Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (SWITZERLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Page: 2364 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0596
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Although it is increasingly recognized that digital integration in education is essential, the actual process of building sustainable, collective digital competence in schools is still a long and winding road. The early literature on barriers to digital integration (Ertmer, 1999) provided valuable insights into different types of factors, namely first-order, extrinsic barriers, such as training, equipment and time versus second-order, intrinsic barriers, such as beliefs about technology, its added value and place in the classroom or school as well as its potential impact on the student-teacher relationship.

The aim of this research is to find out more about how school-teachers view initiatives to integrate technology in teaching and learning, with a view to understanding what are key challenges and how they relate to first and second-order barriers to integration.

Using a mixed methods approach, we firstly surveyed 1,346 teachers and school leaders in the twenty-nine compulsory education institutions, participating in a digital-integration pilot scheme in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland. We used a validated version of the free online EC survey tool SELFIE This enabled us to find out what aspects of school life (leadership, infrastructure, continuing professional development and pupil competences) were directly associated with teacher perceptions that their school was digitally competent and their own use of digital tools. We then carried out semi-structured focus group interviews with teachers in four of the schools to find out more about what teachers considered to be barriers to integration and whether these barriers corresponded to predictors of digital competence highlighted in the survey.

Results of both quantitative and qualitative analyses reveal that teacher feedback is an essential tool for school leadership teams as it reveals unforeseen differences between management and employee perceptions. In terms of digital development in particular, three key findings stand out. Firstly, having a digital strategy is an important factor, but not enough in itself. For a digital strategy to work, it needs not only to be clear, simple, and effectively communicated, but it also needs to have teachers included in its development and propagation. This is essential in order to increase ownership and support teacher autonomy and sense-making. A second element, often underestimated by school leadership is the need to motivate teachers, encourage and recognize their efforts and set up structures to allow them to find ways to use technology for what they want to do. This increases teacher autonomy and also their sense of competence. A third key facilitator is collaboration and sharing. Teachers who participate in more or less formal training and sharing sessions tend to find digital uptake more motivating and less daunting. They also have a valuable support network to rely on, which builds confidence. Interestingly, all three key factors correspond to second-order, intrinsic barriers to adoption, what we term “motivational factors”.

Taken as a whole, these results point to the importance of treating digital development in schools as an integral, holistic school project and to triangulating evidence from multiple perspectives in order to build action on reliable bases. We build on these results to discuss how schools can create tangible action plans to maximize sustainable teacher uptake and integration of digital tools in their classrooms.
Digital development, digital strategy, teacher motivation, teacher collaboration.