Shock of the new

Teachers in many schools will tell you they are running hard just to stand still as they attempt to adopt new technologies for learning.  It is a real struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of change that defines the digital age. Often, this is a bewildering process, and one which many teachers try to avoid. And yet, with a clear framework or roadmap for adoption, many of the challenges of adopting new technology can be met, and many of the fears teachers have can be assuaged.

Mandinach and Cline (1994) identified four distinct phases of adoption of new technology in schools. In the first phase, known as survival, teachers struggle to define what they wish to achieve with the new technology, and attempt to learn how to use it effectively to support pedagogy. Often, schools make the mistake of purchasing new technology before they have fully considered the reasons they need it. This suggests that the survival phase could be shortened if forethought went into the design of learning, before technology was procured.

The second phase of adoption is known as mastery, and involves teachers moving beyond the survival phase and into a phase where they start to apply the technology to meaningful and authentic learning contexts. During this phase, the technology should become transparent to the users - that is, it should begin to be used without significant cognitive energy.

The third phase, impact, is evaluative, and requires users to apraise the extent to which the technology is being effective . It also involves an assessment of how well teachers and learners are coping with any new issues or challenges that may have arisen during the implementation of the new tools.

The final phase, referred to as innovation, is where teachers have developed enough expertise to begin experimenting with new and innovative ways to use the technology. This can be a particularly creative phase, and often gives rise to the incorporation of even newer technologies, or the development of new pedagogical techniques. Venezky (2004) suggested that this final phase is recognisable by the number of restructured learning activities that occur within the classroom and the extent to which these enhance or extend best practice. Schools that are in the fourth phase of adoption are generally staffed by teachers who feel free to adapt technology to their own particular styles of teaching.

[Adpated from John, P. D. and Wheeler, S. (2009) The Digital Classroom: Harnessing technology for the future. Abingdon: Routledge/David Fulton. (p 99).]

Venezky, R. L. (2004) Technology in the classroom: Steps toward a new vision. Education, Communication and Information, 4 (1), 3-21.
Mandanach, E. B. and Cline, H. F. (1994) Classroom dynamics: Implementing a technology based learning environment. Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Image by David Wright

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Shock of the new by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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ORAC said…
What about the phase where teachers are keen to use but, for example the remote servers aren't up to it? Teachers and students become frustrated and have to plan for the technology they want to use not to be working sufficiently. I've been through that stage at a number of schools.
Steve Wheeler said…
Yes, indeed - what about them? I would suggest that this still fits into the survival stage of the process. Although the technology failure is out of the teacher's control, the struggle to use the technology within constraints continues.
mvallance1234 said…
The ACOT (Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow) longitudinal study identified 5 phases as Entry - Adoption - Adaption - Appropriation - Invention. This was way back in 1985 to 1995. See Sandholtz, J.M., Ringstaff, C. & Dwyer, D.C. (1997). Teaching with technology: creating student-centered classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press.

In our teacher training we focus upon the change students encounter themselves as they experience technology for learning. Also, as the teachers and students develop through phases, so does the use of the technology. Then there's the interplay with the school as an institution and how the school's values and culture may also change. And let's forget a very important change agent - the leader/ Head.

It is indeed a shock. It's complicated. .. but so is life, and it's wonderful.
trishbrrm said…
It can be difficult for older teachers and keeping up with the kids is a challenge for many. There's been some great schemes established where students identified as expert users act as peer support for other students, and also provide support for teachers.
@caroljallen said…
All of those phases assume that the teacher is in control of the technology to be used and its application to the task. Does this need to be the case? I don't think so. We should be in control of the teaching and learning, of the objectives, of the intended outcome and may well use technology that we are comfortable with to show one way of achieving this...BUT we all learn differently, we all have different levels of comfort with differing technology and its applications. If students have ideas, expertise and enthusiasm to bring something else to the activity, we should be able to look at this, understand what it will achieve (even if we dont fully grasp how it will do this) and enable them to try and then evaluate. I cannot keep up with all the options, apps, techniques and kit and have a good working knowledge of each...not because of my age (yes I am an oldie) but because the rate of development is so fast. However to constrain learners to that which I am comfortable with would not be to support them to become effective and independent adults. I just keep learning from them, from my PLN (love social networking for this) and from my own attempts!
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks Mike - much of the challenge of being a teacher is to be able to keep up with trends and changes as they happen. That is one of the main reasons I chose to teach at university.
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks for your comments Trish, and I agree. Those teachers who are stong enough in their professional identity to occasionally admit that they don't know, and turn to their students for help are actually putting themselves in a stronger position in my view.
Steve Wheeler said…
You hit the nail on the head Carol. It's not about the technology, it's about the learning, and teachers are pedagogy experts not technologists. I think the central issue is how comfortable a teacher is in their own professional identity, as I have suggested in my response to Trish, above. If teachers had to be experts in every area, there wouldn't be too many of us still in the profession :)
Carol Allen said…
Exactly, thus I fundamentally disagree with the four stages...time for a rewrite according to @caroljallen methinks!

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