Conference Papers.

Strauss, A.  Corbin, J. (1994) 'Grounded theory methodology: An overview', in Handbook of Qualitative Research, eds N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, Thousand Oaks, Sage, pp. 273-285.