Form and content: A study of underlying forms of knowledge and technology integration in secondary teaching



Publication Details

Howard, S. K. & Maton, K. (2013). Form and content: A study of underlying forms of knowledge and technology integration in secondary teaching. ALT-C 2013 Association for Learning Technology.


While there is a considerable amount of research looking at multiple and holistic factors impacting on the effectiveness of technology integration in teaching, a missing element in this work has been educationalknowledge (Czerniewicz, 2010). In this paper, we focus on how educational knowledge may relate to beliefs about technology integration in secondary teaching. This paper extends earlier work using a social realist approach to explore the forms taken by educational knowledge in different subject areas, in order to more fully understand the ways in which technology comes to be integrated in teachers' practice (see Howard & Maton, 2011). The research provides a critical perspective that, in combination with other factors, helps us to identify the most effective approach to technology integration in learning and teaching. To do this, the discussion draws upon teacher questionnaire results and interviews from a major empirical study of a governmental initiative to integrate technology into secondary schooling in the state of New South Wales in Australia, a part of the 'Digital Education Revolution' (DER), collected from 2010 to 2013 (N = 3000-4000). The underlying social realist theoretical framework of the research is Legitimation Code Theory (LCT), specifically the dimension of Specialization. Specialization highlights that practices, beliefs and knowledge claims are about or would be oriented towards something by someone (Maton & Lamont, 2010). This sets up both an epistemic relation (ER) to an object (skill, content knowledge) and a social relation to a subject (SR; experience, feel and/or talent). Results from questionnaire data suggest teachers' demonstrating a stronger epistemic relation to knowledge in their beliefs about practice reported less frequent technology integration and less agreement about the importance of technology in their subject area. In some cases, a stronger social relation to knowledge was observed with more frequent use of, and more positive beliefs about, technology. To explore these ideas more deeply, excerpts from teacher interview data illustrating beliefs about technology integration will be provided to small audience member groups for analysis and discussion (5-7 minutes). Results of small group discussions will be presented to the whole group in relation to the research findings. Implications for teacher practice and technology-related change will be discussed. The research is novel and innovative in both its use of theory and bringing together the hitherto largely separate fields of educational technology and sociology of knowledge. It promises to offer not only novel insights into the problem addressed by this research but also a new perspective on questions related to the role of technology in education more generally.

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