|Australasian Journal of Educational Technology
2006, 22(4), 455-473.
The case for more technology in schools is compelling. The leverage for a school based solution is traceable to the Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling (AEC, 1989), namely that students will develop skills in 'information processing and computing'. Schools have wrestled with this 'integration challenge' since 1989. This paper is a snapshot of the ICT efforts of 18 regional schools as they come to terms with the challenge of ICT integration. Building on the work of Lim et al (2003), and the JISC (2003) MLE benchmark study, this paper profiles what ICT integration looks like in schools since AEC (1989), identifying 'administrative imperatives' as the key factors underpinning ICT integration decisions in schools.
In terms of capacity management, the paper identifies those who plan, design, develop and build school ICT infrastructure. Each school participating in this study is assigned an integration score, identifying them as low, medium or high integration schools based on ICT integration efforts. Evidence from this study indicates a great deal of ICT integration development and activity taking place in schools at all integration levels. The good news is that national and state education initiatives over the last 17 years have delivered an integration (of sorts) of ICTs into compulsory education. The sad news is that the question of ICT pedagogy remains largely unaddressed in our schools.
The cry for more technology in schools is deeply connected here; the origins of a school based solution are traceable to the Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling (AEC, 1989), which included the goal that students develop skills in 'information processing and computing'. In 2005, MCEETYA released its Joint Statement on Education and Training in the Information Economy, proclaiming a new blueprint for ICTs to 'empower' teachers and raise the standards of students' learning outcomes. The 16 year period between AEC (1989) and MCEETYA (2005) is a telling one; espoused views on computing technologies and student learning shifted from an initial preoccupation with the teaching of computer skills, to focus more on issues of ICT access for all students (MCEETYA, 1999), the relevance of a 'whole school' approach to ICT teaching and learning (Curriculum Corporation, 2003), and more recently to issues of school based change management and teacher professional development (Henderson, 2004). If we listen closely to this shifting 'learnscape', we can discern a quiet mantra: in terms of ICTs in schooling, more is definitely better.
In Learning in an online world (MCEETYA, 2000) evidence of a governance approach to integrating 'more ICTs in schools' can be found. Iterations of what it means to integrate ICTs are rolled out as a suite of statements and frameworks including the Online Content Strategy (2004); Learning Architecture Framework (2003); Research Strategy (2003); and Bandwidth Action Plan (2003). Notably, a Pedagogy and a Leadership and Professional Learning Strategy (2005) earmark a new direction in ICT statements for schools. This is notable for two reasons; (1) until this release, pedagogy has been a silent space in the evolution of ICTs in schools, and; (2) leadership has for the first time been problematised in the ICTs in schools debate.
This 'user' mindset positions school based users of ICTs within a broader administrative set of relations, encompassing service level relationships based on identified client needs. The problem with being an ICT client in contemporary schools is that clients are 'done to' and 'done for'; they are not expected to impose themselves on the technology, but are much more expected to have the technology imposed on them. Technology is at risk of becoming utilitarian; ICT integration in practice means gravitation to prescribed technological norms of use and performance, and an abeyance and deference to user protocols and proprietary ICT desktop standards. Certainly, there will be more people in schools using technology but this use will be patterned rather than inspired, reactive rather than proactive, and reproductive rather than creative (Cuban, 2001). In < I>Telling Tales out of School: Why ICT is Problematic, Mark Brown (2004) of Massey University (NZ) challenges this context of ICT 'use' in schools, pointing to ICT integration as multifactorial, in so far as it must involve:
|Type of school||Primary school||37.5|
|Affiliation of school||State high school (SHS)||43.75|
|State primary school (SPS)||31.25|
|Non-state high school (NSHS)||18.75|
|Non-state primary school (NSPS)||6.25|
The survey instrument comprised eight distinct domains (Table 2), each domain with defined question sets, numbering 22 question sets/variables in total. These questions involved both quantitative (rankings, ratings, forecasts) and qualitative (open ended questions and diagrams) data moves, in a bid to explicate ICT integration efforts in these 18 schools. In total, the instrument delivered 1912 data bytes per school over the eight questionnaire domains (Table 2) in response to 22 question sets regarding ICT practices within participating schools.
