An Integral Analysis of Teachers' Attitudes and Perspectives on the Integration of Technology in Teaching

An Integral Analysis of Teachers' Attitudes and Perspectives on the Integration of Technology in Teaching

David Ikenouye (University of Calgary, Canada) and Veronika Bohac Clarke (University of Calgary, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2953-8.ch005
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Abstract

This chapters explores teachers' attitudes toward, and integration of, technology from multiple perspectives. In order to gain a rich and contextualized understanding of how teachers genuinely use technology in the classroom, Wilber's (2006) Integral methodological pluralism was used as a framework to orient the study, to organize the research questions and to provide the conceptual framework for the research methodology. Four research questions were addressed in this study: (1) What is the influence of policies on teachers' use of technology? (2) What influence does the technology infrastructure have on teachers using technology? (3) What do teachers believe and think about technology? (4) What is the technological culture that teachers' experience? This chapter is an overview of the analysis of the differing and sometimes conflicting practices, beliefs and views on the adoption of technology in the classroom, from the four quadrant perspectives of the Integral Model.
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Introduction

Educational technology is often central to government educational policy, because it is considered to be key to school reform and teacher improvement, in order to meet the demands of the knowledge economy and keep up with global competitiveness. The social use of technology has permeated the classroom and school districts have largely abandoned the electronic device banning policies. Instead, teachers are asked to coopt technologies for educational use.

Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP) offers a mixed methods research framework for understanding the demands upon teachers in the integration of technology for educational use, and for faithfully describing their true experiences in the classroom. This Integrally informed research study of the multiple perspectives of educational technology attempted to bring clarity to the multiple domains in the field and can be used to understand the pragmatic decisions teachers make in integrating technology in their classrooms with greater precision and understanding.

While a comprehensive description and discussion of the Integral Model follows in subsequent sections, for the purpose of understanding the approach to the research problem and to the organization of the literature review, the fundamental element of the Integral Model is briefly introduced here. The Integral Model, also referred to as AQAL, has been in development, since the 1970s, by Ken Wilber. We suggest Wilber, (2000, 2000a, and 2007), as starting points for a big picture understanding of the model. The model is based on Wilber’s observation, that there are, historically and currently, two basic ways in which most humans apprehend the world around them- these are the dichotomies of inside/outside and singular/plural. By superimposing these two dichotomies, Wilber obtained 4 basic perspectives, which he charted as intersecting quadrants. The four basic perspectives in the four quadrants are as follows:

  • UL (Upper Left) = Singular + Inside = (individual interior perspectives)

  • UR (Upper Right) = Singular + Outside = (individual exterior perspectives)

  • LL (Lower Left) = Plural + Inside = (collective interior perspectives)

  • LR (Lower Right) = Plural + Outside = (collective exterior perspectives)

Thus for a given problem, there are 4 basic perspectives from which to observe it: UL – the subjective experiences and feelings of individuals about the problem; UR – the objective observations of individual aspects of the problem; LL – the intersubjective experiences of groups of people involved with the problem; and LR – the interobjective observations of systems and their influences on the problem. In terms of the specific problem being investigated in this study – teachers’ adoption of technology - we can see UL as the teachers’ personal feelings and beliefs based on their experiences; UR as the observations of teacher behavior around technology use and adoption; LL as the teacher culture in a school and its impact on technology adoption; and finally LR as the global, provincial and district school system influences on teachers’ adoption of technology. Wilber’s view is that in order to have a complete picture of a problem, the researcher must view it from all four perspectives. He warns that ‘quadrant absolutism’ – using only one perspective to explain the problem, will lead to skewed interpretations of the problem and ultimately to skewed policies at the system level. The literature review below, is organized according to the 4 quadrant perspectives. The remaining components of the AQAL model are discussed in a subsequent section below.

Context

Computer technology has been heralded as the most important development in 21st century education. Governments and organizations throughout the world have identified technology as a significant contributor to addressing skills and learning needs (Alberta Education, Andrew, Dach, & Lemke, 2013; Atkins et al., 2010; World Economic Forum, 2015) . In practice, thus far teachers have not universally integrated technology into the classroom nor have there been dramatic improvements in learning outcomes where technology has been implemented.

Depending on context, the availability of hardware and software may support or impede its use in the classroom. Teachers may hold personal beliefs and attitudes about its efficacy. Teachers also face cultural and political pressure to use technologies that are believed to be key in 21st century learning and global competitiveness.

Key Terms in this Chapter

TPACK: An acronym for t echnological p edagogical a nd c ontent k nowledge. It is the type of specific and situated intersection of the knowledge of technology, curriculum content and pedagogical practice needed by teachers in specific contexts, to integrate technology in the teaching of students in the classroom.

Alberta Education: The provincial government department responsible for K to 12 education in the province. The Minister of Education delegates his authority to run schools, to the elected school boards, through The School Act legislation and through the provision of funding to schools.

Learning and Technology Policy Framework (LTPF): Alberta Education (provincial) policy document that outlines the role of technology in education for school authorities. It is not an official curriculum or program of studies, but it carries the force of high level policies that direct school authorities in the use of technology for student learning.

Educational Technology: The Association for Educational Communications and Technology’s current definition: the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.

AQAL: Acronym for all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types. It is shorthand for Ken Wilber’s Integral Model, which asserts that human phenomena, to be apprehended fully, must be considered from all perspectives, as defined by the quadrants of AQAL. The quadrants describe human context. Contextual influences from the quadrants co-arise and interact with each other. The developmental component of AQAL helps to analyze the responses of individuals and groups to their environments.

Hype Cycle: Created by the Gartner IT consulting company the hype cycle graphically represents the trigger, development, adoption, and maturational use of emerging technologies longitudinally over time. The hype refers to the visibility afforded the technology.

Integral Theory: A trasdisciplinary approach to studying human phenomena from multiple perspectives. While a number of prominent thinkers used the integral approach, there had not been a codified theoretical framework prior to Wilber’s AQAL.

Technology: Any device or software employed by teachers and students for learning. The devices are primarily computers such as desktops and laptops but are increasingly tablets such as iPads and smartphones. Hardware can also refer to interactive white boards, wireless access points and wired Internet ports.

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