AGENCY, IDEOLOGY, AND INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY: ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTOR USE OF INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY AT A SOUTH KOREAN COLLEGE

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AGENCY, IDEOLOGY, AND INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY: ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTOR USE OF INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY AT A SOUTH KOREAN COLLEGE

Abstract

 

The      objective         of         this      study   was     to         investigate      the       ways   that     instructors think   about  classroom      technology     and      how     this      might  relate  to         their    classroom use      of         it.         This     qualitative      case     study   explores         the       relationship   between instructors     and      classroom      information/communication           technology     (ICT).  Specifically, this      study   followed         three   native  English-speaking       English            Language       instructors at         a          South  Korean           vocational      college over    the       course of         a          semester. Through         a          variety            of         data     collection        methods,        many   different aspects           of         the       participants’   relationships  with     instructional  ICT      were   explored. This     study   focused           on        participants’   espoused        ideas   and      beliefs about  what    ICT was,     how     it          was     meant to         be        used,   and      what    it          could   accomplish     in a          classroom      setting.            In         addition          to         interviews,     instructors’    actual technology     usage  was     explored         through          classroom      observations.

The      findings          strongly          suggest           that     instructors’    relationships  to instructional  ICT      are      differentiated individually    by        a          number          of         factors, such    as        an        instructor’s    history            of         learning          and      teaching          with     ICT, their    understanding           of         what    it          is,         and      what    it          can      and      cannot do. By        exploring        these   individual       instructors’    perspectives  and      their    use      of         ICTs in         their    classrooms,    this      study   makes a          case     that     the       educational    impact and benefit            of         ICT      should be        understood    as        a          result  of         relationships between         instructors     and      technology,    or        in         broader          terms, relationships between         humans          and      machines.       Furthermore, it          was     found  that     instructors’ relationships  with     instructional  technology     can      be        understood    in         terms  of         their ability  to         reshape          it          and      apply   it          in         innovative      ways   to         accomplish their    pedagogical    goals.  To       aid       in         this      understanding,          the       findings          are used    to         posit,   develop,          and      refine  two      theoretical      constructs,     technological agency and      ideologies        of         technology.     These  are      offered           as        conceptual lenses through          which  to         view    one      particular       aspect of         a          instructor’s relationship   to         technology,    that     of         reinterpretation        of         technological artifacts through          the       discovery       of         new     affordances.   By        casting            the       instructor as        the       interpreter     and      employer        of         educational    technology,    and      the       true key      to         its        success,          this      dissertation    stands as        a          response        to deterministic  and/or            essentialist     notions           of         technology     in         classrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table Of Contents

 

List of Tables…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. viii

List of Figures……………………………………………………………………………………………………… ix

Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………………………………. x

 

 

Section I……………………………..…………………………………………………… 1

Ch. 1 – Introduction……………………………………………………………………… 1

  1. Turning to the phenomenon……………………………………………………… 1
  2. Statement of purpose………….………………………………………………….. 3
  3. Overview of study………………………………………………………………… 3
  4. Research

questions………………………………………………………………………….. 4

  1. Organization of the dissertation……..…………………………………………… 4

 

Ch. 2 – Review of the Literature………………………………………………………….. 6

  1. Bringing technology into the classroom………………………………………….. 6
  2. Teacher cognition, teacher belief…………………………………………………. 9
  3. Teacher belief and ICT………………………………………………………….. 13
  4. Teacher cognition and CALL…………………………………………………… 16
  5. Moving to a theoretical articulation……………………………………..……… 24

 

Ch. 3 – Conceptual Framework……………………………………….………………… 26

  1. Technology………………………………………….…….………………..…… 26
    • – What is technology……………………………………………………….. 26
    • – Turning to affordance…………….…………………………………….… 28
    • – Focusing on ICT……………..…………………………………………… 32
  2. Teacher cognition: Beyond belief………………………………………………. 33
  3. The conceptual framework…………………….……………………………..… 36
    • – Models: Cultural, mental, theoretical…………………………..…………. 36
    • – Technological agency……………………………………………….….… 38
    • – Ideology……………………………………………..………………….… 41
    • – Ideologies of technology………………………………..………………… 44
    • – The importance of context………………………………………………… 45

 

