Davis, N. (2008). How may teacher learning be promoted for educational renewal with it? In J. Voogt and G. Knezek (Eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education (pp. 507–520). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Springer.
Technology is changing the ability to access information and way it is used, therefore is a catalyst for change in 21st century education. Davis takes an ecological perspective to change in education due to technology, identifying a series of nested ecosystems from the global perspective to the classroom. She has mapped a number of categories that influence the change in education due to technology, namely “commercial, political, bureaucratic and professional” influences (Davis, 2008, p. 509).
At the global level, change in education due to technology adoption in one country can influence change in other countries. Multi-national technology companies can influence what goes on in the classroom through their commercial operations and own educational needs. According to Davis, technology corporations can influence governments to develop strategic visions and plans for the utilisation of technology in education, resulting in benefits for all. Davis also identifies change at regional level as educational organisations utilise technologies and collaborate to connect classrooms and share resources.
Within the school, Davis talks of the “keystone species”, those people who most disrupt the traditional classroom practice through the introduction of technology. Davis contends that technology adoption starts with the teachers with outward stimulation to adoption by other teachers until integration is achieved. The degree to which that integration is achieved depends upon support (eg. opportunities to explore and training) and, if the school has a strategic plan, change is more effective. It also depends upon the level of IT coordination with people in that area of responsibility having the ability “to spread or retard innovation” (p. 513).
At the classroom level, IT adoption will occur if the teacher identifies a personal need that technology can address. In many cases the teacher is the leader of pedagogical innovation with technology. Its adoption and evolution depends on two factors; teacher as advocate for change and the characteristics of the technology itself, for example its complexity. Ultimately, the article’s purpose is to show that there are many variables in the diffusion of technology in education and it is a complex issue.
Davis talks about the problem of equitable access to resources in education. Utilising technology in online learning is an attempt to provide flexible, equitable learning opportunities. However, in my context it can potentially lead to inequitable situations as face-to-face students generally have access to more academic support than distance students. It is important that student support services like Learning Services ‘catch up’ to find ways to meet the needs of this growing cohort of students.
I can identify CPIT as having reached the mature stage where the institution has a strategic plan to transform educational practice and further embed IT into teaching pedagogy with the creation of dedicated ‘technology-enhanced’ learning spaces, and in its partnership with other tertiary institutions to extend the programmes delivered, both face-to-face and online.
The article helped me identify that IT coordination is very formal at CPIT, with a steering group that brings together IT experts, managers and educational developers. Certainly individual tutors, as the ‘keystone species’ can introduce IT innovations but it is also true that adoption is controlled by that ‘IT coordination’ group. A recent example of that was the work done in my department to develop a database to improve our reporting capability, only to be told it would not be supported by IT itself. Without that support, it can never get off the ground.