CHALLENGES IN INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY INTO EDUCATION

STRUCTURED ABSTRACT

Despite significant amount of investment there seems to be obstacles to technology integration in education. In order to overcome the obstacles to successful, effective, and efficient implementation of educational technology, stakeholders should set sight on teachers. Teachers are tasked not only with introducing new technologies to learners but also with developing and delivering instruction that are designed with use of those technologies in mind. Moreover, as in Turkey, in most of the countries, governments are the most influential actors in education. A solution to the challenges technology integration is facing should not be designed without taking the government officials and administrators in national education establishment into account. In order to overcome obstacles, those obstacles should be identified. Identifying the problem is the most important step in problem analysis and decision making (Kepner & Tregoe, 2013; Lunenburg, 2010). Therefore, in order to contribute to the scientific understanding of integration of technology into education, a survey was conducted on professionals who were selected by Turkish Ministry of National Education (TMNE) on the basis of their expertise in their areas of responsibility and who attended the 19th National Education Council to identify the perceived obstacles to technology integration in Turkey. Associations of the categories of perceived obstacles with demographic variables were further investigated for exploring whether personal and professional differences can predict how obstacles to technology integration are perceived.

The study was designed as a quantitative research employing the environmental scanning method. Environmental scanning is a research method developed by Francis Joseph Aguilar and is used as part of strategic planning processes “in which emerging trends, changes and issues are regularly monitored and evaluated as to their likely impact” (Preble, Rau, & Reichel, 1988, p. 5). After the conclusion of 19th National Education Council, TMNE arranged a workshop on the goals and priorities of national education. From among the faculty members, ministerial and school-level administrators, and experienced teachers, TMNE selected and invited 147 experienced professionals as experts in their respective fields. After the conclusion of the workshop, all attendees were personally invited to participate in the survey. Out of 147 attendees, 117 participated in the study (N=117, 80%). Of the 117 participants, 18 were female (15.4%) and 99 were male (84.6%). Remarkably, 85 of participants (72.65%) had administrative duties during their carrier while the number of participants who are currently administrators was 64.

Data was collected by a paper-based survey consisting of a demographics questionnaire and an opinion questionnaire. Demographics questionnaire was for collecting basic demographics information, educational level, and information regarding respondents’ career. Opinion questionnaire was developed by the researcher to elicit views of expert educators on obstacles to technology integration. It was based on the opinions of the attendees of the workshop who were selected by TMNE as experts on their fields. Attendees expressed a total of 21 issues as “obstacle to integration of technology into education”. Researcher prepared a paper-based survey questionnaire consisting of 21 Likert-type 5-point multiple choice each representing one of those issues. Responses were “Strongly disagree”, “Disagree”, “Undecided”, “Agree”, and “Strongly agree”. In addition to descriptive analysis on items of the questionnaires, a factor analysis was used to investigate whether perceived obstacles to technology integration fall into categories. It should be noted that, since the questionnaire was not intended for measuring psychological constructs, the factor analysis was not aimed for revealing latent variables representing psychological constructs. Rather, it was aimed for categorizing the items covariating in clusters. Overall, five categories were extracted from the questionnaire: Undersupply (U), Insufficiency of Resources (IR), Insufficiency of Infrastructure (INF), Negative Psychological State (NPS), Difficulty of Newer Technology (DNT). Finally, association between demographic variables and latent variables were analyzed by Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient.

Analysis of the data revealed that means of 21 items ranged between 2.86 and 4.11. Item 19 yielded the highest mean of 4.11: “Lack of communication between educator, school, and universities”. Item 20 was the one with the second greatest mean with the expression “Insufficiency of in-service training programs on effective use of information technologies”. The lowest mean value (2.86) was obtained for Item 8: “Lack of some features of older technologies in newer ones”. Remarkably, second lowest mean was calculated for Item 9 which was also questioning the difference between newer and older technologies: “New technologies are not as simple and easy to understand as older technologies”.