Ch. 4 – Methodology and

Method…………………………………………………………………………..……… 47

  1. Methodology………………………………………….………………………….. 48
    • ……………………………..…………………………………….. 48
    • Epistemology…………..…………………………………………………… 49
    • Axiology…………….………………………………………………………. 51
  2. Method………..………………………………………………………………….. 53
    • The Pilot…..………………………………………………………………… 53
    • Context………………………………………..……………………………… 53
    • Participants………………………………………………………………..… 54
    • Researcher…………………………………………………………………… 55
    • Design………………………………………………………………………. 56
    • Tinkerer teacher’s toolkit……..…………………………………………..… 57
    • Sampling……………………..……………………………………………… 58
    • Data collection……………………………………………………………… 59
  3. Methods in depth…………………………………………………………………. 64
    • Classroom observations….…………………………………………………. 64
    • Interviews……………………………………………………………………. 66
    • Document analysis…………………………………………………………… 70
    • Questionnaire……………………………………………………………..… 70
    • Data analysis………………………………………………………………… 71
    • Catalytic effect………………….…………………………………………… 73

 

Section II – The Instructors………………..……………………………………………. 75

 

Ch. 5 – The Context of Technology Use……………………………………………..… 76

  1. Namu College……………………………….…………………………………… 76
  2. The material………………….…………………………………………………… 78
    • – Facilities…………………………………………………………………… 78
    • – Computer reliability/Security……..………………………………………. 80
  3. The institutional…………..……………………………………………………… 81
    • – Policies………..…………………………………………………………… 82
    • – Training…..……………………………………………………………..… 83
    • – Email….…………………………………………………………………… 85
  4. The cultural………………………………………………………………………. 86
  5. The ICT context of Namu College………………………………………………. 88

 

Ch. 6 – Hugh……………………..………………………………………………………. 89

  1. Hugh and ICT……………………………………………………………………. 89
    • Personal approach to ICT………………………………………………….… 89
    • ICT is……………………………………………………………………….. 91
    • Card sorting………………………………………………………………….. 93
  2. ICT and Teaching………………………………………………………………. 98
    • What it means to teach……………………………………………………… 98
    • Teaching with technology……………………………………………….… 100
    • What ICT can do in the classroom………………………………………… 107
    • Drawbacks of ICT……………………………………………………….… 110
    • Students and ICT…………………………………………………………… 114
    • How ICT is learned………………………………………………………… 119
    • ICT and teaching in the future……………………….………………….… 123
  3. Hugh’s classroom……………………………..……………………………….. 125
  4. Hugh’s ideology of technology…………………….………………………..… 130

 

Ch. 7 – Jessie……………………………..………………………………………….… 134

  1. Jessie and ICT………………………………………………………………..… 134
    • Personal approach to ICT………………………………………………..… 134
    • ICT is……………………………………………………………………… 135
    • Card sorting……………………………………………………………….. 138
  2. ICT and Teaching………………………….………………………………….. 144
    • What it means to teach………………..…………………………………… 144
    • Teaching with technology…………………………………………………. 145
    • What ICT can do in the classroom………………………………………… 150
    • Drawbacks of ICT……………………………………………………….… 153
    • Students and ICT…………………………………………………………… 156
    • How ICT is learned………………………………………………………… 159
    • ICT and teaching in the future……………………….………………….… 164
  3. Jessie’s classroom use……………………………………………………….… 165
  4. Jessie’s ideology of technology……………………………………………..… 171

 

Ch. 8 – Fiona…………………………………………………………………………… 173

  1. Fiona and ICT…………………………………………………………………. 173
    • Personal approach to ICT………………………………………………..… 173
    • ICT is……………………………………………………………………… 175
    • Card sorting……………………………………………………………..… 177
  2. ICT and Teaching.…………………………………………………………..… 183
    • What it means to teach………..…………………………………………… 183
    • Teaching with technology……………………………………………….… 184
    • What ICT can do in the class……………….……………………………… 191
    • Drawbacks of ICT………………………………………….……………… 194
    • Students and ICT…………………………………………………………… 195
    • How ICT is learned……………………………………………………..… 197
    • ICT and teaching in the future…………….…………………………….… 202
  3. Fiona’s classroom………………….………………………………………..… 204
  4. Fiona’s ideology of technology……………………………………………..… 207

 

Section III – Discussion and Conclusion………………………..…………………….. 210

 

Ch. 9 – Discussion………………………………..……………………………..…….. 211

  1. Patterns and points of interest in participant talk……………..……………..… 211
    • – Interview themes………………………….……………………………… 211
    • – Specific technologies…………………………………………………..… 220
    • – Metaphors……………….…………………………………………….… 224
    • – Espoused theories-of-action…………..………………………………… 229

 

  1. ICT in use……………………..………………………………………..……… 231
    • – Technologies employed………………………………………………..… 231
    • – Dynamics of use……………………………………………………….… 246
    • – Espoused ideas versus use………………………………………………. 250
  2. Ideologies of technology……………………………………………………… 254
    • – Approaches to technology…………………………………………….… 254
    • – Consumer ideologies of technology………………………….………….. 258
    • – The social construction of technology…………………………………… 263
    • – Returning to technological agency……………………………………….. 266
    • – The user and the tinkerer: Returning to ideologies of technology………. 270
  3. Follow-up: Member checking and catalytic validity………………………..… 281

