1 Marino Institute of Education (IRELAND)
2 Trinity College Dublin (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 6167-6176
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Teachers’ acceptance of technology is an important factor in their use of technology in teaching. In this paper the authors report on an interim stage of a longitudinal project that explores relationships between pre-service teachers’ self-rated levels of competency when using ICT, their reported ability to carry out certain tasks, their level of personal uses of selected technology and experience of technology use for education: this enables the tracking of technology acceptance (using the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)) and usage over time. Data were collected from first-year entrants (N = 104) to the teacher education college where one author teaches. The college prepares students for primary teaching (age range 4-12). An initial survey was given to the students and this was followed by a focus group formed from students who reported themselves as either ‘Very Expert’ (N = 16) or ‘Poor’ (N = 8) in answer to the request ‘Please rate your expertise in using technology’.

Other data collected in the survey include gender, age, school experience, frequency of personal technology use, abilities in using technology (to complement their self-rating expertise data), TAM items and barrier identification items; the latter three used five-point Likert-type scales. Overall, findings from the survey suggest that most students consider themselves competent users of computers and heavy users of some technology, especially social media. The data on social media illustrate the rapid changes in technology acceptance amongst equivalent cohorts of education students, with the proportion of reported users rising from 64% in 2007 to 87% in 2011 and 99% in 2013 (only one non-user); choice of social media has changed in the interval, with Facebook replacing Bebo and MySpace. Likewise, the proportion of students playing games has increased: use of a games console at least once a week has risen from 4.3% in 2007 to 16.3% in 2013, and 42.3% now play online games sometime (only 2 often or very often). However, reported use of digital and video cameras has declined.

The role of smartphone ownership in these trends, and in the low uptake of ebooks (83% never use a reader), were addressed in the focus group. However, it was designed chiefly to explore the students’ understanding of ‘expertise’ in the light of their self-reported level, and to relate this to their responses to the ten ‘ability’ items and their TAM responses. Responses to eight of the ‘ability’ items (such as ‘I am able to use my knowledge of technology to help my classmates’) were highly correlated with each other and with the expertise rating, and were used to form a scale, with Cronbach alpha = 0.86. Responses to the other two items (notably ‘I am able to complete a job using technology if shown first’) pointed to different interpretations by students with high and with low expertise; this was addressed in the focus group. The session was recorded in two ways: sound recording and by an observer; the elements were systematically coded by the authors and themes sought. A picture of the ‘expert’ users, especially in contrast to the ‘poor’ users, was developed, and will be used to help harness their expertise during their continuing studies.
Technical competency & skills, TAM, attitude, social media, technology use, usage of technology, teacher education.