Exploring teachers' experiences of educational technology: a critical study of tools and systems

Clapham, Andrew (2012) Exploring teachers' experiences of educational technology: a critical study of tools and systems. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.



In this project I explore two teachers’ experiences, as ‘key informants’, of educational technology in a UK inner-city comprehensive school. I examine the meditational role of technology in these teachers’ activities and suggest that such an examination can improve what we understand about educational technology at the school. I discuss how technology is socially shaped and therefore not neutral, and of technologically mediated change being ecological change (Postman, 1992). I examine discourses of ‘techno-romanticism’ which locate technology as a transformational panacea for educational challenges - discourses which seemingly ascribe technology its own agency. This thesis challenges such viewpoints, and the technological hegemony they support, by examining technology not as state-of-that-art but as the ‘state-of-the-actual’ (Selwyn, 2010a).

The project was an in-depth examination of the experiences of two key informants using a case study, ethnographic research design, with interview and observational methodologies generating qualitative data. I have positioned the project as both critical in its examination of technology, and sociocultural in its epistemology – in particular drawing on Sociocultural psychology (Wertsch 1991) and Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as the theoretical framework, and ‘activity theory’ (Engeström, 1987b, 1999a) as the analytical lens. The analysis has two stages – the first being a ‘grounded theory’ (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) coding and categorisation of contextual data; the second the modelling of activity systems, and the identification of contradictions and conflicts in those systems.

My analysis is of the key informants’ experiences, provides a reading of how technology mediates not just the ‘what’ of these teachers’ activities, but also the ‘how’ and ‘why’. I challenge the dominant discourses and assumptions of the inevitability of technological improvement. In doing so, I call for the educational technology research community to be both sympathetic toward what technology means for these teachers’ professional identities, and critical of overly technocentric school environments.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Gates, P.
Fisher, A.M.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Educational technology, high school teachers, Great Britain
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
ID Code:2650
Deposited By:DR Andrew Clapham
Deposited On:04 Oct 2012 11:18
Last Modified:04 Oct 2012 11:18

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