|Question domain||Question sets/variables||1||2||3||4|
|Network use, extent and health||Monitoring of ICT use/performance||Y||Y||Y||X|
|Teacher integration ICTs - curriculum||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Teacher/learner access to ICTs||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|ICTs in learning and teaching||ICT leadership - teaching||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Pupil ICT proficiency||Y||Y||Y||X|
|Learner use of ICTs||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|ICTs and higher order thinking||Y||Y||X||Y|
|ICTs school admin||ICT leadership - school administration||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|ICT school management issues||Collegial sharing - ICT experiences||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|ICT decision management issues||School ICT policy||Y||Y||X||Y|
|ICT program review||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Staff involvement ICT planning||Y||Y||X||Y|
|Technical issues/ standards||ICT systems embeddedness||Y||X||Y||X|
|Systems integration||ICT systems connectivity||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|ICTs and learner collaboration||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Teacher ICT collaborations||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Staff training and development||Staff ICT integration skills||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Teaching- role of ICTs in higher order thinking||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Staff ICT skills development opportunities||Y||Y||Y||Y|
The basis for ranking was the relative level of integration of teaching, learning and administrative systems within the school, as reported in survey outcomes. School responses to the survey were used to derive an 'integration score' (Lim et al, 2003) for each current school situation (Table 4). The integration score was expressed as a percentage score, based on the sum of the individual variables over the maximum possible score. Each variable was scored from 1 (low level integration) to 5 (high level integration) over 22 question sets (see Table 3), and the individual values were summed to give an integration score (Table 4). There were 22 question sets in the survey, giving a maximum score of 110. The percentage score was used to rank and band participating schools. Means and standard deviations were calculated for each school across the 22 components of the study. The resultant integration scores were then banded into three distinct groups (low, medium and high levels) of ICT/systems integration based on current school situations. As seen in Table 3, all high integration schools are secondary schools; medium integration schools and low integration schools contained a mix of state and non-state high schools and primary schools, with the latter predominantly primary schools. A one way independent ANOVA was used to ascertain which if any of the 22 component questions (cited in Table 2) were significant as variables in identifying low, medium and high integration schools.
|Low ICT/ systems integration||Medium ICT/ systems integration||High ICT/ systems integration|
|ICT integration score 70- upwards||Swanfield SHS|
St Maddies NSHS
South Park SHS
|ICT integration score 55-69||Canes SHS|
Fudge Hill SPS
|ICT integration score 54- below||St Throms NSPS|
Pitta Park PS
Topity Bay SHS
St Molly's NSHS
Figure 1: Comparison of means - 22 aspects of ICT/systems integration derived from Table 2.
