Damian Bebell at firstname.lastname@example.org
The baseline data collection (Spring 2008) of the Laptop for Learning initiative will document teachers existing use of technology for a wide variety of educational purposes across all of Boston Public Schools 5,400 teachers. In addition, the survey will document teaching and learning conditions across Boston schools and measure teacher attitudes and beliefs towards technology—providing a rich database to explore what factors and conditions relate to teachers adoption and use of a variety of technology applications in their teaching. In short, the current BPS initiative provides a unique and valuable opportunity to empirically investigate how teachers are broadly using educational technology, document baseline practices so later research can explore how teachers' practices changed over time after teacher laptops were provided, and determine what factors are impacting teachers' decisions to adopt and use technology.
Accordingly, three general categories of empirical evidence will be generated from the statistical analyses of the baseline teacher survey data: 1) measuring teachers' use of technology, 2) creating baseline measures for documenting changes in teacher practices over time, and 3) exploring factors related to teachers' technology use. Each of these categories is discussed below.
Measuring Teachers' Use of Technology
Despite decades of active technology integration into American schools, there is still surprisingly little empirical information documenting how teachers are currently using professional technology. The evaluation team's past work has demonstrated that the challenges of accurately measuring a wide variety of technology use can be overcome through progressive survey design and analyses. The current evaluation design will yield a wealth of data on how teachers are using technology for a wide variety of educational purposes. Specific results will empirically document how frequently teachers employ different technology applications in their professional activities. Annual survey results will include measures of the frequency for which BPS teachers use technology for:
In addition, the teacher survey will also contain measures of teachers' current pedagogical practices, attitude and beliefs, technology access, and measures of school climate and leadership. Results from these non-technology survey items will undoubtedly prove valuable to both Apple Computer and the BPS administration in understanding a variety of teacher experiences and perceptions. For example, the baseline survey data will contain empirical results concerning BPS teachers' experience and perceptions of their work and their school, teachers' access to technology resources, teachers' home technology access and use, and teacher's attitude towards technology.
Creating Baseline Measures for Documenting Changes in Teacher Practices
Although the current evaluation plan is chiefly concerned with documenting existing (i.e baseline) practices and learning conditions across Boston Public Schools 5,400 teachers, it is expected that the data collected during the Spring 2008 teacher survey will provide a valuable baseline for determining how practices may change in light of the Laptops for Learning Initiative.
Exploring Factors Related to Teachers' Technology Use
In addition to measuring teacher practices across Boston's 145 schools and providing baseline data to later explore how technology use and educational practices change as a result of the Laptops for Learning initiative, the current evaluation will empirically investigate the factors that relate to teachers' adoption and subsequent use of various educational technologies. As many policy makers and educational leaders have encouraged teachers to more fully embrace technology to improve teaching and learning, an emerging body of literature addresses what factors impede or encourage teachers' use of technology. Within the teacher survey, a number of questions will be culled from the literature that will prompt teachers to reflect on their pedagogical practices, their home use and past experiences with technology, and teachers' attitudes, beliefs, and comfort towards technology. In addition, demographic information will also be used to explore relationships with how teachers use technology and teachers':
In addition, the relationship between student characteristics and various uses of technology will also be documented through the survey including the:
Taken collectively, these proposed analyses will illuminate the frequency with teachers use technology and how different technology uses may be mitigated or related to a wide variety of personal, professional and demographic considerations. For example, these analyses will provide empirical data concerning the specific qualities of teachers who choose to adopt and frequently use a wide of technology resources. Similarly, analyses will explore any shared qualities of those teachers who do not regularly use technology. In summary, such analyses will provide Apple computer, BPS leadership, and the greater educational community with a much richer understanding on what factors may relate to technology use and how teaching and learning may be affected by educational technology.