Academics' Perceptions of Using Technology with Face-to-Face Teaching

Academics' Perceptions of Using Technology with Face-to-Face Teaching

Geraldine Torrisi-Steele (Griffith University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch085
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Many academics are using technology in their teaching, and universities are strongly involved in the provision of support to help academics make the most effective use of the technology. How academics perceive technology for teaching partly filters their response to the provided support. It is therefore useful to explore academics' perceptions of the use of technology in teaching. The study (N=53) reported on in this chapter provides insights into academic perceptions of teaching with technology by addressing the questions: (1) Which teaching tools (both face-to-face teaching and digital) are most popular? (2) For what purpose are the tools being used? (3) Do academics intend to extend their current use of technology with face-to-face teaching for the purposes of implementing learning strategies? and (4) Which feasibility conditions do academics perceive to be important to the realization of their intended use of technology ? The results of the study show that, for the academics in the study, face-to-face teaching is perceived as the preferred tool, especially for learning purposes such as helping students to understand concepts. The use of technology by the academics was limited to the simpler digital tools, and these were used mostly for non-learning-related purposes such as communication. However, the academics expressed the intent to increase their use of technology for improving learning in the future, and perceived feasibility conditions such as professional and technical support, teaching facilities, and especially time to be important to the realization of their intentions.
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The term ‘technology’ as used in the context of this chapter refers to the suite of digital technologies, both existing and emerging. The suite of technology includes laptop and desktop computers, smart mobile digital devices (phones, tablets, pens), Internet based services such as social networking tools, learning management systems, video streaming tools such as lecture capture and video conferencing, digital classroom software and so on.

The use of digital technologies for teaching has its roots in computer-based training. Computer-based training was made possible by mainframe computers in the 1960’s and 70’s. As the 1970’s approached there arose a need to provide education to an increasing number of students. This lead to the development of the PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) system, one of the earliest uses of digital technology for learning (Bersin, 2004). PLATO enabled access to more than 3500 hours of training materials across over 100 subject areas, and it remained in operation for more than forty years (Smith & Sherwood, 1976). Terminals were located within educational institutions. The interface used a character-based system and the only input mechanism was the keyboard. The presentation of content was limited to line drawings, graphs and color photographs, displayed on a small 22cm screen. The system’s limited support for media and interaction meant that learning experiences with the PLATO system were restricted to drill and practice approaches.

The mainframe systems of the 1970’s severely confined access locations because the systems were expensive and complex, and were only available for installation within larger organizations. It was the emergence of the personal computer in the 1980’s that placed access to computer based learning within the reach of the general population, in their own homes, and made it possible for more educational institutions to acquire the technology. With increasing technical sophistication of the personal computer the ability to produce highly interactive and media rich computer based content became a reality in the early 1990’s. It became possible to present content on a digital platform that supported the integrated use of various media (audio, video, still images, animation, text), and the capacity to support sophisticated user interactions. This mode of presenting content became known as ‘interactive multimedia’. The advent of the CD-ROM, with its cheap and high storage capacity, enabled the distribution of interactive multimedia content to a wide audience.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Zone of Proximal Development: According to Vygotsky (1978) , there exists a zone of proximal development, that is, there is a difference between what the learning can do independently and what the learner can potentially do when engaging in interaction with others (instructor of more capable peers). The role of instruction is to provide scaffolded experiences along the zone of proximal development so that the learner may advance.

Computer-Based Training: Presenting content on a computer and using ‘drill and practice’ approach to learning. Typically computer-based training includes simple interactivity such as multiple-choice exercises.

Interactivity: In the context of using computers or other digital devices, interactivity requires input from the user that triggers an output response from computer system. For example, the user submits an answer to a multiple choice quiz by clicking the selected answer (input), the system responds (output) with an image of either a tick for a correct answer or ‘x’ for incorrect answer. Interactivity may relate to either controlling movement through the content (pace or pathway), or to interaction with the content itself (e.g., manipulate a component in a simulation to see the result).

Technology: Refers to the suite of digital technologies, both existing and emerging. The suite includes laptop and desktop computers, smart mobile digital devices (phones, tablets, pens), Internet based services such as social networking tools, learning management.

Cognitive Constructivism: A set of beliefs about teaching and learning stemming from the work of Piaget (1952) . The learner is viewed as an active participant in their own knowledge building process, and the teacher as a facilitator of that active knowledge building process. Constructivist views espouse to the idea of learner-centered teaching.

Socio-Constructivism: A set of beliefs about teaching and learning stems from Vygotsky’s (1978) work on social learning and the power of collaboration. Deep learning is achieved when learners share and question their understandings.

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