It also identifies the factors that influence ICT decision making in schools. Results of the ANOVA confirm that 6 out of 22 variables are significant in discriminating between schools as low, medium or high integration sites. In order of effect size, these are:
Figure 2: ICT and systems development activity in the sample
Figure 3: Operational models for ICT/intranet development
Figure 4: Decision-making trees for ICT/intranet developments in schools
|Barriers||Low integration schools||Medium integration schools||High integration schools|
|Lack of time||88%||92%||56%|
|Lack of money||84%||72%||32%|
|Lack of incentives||72%||64%||56%|
|Lack of teaching staff knowledge||84%||80%||80%|
|Lack of teaching staff development||76%||88%||80%|
|Lack of support staff||88%||60%||72%|
|Current organisational structure||64%||40%||32%|
|Too many/ diffuse/ diverse standards and guidelines||32%||36%||32%|
|Too few standards and guidelines||32%||36%||28%|
Most collegiate exchange around ICTs in this study was initiated by the head of department - information technology, and enacted as school based professional development. This trend is illuminated by other significant findings in this study. Trend analysis captures a centralised view of administrative systems, processes, planning and capacity that drives the school ICT vision, placing a heavy emphasis on ICT policy adoption (F(2,15) = 3.83, p<0.05, r = 0.70); frequent ICT policy review (F(2,15) = 3.733, p<0.05, r = 0.69); leadership support for ICT led administration (F(2,15) = 3.43, p<0.05, r = 0.640); and reporting compliance through data driven core business critical functions (F(2,15) = 3.83, p<0.05, r = 0.68). That collegial exchange of ICT experiences is a key feature of local schools is incredibly positive; computer networks are inherently social networks, linking people, organisations and knowledge into an integrated framework for everyday practice (Wellman, 2001), but this connection is contingent upon the culture and setting of the school. If learning is the impetus that drives the use of technology in schools, then teachers and students ought be partners in the learning process, altering traditional paradigms of the teacher providing wisdom and the student consuming knowledge. This appears not to be the case in this study; the policy call for deeper integration of computing technologies into compulsory education (AEC 1989; State of Victoria, 2001; Department of Education, Tasmania, 2002; MCEETYA, 2003, 2005) seems to have faltered at the school site.
A reverse trend analysis supports the contention that neither teacher integration of ICTs into the curriculum, nor staff ICT skills development were contributing factors to the ICT integration rating of participating schools. In fact, none of the teaching and learning variables in this study (Table 2) are significant to school ICT integration scores, locating teaching and learning at the periphery of ICT development activity in these schools. This is a compelling finding, given the current national policy context for ICTs in schools. This trend is further exacerbated in data related to teacher and learner competence in ICTs as influencers of school ICT integration rankings. Both teacher and learner competence are directionally strong results for schools in this study; yet neither is significantly influential on school integration scores. The school focus on administration as the frame for critical ICT integration outcomes for schools is reflected in weak school leadership support for ICTs in teaching, and low innovation and experimentation with ICTs scores. Staff adoption of ICT policy, ICT program review procedures, and the degree of leadership support for ICT led administ ration has embedded ICTs in the critical business functions of each school. ICTs are part of the capacity management process of schools, and collegial exchange of ICT experiences is predicated on a model of staff PD (professional development) wherein most PD is run in house by system and school administration teams, to improve access by staff to existing ICT resources within the school.
This study reveals that each group has presumptions about change that fuel these divisions. Teachers have a liberal presumption that there is a need to invent and experiment for advancement of pedagogical ideas and this includes wanting to try new ideas with ICT tools. ICT managers, on the other hand, have a conservative presumption, where change is determined by deliberation and that services need to be proven before being implemented on a general basis. Barone and Hagner (2000) suggest that leadership is necessary to resolve the cultural tension, and that critical discussions need to 'make space' for a range of views in circumstances where not everyone agrees on what needs to be transformed, or the strategies to drive such change. In the school community, these differing tensions often reside in the one person, particularly in participating primary schools. All ICT managers in this study also double as teachers. They report having inadequate time to undertake the role of network designer and manager, but strive to establish conditions in schools which best fit everyone's needs.
Opinion varies amongst this cohort about whether teachers can bridge the gap between the culture of IT management and the culture of the pedagogical and curriculum rationales which frame teacher perspectives. At this stage, the 'gatekeeper' appears to be winning the ideological battle in schools. Data from this study suggests school based ICT coordinators have developed more of an ICT management perspective, even though their practice in their classrooms was pedagogically sound. Further, this study suggests that the existing culture of the school community is yet to host conversations about the impact of the ICT pedagogy movement on the future demands of school network designs. In all instances in this survey, the ICT HOD formed part of the membership of the school leadership group. In 87% of cases, the IT HOD is directly involved in the planning and coordination of ICT and intranet development activities in schools. In 13% of cases, no member of staff was able to account for ICT decisions that had been taken (or not taken) in relation to existing processes and systems. In each of these cases, the initiative or innovation had been the product of a staff member who had 'passed on' to another school.