 

Ch. 10 – Conclusion……………..…………………………………………………..… 286

  1. Implications…….………………………………………………………..… 286
  2. Contributions of this dissertation…………………………….…………..… 289
  3. Future study……………………………………………………………..… 293
  4. Limitations of study……………………………………………………..… 296
  5. In closing………….……………………………………………………..… 297

 

References……………………………………………………………………………… 299

Appendices…………………………………………………………………………..… 308

Appendix A – Classroom technology use survey……….…………………..… 308

Appendix B – Classroom observation guide………………………………..… 309

Appendix C – Administrator interview guide……………………………….… 311

Appendix D – Three-stage semi-structured interviews……………………..… 314

Appendix E – Video cued interview guide…………………………………..… 317

Appendix F – Focus group guide……………………………………………… 320

Appendix G – Follow-up interview guide…………………………………..… 323

Appendix H – Card sorting…………………………………………………..… 326

Chapter 1 – Introduction

1 Turning to the phenomenon

As with the majority of human endeavors, the task of teaching has long been conducted through, augmented by, or otherwise intertwined with, technology in various forms. The advantages technologies could bring to the classroom were heralded throughout the 20th century (Cuban, 1986), and as we move through the information age and beyond, information/communication technology (ICT), and its attendant literacies, have been identified as fundamental to teaching and learning (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2007; UNESCO, 2002). And yet, while undeniable benefits have emerged from the employment of ICT in classrooms, complications and shortcomings in cases such as the One Laptop per Child initiative (Selwyn, 2013) serve to remind that technology in the classroom is not a mere neutral, technical affair, but is political, cultural, and historical as well.

Technology in the classroom is a site of great debate and conflict, both in the abstracted realm of pedagogy research and in the concrete realms of policy and practice. A number of narratives surround instructional technology, making claims and foregrounding particular aspects. One position, perhaps more common in policy and mainstream discourse than in academia, holds the beneficial nature of instructional technology in general, and information/communication technology (ICT) in particular, as self-evident (Ertmer, & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010;

Negroponte, 1996; Prensky, 2001). This position is well represented by Ertmer and OttenBreit-Leftwich’s (2010) declaration that “It is time to shift our mindsets away from the notion that that technology provides a supplemental teaching tool and assume, as with other professions, that technology is essential to successful performance outcomes…” (p. 256, italics in original).

However, this narrative of necessary and inherently beneficial technology is held by some to be deeply problematic, failing to capture the reality of how technology is actually employed in the classroom (Burbules & Callister, 2000; Cuban, Kirkpatrick, & Peck, 2001; Selwyn, 2011). In too many cases, the situation in the classroom simply does not reflect the glowing discourse of technology’s potential (Cuban & Cuban, 2009; NESTA, 2012). With technology’s value for learning lately being questioned internationally, from primary to post-secondary education (Kamenetz, 2016), an inquiry into the realities of classroom technology use is both timely and necessary.

Warschauer (1998) describes much of the research in educational technology in language acquisition as ‘deterministic’, based in the assumption that technology is some essential thing, has some essential effect, or has essential uses. Technology in learning contexts has often been surrounded by a discourse of technological determinism that attempts to cast it as a neutral force, one that operates independent of society and context (Buckingham, 2008). As Hodas (1993) notes, the technological deterministic approach entails the belief that “the transformative power resides in the box itself rather than the uses to which it is put” (p. 7). In practice, these deterministic (mis)conceptions of what technology is can lead to what Bax (2003) terms the sole agent fallacy, “the common assumption that the key or only factor in successful implementation of the technology is the technology itself” (p. 26).

Perrotta (2013) cautions that deterministic conceptualizations of technology in educational policy and application can not only work counter to potential benefits technology might have, but can also lead to reluctant teachers beings positioned within a discourse of deficiency. Regardless of broad claims of ICT’s potential for transformative learning, every individual teacher makes daily decisions about the place and purpose of technology in their classroom (Vrasidas, 2015). What is needed is a nuanced understanding of classroom technology use that focuses on the relations between humans and technology at the individual level. Thus, this study proceeds at the individual scope, focusing on teacher understanding of classroom technology and its use. Though this work situates this study in the realm of language teaching and acquisition and in the context of South Korean tertiary education, the theoretical implications may have relevance for pedagogy in general.

