When Laptops Come to School: How Digital Immigrant Teachers Cope




Foote, Nancy I.

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Ten evaluative reports and two case studies have explored how a one-to-one laptop program functions in a school setting. However, little research has focused solely on teachers. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to investigate how six digital immigrant teachers coped with an education laptop innovation. Seven research questions informed this research, focusing on the impact of being a digital immigrant, problems to be solved, what teachers have stopped doing in order to use the laptops, new activities that have emerged, the perceived benefits and obstacles involved, and the laptop attributes and the program‟s implementation. In order to ensure the voices of the six participating teachers were heard, a qualitative case study approach using interviews and classroom observations was conducted, involving as well nine administrative interviews to create the case profile. One of the major assumptions in this research was that teachers, who were at least 40 years old, would have problems using student laptops. However, the label of “digital immigrant” is not a homogenous concept as the study showed the range of responses to using technology varied considerably, from almost total to very little integration. A number of innovation adoption systems have described a set of integration stages with the underlying assumption that all teachers move through these stages at various speeds and requiring a variety of support. This study has found, however, what is necessary, for a resister teacher to undertake small integration steps, is entirely different from what an innovator teacher would need. A one-size-fits-all approach based on a set of stages cannot effectively meet such teachers‟ needs. The literature on technology has described sets of characteristics for various adoption categories. This study has found three more – specificity of language, reaction to new technology, and filters for successful integration. In addition, the classroom observations have revealed four important characteristics that can play a role in integration – whether an instructional niche is present; who takes responsibility for learning; where the placement of attention occurs in instruction; and teacher beliefs about the relationship between computers and the learning process. Finally, the study has found that teachers are not actors in their classrooms. There were no inconsistencies between interview data and class observations. Likewise, the context of the high school and its corresponding laptop program were essential to understanding how these digital immigrant teachers coped with student laptops.



Laptop Computers, Digital Immigrant, Teachers, High School, Innovation Adoption, Technology Integration