Using ANT to Guide Technological Adoption: The Case of School Management Software

Using ANT to Guide Technological Adoption: The Case of School Management Software

Bill Davey (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia) and Arthur Tatnall (Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/jantti.2012100103

Abstract

In this article, the authors present the adoption and use of school management software in Victoria, Australia as an example of the use of actor-network theory to explain technological adoption. It examines three examples of school management software and identifies the actors and interactions relating to each of these. The use of three cases in the same environment provides an interesting insight possible by the comparison across the cases. The main goal of the article is to identify and analyse the factors that influence decisions to adopt this software and, once adopted, to determine how it might be used. Like other socio-technical research, in this case one has to consider the interactions between various human and non-human actors, and these are examined in the article. The article also looks at how an ANT analysis might be useful in guiding and facilitating such adoption in the future.
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School Management Software

For some time administrative computer systems in schools have been designed to meet the need to handle the large amount of data relating to individual students and student groups. This data is collected from many formal and informal sources including: student enrolments, observational surveys, early year interviews, running records, other formal testing and anecdotal notes (Tatnall & Tatnall, 2007). Other educational data relating to school and student performance is also important.

Australia is a federation of six states and two territories. The Commonwealth (Federal) Government is based in Canberra, but school education is the province of the State Governments. The Federal Government from time to time provides money for nationally significant education projects. As well as government schools in each state there is a significant private sector with private schools making up around 30% of the total.

In this article we will examine several computer systems for administrative use in schools in Victoria to investigate how they contribute to school community involvement (Davey & Tatnall, 2012, forthcoming). This analysis is facilitated by the fact that each of these systems is working in the same environment.

MySchool

A website recently designed by the Australian Commonwealth Government to inform parents and the community about all Australian schools (both government and non-government) is the MySchool website (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010). Early in 2010 the Australian Government launched this new e-government initiative (Gillard, 2010) that contains information about all of Australia’s ten thousand primary and secondary schools. (Although school education in Australia is a State responsibility, the Federal Government is also a significant actor in providing information and targeted grants to schools for specific projects.) The aim of the MySchool website is to allow parents to compare schools to which they may potentially want to send their children, or to see how their child’s school compares with other local schools. It includes information on the number of students and teachers at the school, the socio-economic background of the parents and an indication of how the school is performing in national literacy and numeracy testing (Davey & Tatnall, 2012, forthcoming). It provides information so that parents can compare their school (or potential school) with neighbouring schools and with sixty statistically similar schools (Gillard, 2010).

There has been a good deal of controversy about MySchool as some schools consider that they have been unfairly treated and that as a consequence they have lost potential students. Others have argued that the methodology for obtaining and showing the data is flawed (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

MySchool website (http://www.myschool.edu.au/) with information for Montmorency South Primary School

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