Practicing teachers and Web 2.0 technologies: Possibilities for transformative learning
Gayle Allen, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States
Doctor of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University . Awarded
Despite the increased ubiquity of computer hardware and software in U.S. schools, a number of educational researchers contend that teacher practice remains unchanged. This qualitative case study examined five K-12 public school teachers using Web 2.0 technologies to determine if these tools prompted significant changes in perceptions of their roles in and out of the classroom. Mezirow's theory of transformative learning served as the framework for analyzing changes in participants' frames of reference. The study also examined supports and hindrances to these changes and the factors that influenced them.
Research data included background information surveys, blogs, podcasts and interviews coupled with reflective activities. Four participants underwent transformative learning experiences in the classroom, while the fifth, whose perceptions of his role were already in line with the tools, did not. In general, Web 2.0 tools connected participants to a global audience, allowed them to engage in more authentic student work, shifted them from the classroom's center, improved student performance, increased student engagement and bypassed local student performance stigmas. Three participants underwent transformative learning experiences out of the classroom with Web 2.0 use reducing their feelings of isolation, increasing professional development opportunities, allowing them to serve as resources for other educators, providing them with reflective spaces and giving them a sense of public accountability. Two participants were in emerging stages of out-of-the-classroom transformative learning experiences.
Supports for this transformation included building-level leadership, online community engagement, professional development and external attention from a global audience. Hindrances included obstructive district technology personnel and disinterested colleagues. A critical factor in out-of-classroom transformations was whether participants published blogs and/or podcasts, with contributors transforming more extensively than participants who merely consumed information.
Such findings suggest that federal education policies for teachers and students, district-sanctioned opportunities for teacher learning, teacher education programs and learning experiences for school leaders should include Web 2.0 tools. Also, district technology support structures and policies should foster teaching and learning with these technologies. Ultimately, researchers can benefit from applying Mezirow's framework to gauging changes in teacher practice, and they can draw on blog and podcast data to examine teachers' reflections on practice.
Allen, G. Practicing teachers and Web 2.0 technologies: Possibilities for transformative learning. Doctor of Education thesis, Teachers College, Columbia University.
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Md Mokter Hossain & Robert J Quinn, University of Nevada, Reno, United States
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