Effective Use of Digital Technologies of High School Teachers as Digital Immigrants in Six Rural Public Schools
Pattee, Andrew Robert
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Problem: A widening experiential gap of effective use of technology in K-12 schools between “digital immigrants” and “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001) is becoming more evident as digital natives become classroom teachers and showcase pedagogical strategies with digital technologies. There is a dearth of research on digital immigrants who effectively use of digital technology in teaching and learning in high school classrooms. Methods: Using a phenomenological (Creswell, 2007) approach to explore “lived experiences” (Van Manen, 1990) of secondary teachers who use technology effectively in their classrooms for teaching and learning. I conducted in depth semi-structured individual interviews with five digital immigrants who fit this description. Using purposive sampling (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007) participants were selected through nomination from their administrators. Data collection methods included verbatim transcriptions following each interview, sample lesson plans from each teacher, field notes, my reflexive journal, and member checks for data triangulation. Using open coding and recoding strategies (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) major themes and commonalities emerged from the data. The process of member checking and data triangulation ensured that participants’ voice, experiences, and viewpoints were rich descriptions of their technology experiences. Findings: The participants’ stories revealed four key themes that captured the essence of their effective technology experiences: (a) motivation for being an effective technology user, (b) identity as a life long learner, (c) learner focused pedagogy, and (d) effective mentorships. Conclusions: Participants focused on effective pedagogy as essential to student learning with technology as vehicle for instruction, not a stand-alone tool. They exhibited intrinsic motivation and enthusiasm for continuous learning. Recommendations: Teachers may benefit from district level professional development opportunities to collaborate and showcase effective classroom technologies, particularly in rural areas. Districts should increase administrative support for teacher use and exploration of digital technologies in order to pique curiosity, build skills, and increase motivation.
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