The diffusion of electronic technologies and the dialectic of educational reform *policy: The shaping of teachers' social visions
Karen Ann Ferneding, The University of Texas at Austin, United States
Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin . Awarded
This qualitative study suggests that the current incarnation of a “technological fix” approach to educational reform both reflects and exploits a constructed and unquestioning cultural belief in the power of information technologies. This factor is considered with regards to how educational reform discourse expresses a broader social discourse of social vision and how the landscape of this social vision has been narrowed by policy elite's “discourse of inevitability” expressed as technological determinism.
Examination of the literature suggests that a dialectic exists between the functionalist and technocentric discourse of policy elites and that of an alternative discourse offered by the critics of policy elites that emphasizes values related to social justice and equity. The fundamental assumptions embodied within current educational reform discourse were examined through in-depth interviews with teachers and administrators from a rural middle school and an inner city urban elementary school located in central Texas. The schools' individual stories offer a detailed account of their reform efforts. The middle school's reform program was technology-driven while the elementary school's reforms focused on building community solidarity. Thus, the schools' reform programs reflected the dialectic of educational reform policy.
A comparative analysis revealed that although the individual schools had very different reform aims, the informants shared very similar concerns related to systemic economic and social issues which further indicated the perception that the crisis in education reflected a deeper social crisis. Although most of the informants believed that the infusion of technology into schools was inevitable, their social visions reflected a “technological pessimism” and indicated their rejection of policy elites techno-utopian social vision and a technology-driven educational reform policy. Teachers who identified themselves as technology “trail blazers,” however, generally adopted policy elites' social vision.
It is suggested that the areas of curriculum research, teacher education, policy making and Instructional Technology consider seriously the nature of teachers' social visions and their vision making. It is also recommended that educators approach technology adoption as a curriculum issue and that they use a deliberative approach to technology adoption, such as the curriculum adoption framework developed by Joseph Schwab.
Ferneding, K.A. The diffusion of electronic technologies and the dialectic of educational reform *policy: The shaping of teachers' social visions. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, The University of Texas at Austin.
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