High integration s chools perceived more incentives to proceed with further ICT and intranet developments, and believe they have the money and comparative resources to do it. For example, two of these schools had already engaged in external partnerships and consultations. Organisational structures in these schools are not considered to be a liability in the same way as in low integration schools, despite the realisation among many high end schools that ICT development requires a very fundamental rethink of institutional business processes and procedures. Technical constraints and standards issues were not a major priority for many schools in this study, and were therefore painted as 'less problematic' to schools, but nonetheless have deeper implications for platform interoperability across the region. The robustness of IT infrastructure and systems also emerges as a real concern as system components are integrated. Many primary schools still run dual Apple and Windows networks to provide administrative (Windows) as well curriculum (Apple) functionality, but lack the time, resources and expertise to address risks to system and data security.
All medium and low integration schools reported turnover of key ICT staff and systems in the last 3 years. While the integration scores differentiate between schools, and school ICT integration and intranet development needs, a basic typology exists here (Rogers 1995; Hagner & Schneebeck, 2000). Low integration schools report higher relative time, money, human capital, knowledge, and incentive and skills barriers than do medium and high integration schools. The scale of the integration task is clearly daunting to many schools. There is a growing awareness of how large the training and professional development needs are, not only in relation to pedagogy, curriculum change, IT skills and awareness, but also in relation to wider 'cultural change' issues, as school systems develop and roll out new systems and processes over time. At the heart of these findings is an emerging digital divide: of the low integration schools, four have an Indigenous population greater than 33% of the student group, one is an all girl Catholic secondary college, and the remaining school is a Catholic primary school. Rarely does technology appear in this study as a tool for innovation; rather schools are using technology to sustain existing patterns of schooling and its connections to social opportunity (Conlon & Simpson, 2003).
The data emerging from this project confirms a silence in our schools on the issue of pedagogical leadership in ICT teaching. What is also not apparent in participating schools is any real sense that ICTs are as yet fully embedded as interoperable and integrated strategic and operational frameworks (the limited e-learning environments utilised by schools in this study are restricted to experiments by ICT Heads of Department). All schools have an ICT development planning process, but for many this is a transparent, box ticking exercise that delivers few consumables other than central office compliance. Only in high integration schools are ICT activities included in a variety of strategic planning documents, but it is hard to identify any examples where ICTs are yet an integral part of the curriculum philosophy, policies and practice of the school.
George Siemens (2004, p6) confirms that we have been slow to recognise the impact of ICTs as a new learning tool, and even slower "to recognise the environmental changes in what it means to learn". Brown (2004) challenges us to conceive new understandings of the complexity of integration, one which would enable the social and cultural shifts required to convert local school ICT practices into a managed platform for curriculum innovation and school renewal. Much ICT decision making in schools has been referred to the IT HOD in consultation with (or to) the school management team. Diverse teams of varying viewpoints are a critical structure for completely exploring ICT integration ideas, and to date, these teams do not yet exist in schools. This opens the way for professional societies and associations to take on critical developmental roles in the formulation and lobby for future direction. Each school's ability to foster, nurture and synthesise the impact of various views of information is also critical to its survival. Low ICT integration schools in this study are already pointing to the existence of an emerging digital divide, one in which some schools will lack the infrastructure and architecture to move to a whole school approach to ICT teaching and learning, and in real terms, face the prospect of being left behind.
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|Authors: Dr Colin Baskin, School of Education, Cairns Campus, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns QLD 4870, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Williams, ACCE Fellow, Queensland Society for Information Technology in Education (QSITE), PO Box 8, Red Hill QLD 4059 Australia. Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.qsite.edu.au/
Please cite as: Baskin, C. and Williams, M. (2006). ICT integration in schools: Where are we now and what comes next? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 22(4), 455-473. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet22/baskin.html