 

 

 

2 Statement of purpose

This work starts from a foundational assumption that the impact of technology in the classroom is more an outcome of the way it is used than the fact that it is used (Levy, 2009; Vrasidas, 2015). It takes a bottom-up rather than top-down approach to the phenomenon of teacher technology use. Given this, it is important to explore what factors might influence that use. While technology and protocols for employing it are often prescribed by policy, protocol, convention, and/or instructions, responsibility for the actual use of the technology (and in most cases the learning outcomes) falls to the teacher in the classroom (Goodson, Knobel, Lankshear, and Mangan, 2002). If we accept that the transformative power of ICT in the class depends on the way it is used by individual teachers, we must ask what leads teachers to use ICT in particular ways. Of the many factors that may influence a teacher’s implementation of technology, it is cognitive factors that serve as the focus of this study. It is argued here that one major influence on teacher use of ICT is individual teacher attitudes towards, or conceptions of, ICT. The task is to find a way to conceptualize and explore these attitudes and see what relation they might have to actual classroom ICT practices.

 

3 Overview of the study

This study follows three University English language instructors[1] over the course of a semester, exploring their understanding and use of technology both discursively and empirically. Using a variety of different methods to achieve triangulation and thick description, a picture of these teachers’ relationship with classroom technology emerges. These relationships are explored in terms of the conceptual constructs of technological agency and ideologies of technology.

Finally, consideration is given to potential catalytic impact of the research.

 

 

 

4 The research questions

The phenomenon of interest in this research is teachers’ relationship with classroom ICT as reflected in their espoused ideas and opinions and their practices. The following questions form the foundation for the conceptual framework and research design. The study is guided by the following research question:

 

How does the understanding and interpretation of technology of English language instructors at a Korean university relate to their classroom use of information/communication technology?

 

The following secondary questions relate to different facets of the primary question:

  1. What understandings or interpretations of technology do EFL instructors report concerning the affordances of ICT in the classroom context? (What ICT is in terms of what it can do)
  2. How can instructors’ approach to ICT be understood in terms of technological agency and ideologies of technology?
  3. How do these ideologies relate to instructors’ reported pedagogical goals? (What ICT is in terms of what it is for)
  4. How do these ideologies relate to instructors’ observed classroom technology practices?
  5. What contextual factors (such as institutional policy and professional culture and/or ideologies of technology) might influence these practices?
  6. What changes in practices might be observed over the course of the study?

 

Given the central importance of these questions, they will be referenced explicitly throughout this dissertation.

 

5 Organization of the dissertation

The dissertation is divided into three sections. Section I, comprising chapters one through four, establishes the foundation of the research. Chapter one orients towards the phenomenon broadly, and introduces the research questions.

Chapter two presents a review of literature relevant to the intersections of the various aspects of the phenomenon of interest: Classroom technology, teacher cognition, and language acquisition. This review serves to situate the current research among extant work, and to justify the current study by identifying a gap in the literature. Chapter three introduces the various elements of the theoretical framework, relating them both to each other and to the research questions to form a theoretical foundation for the study. Finally, chapter four concerns methodology and research design. This chapter addresses methodological assumptions in the study, exploring implications of the interpretive stance taken here. The details and rationale for methods of data collection and analysis are then provided.

Section II of the dissertation, chapters five through nine, explores teacher understanding and use of ICT. Chapter five presents the teachers’ context of technology use, exploring the institution and context in which the teachers operate professionally. Chapters six through eight each focus on one teacher, touching on the teacher’s background, espoused ideas and opinions about technology, and their observed classroom technology use. Each chapter also makes some initial statements about participants’ ideologies of technology.

Section III, chapters nine and ten, connects the thick description of section II to the concepts introduced in chapter four and brings the dissertation to a close. Chapter nine, the discussion chapter, first returns to instructors’ espoused ideas and opinions on technology, with discussion of teacher theories and metaphors emerging from interviews. Discussion then focuses on teacher technology use, discussing patterns emerging from classroom observations. Throughout this chapter, consideration is given to specific technologies referred to and used by the participants. Finally, all of this is brought together, with discussion returning to research questions and conceptual framework. Findings are used to develop and refine the concepts of technological agency and ideologies of technology. In closing, chapter ten presents a discussion of implications, contributions to the field, limitations, potential avenues of future study.

[1]               A             note        on           terminology:        Though  the          terms     teacher  and         instructor             are                largely   interchangeable,  within    this         work      teacher  is             used       to            refer       to            educators                in            general,  and         instructor             specifically           to            the          research                participants          and                their       colleagues             at             the          research                site.

AGENCY, IDEOLOGY, AND INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY: ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTOR USE OF INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY AT A SOUTH KOREAN COLLEGE

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