Teachers’ Transition into a 1:1 Laptop Environment: A Longitudinal Case Study of Four Science Teachers over 5 Years

Simon Crook, Manjula Sharma, Rachel Wilson

Abstract


This paper is the final in a multi-phase study exploring the impact of 1:1 laptops in Australian high schools since the Digital Education Revolution of 2008. The overall study tracked the deployment and use of the laptops in the sciences in 16 high schools, collecting various data over five years. The research data is drawn together to report on additional in-depth qualitative follow-up interviews with four teachers, specialising in chemistry, physics, biology and senior school science, who participated in every element of the overall study. Thus, a rich description is provided in the form of longitudinal case studies for these four teachers. Transformational shifts in teachers’ confidence are evident; and there are substantial differences and changes over time in the ways laptops are used (e.g. spreadsheets, word processing, internet research and simulations). Many of the reported activities involve lower-order skills and thinking and thus present as lost opportunities for higher-order learning. However, the teachers’ use is consistent with syllabus requirements which provide few, or in some cases no direction, toward higher-order activities. A recurrent theme from teachers is that students are more confident than their teachers, often making suggestions for activity resources and trouble-shooting. Thus, implementation of the laptops involved renegotiation of the power dynamics of the classroom, and re-invention of the teacher as a facilitator of thinking and independent learning. Further research is needed to examine these shifts, which are not acknowledged in technology education theory; but which undoubtedly have far reaching ramifications for the future of education.

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