As a category of perceived obstacles, U yielded the greatest mean (18.84). Items 15 and 17 were referring to lack of technological solutions that teachers can use. Item 19 which was the one with the greatest mean among all items was refereeing to lack of communication between educator, school, and universities. Item 20 was mentioning in-service training and finally, Item 21 was referring to content support for computers. IR was the category with the second greatest sample mean (17.96). INF was the intermediate category among five perceived obstacles group (10.61). NPS and DNT were the categories with the second lowest and lowest mean values, respectively. Apparently, educators do not see negative attitude towards, incompetence for, and difficulty in using technology as significant obstacles to technology integration.

Remarkably, there was no correlation between sex, age, level of education, job position, year of experience in non-educational careers and any of the categories of perceived obstacles. On the other hand, analyses with Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient produced significant results for two of the demographic variables. There was a strong, negative correlation between year of experience in teaching and Insufficiency of Resources, which was statistically significant (r = -.254, n = 108, p = .008). Additionally, there was also a strong, negative correlation between year of experience in educational administration and Negative Psychological State, which was statistically significant (r = -.247, n = 84, p = .024). Both coefficients were negative signifying that perception of those two issues to be obstacles decreases as the year of experience in teaching or educational administration increases.

The purpose of the research was to investigate the opinions of professionals, who were selected by TMNE as experts in their respective fields, about the obstacles to integration of technology into education and to ascertain the associations between perceived obstacles and individual differences such as sex, age, level of education, and experience. Initial analysis revealed that experienced educators who work as teachers, school administrators, ministerial administrators, university faculty or education inspectors seem to unanimously think that hardware itself or novelty of it does not constitute an obstacle to technology integration. Participants’ opinions revealed that, regarding technology integration, it’s not the gadgets but the knowledge, information, and the processes which make the difference. Remarkably, supporting the research by Inan and Lowther (2010), there was no significant association between demographic variables and categories of perceived obstacles with the greatest, intermediate, and lowest mean values. Nonexistence of any relationship signifies that the perceptions of obstacles are stable irrespective of participants’ sex, age, level of education, job position, and year of experience in teaching, administration or other careers.

In parallel with the findings of Fischer et al. (2018), in-service training was the most strongly agreed issue of which insufficiency leads to obstacles to technology integration. Results indicate that content to use with technology is more important to educators compared with the technology itself (Keser & Çetinkaya, 2013). It should be noted that, knowledge and skills that teachers demand from in-service training is also partly included in the curriculum of teacher training institutions. This study supported previous research (Jones & Madden, 2002; Mims, Polly, Shepherd, & Inan, 2006; O’Dwyer, Russell, & Bebel, 2004) reporting that “new graduates have more knowledge on technology integration … because teachers who recently graduated from a teacher preparation program would be more technology competent … and more prepared to integrate technology into classroom instruction” (Inan & Lowther, 2010, p.147) because of incorporation of technology into teacher training (Kirschner & Selinger, 2003). Education provided to pre-service teachers in those institutions may be improved to match the changing and growing needs of schools (Keser & Çetinkaya, 2013). Additionally, teacher training institutions may also provide education for the technologies that TMNE currently uses. Technologies currently in use such as e-School, EBA, MEBBIS, and DYS may be included in the curriculum of teacher training programs. Moreover, in parallel with the report of Stecher et al. (2018b), teachers seem to expect rewards for using time consuming technologies which demand further effort for learning and developing competence. Hence, an incentive system may help improve motivation for engagement in technology integration.

On the other hand, as argued by Dede (2011a, 2011b), sufficiency of technological and physical infrastructure is of vital importance for technology to be successfully integrated into education. As reported by Dede (2011b), teachers and schools should be provided with a habitat of technologies that flawlessly work together so that technology itself does not hinder instruction. Rather than a series of gadgets on the teacher’s desk, technology should be conceptualized as a “solution” to the system of instruction. An effectively working system comprised of infrastructure, content, pre-service and in-service training, incentives, and harmony between technology and curriculum (Okita & Jamalian, 2011; Topuz & Kaptan, 2017) may bring investment in educational technology to a successful conclusion. As experience in educational administration increases, perception of negative attitude and incompetence as obstacles to technology integration decreases. This finding indicates that negative attitude and incompetence may be overcome by a well-designed system of educational technology solution combined with support of teachers by training, content and incentives. Hence, a habitat of knowledge, information, and the processes are key to succeeding with educational technology.

Keywords: Educational Technology, Technology Integration, Teacher Training, In-service Training, Educational Content.

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