Final Thoughts…

April 3, 2013

“Integrating technology into the classroom can be a daunting task”

This quotation begins the conclusion of the No Teacher Left Behind Article by Jamie Effaw. Through our blog posts we explored various change theories as they relate to the diffusion of technology into the WestPoint Academy Curriculum in early 2002. The 3 step change process which was adopted was key to the diffusion of technology, however what we noticed is that there is a distinct difference between implementing change, technology diffusion, change theory and effective teaching. The models that we looked at each offered insight into the success and challenges faced at WestPoint Academy. However no one model or theory was able to answer all of our questions, or to fully explain the success of the change at West Point to our satisfaction. We each had differnt perspectives from which we approached the article and the change models, which limited us in some ways, and allowed us to find meaning in others. This is where we often disagreed and benefited from discussion. All the theories we examined offered something valuable that enabled us to better understand the diffiusion of technology and use those insights in our own teaching and learning.

Jennifer L. and Elizabeth

Upon rereading the article No Teacher Left Behind by Jamie Effaw I was struck at how the Concerns Based Model of Change by Hall and Hord (1987) could be applied specifically how the Levels of technology indicators can be related to the 3-phases of implementation that WestPoint went through.

 

Levels of technology implementation framework (LoTi):

For the purposes of this blog entry I would like to focus on Christopher Moertsch(1998) Levels of Technology Implementation (LoTi). Through this we can see the connection between the 3 phases of technology diffusion that WestPoint employed to diffuse technology into their teaching methodologies.  According to the article the initial attempt of technology implementation failed mostly due to the fact that “no one had prior experience incorporating laptop technology into the teaching process, and … no model for us.”(Effae, 2005 p.28). The level of use prior to the integration was most likely between the Awareness and Exploration phase. For although the faculty did have some experience with technology what they lacked was how to implement into classroom lessons. The fear of progression more than likely came from the fact that they did not know how to deliver lessons with it, not that they did not know how to use the laptop. This was addressed in phase 1, learning. In this phase the faculty were given technology training and classroom modeling of lessons.  This allowed the staff to address concerns that they were having and to be able to have a mentor that would guide them through the process. At the end of the first phase of integration the faculty progressed in the LoTi framework.

In Phase 2 , Practice and feedback, the faculty progressed through the following found in the LoTi framework: Exploration, Integration  and Infusion (mechanical). At this point the faculty are beginning to feel more comfortable with the technology but it has not become fully integrated yet. They are receiving feedback on their lessons and are still practicing their skills. The key in this phase was to “develop their comfort with the mechanics of technology use, supported by a core instructional group experienced in using technology” (Effaw,2005 p. 30).  According to the LoTi framework, the technology tools were being mechanically integrated. The faculty were more than likely reliant on prepackaged materials that would help them to define their lessons and were using basic multimedia, word processing and computer programs to help their students to problem solve. This stage was important in that it helped to provide a level of confidence in the technology that helped to resolve the initial fear and anxiety experienced prior to phase 1.

In phase 3, Continued Development the faculty further progressed to the Integration (routine),Expansion and Refinement LoTi. The first 2 stages seemed to be the time in which the faculty were really guided in their implementation. In phase 3 the “training wheels” were taken off and the staff were learning how to implement their own techniques and ideas. Through the Integration routine the perception of technology shifted from something that had to be done to something that was willingly implemented because it was the best learning tool for the student. It became an automatic implementation technique and as new ideas were generated the faculty were given a chance to share their findings in their weekly meetings. These sharing forums fueled the expansion level of the framework in that the technology expanded outside the classroom experience. Research was no longer isolated to the school libraries and students were encouraged to expand their ideas to beyond the institution.  By the final phase the technology was effectively diffused into WestPoint. The maintenance feature implemented in Phase 3 at WestPoint fully supports the Refinement phase as it allows for the knowledge to remain fluid and changing. As staff get more ideas and students are allowed to explore the use of technology change became constituent and accepted.

Conclusion

I believe that the initial failure was necessary for the success that ultimately occurred. According to Hall and Hord et al (1987), most change fails during the implementation stage and this was true of the first attempt of WestPoint to diffuse the new technology. However, the 3 phase process seems to parallel the core idea of CBAM which is that “learning brings change and supporting people in change helps learning to “take hold”.  The LoTi Framework by Moertsch (1998)   is a good way to see how the implementation process “took hold” of the staff at WestPoint.

Jen

 

 

http://www.rmcdenver.com/useguide/cbam.htm

http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/no-teacher-left-behind-how-teach-technology

 

In reading the conclusion of the “No Teacher Left Behind” article, I notice that some conditions noted by Ely’s as essential to change are not mentioned, though many are addressed by the three phase training program. Aside from “support” and “accessibility” mentioned as necessary for an effective program which correspond with Ely’s knowledge, skills, availability of time, resources and commitment, the author attributes the success of West Point’s integration training program to peer-to-peer training, discipline specific modelling and resource sharing which are not mentioned by Ely.

Sufficient Knowledge and Skills, Availability of Resources, Availability of Time, Reward and Incentives, Commitment, Participation, Leadership

Phase one, the Learning phase, consists of technology training; classroom modeling and participation; and feedback. Training develops faculty’s comfort level with technology by training in basic technology use. Observing veterans in the classroom allows new instructors to experience different teaching styles. Participating in the activities lets them engage with the technology which leads to new teaching methods. Feedback benefits both instructors. This approach successfully prepares intended adopters with the skills to implement the change.

The key stakeholders, the instructors responsible for developing and implementing the change, take part in the process in a central role. They work together in a supportive and long term capacity to develop models and new teaching techniques as well as new teaching methods. They collaborate and evaluate the results, and continue to improve the program over time.

Leadership provides encouragement and support by implementing the program and championing its results. Staff is allotted a large amount of time for participation in the program though there are no explicit external rewards or incentives (aside from maintaining a teaching position at the academy!). Adopters experience intrinsic motivation as evidenced by their excitement about the program. For example, one instructor is quoted as saying “the best part [of participating in the program] was learning alternate ways of presenting the information that I had just taught…I really valued the feedback on the other ways [to teach] I may not have considered” (29) showing his enthusiasm for teaching as motivating factor in the change process.

The program design adequately meets Ely’s eight conditions of change creating an optimal environment for successful implementation and adoption of technology innovation at West Point.

Peer-to-Peer Training, Discipline Specific Modelling and Resource Sharing

Meeting Ely’s conditions for change was not enough for the program to be successful. According to the article, training would not have taken place past basic comfort in mechanics of the technology if not for West Point’s “secret weapon” – the fact that the academy’s development program “resides in the domain of faculty colleagues” and that those stakeholders have “already experimented with and learned how to use technology in the classroom” (28). I realize that in one sense, this lack of peer training could mean Ely’s condition of sufficient knowledge and skill has not been met because the intended adopters would lack the knowledge and skill to implement the change. However, the statement suggests that something is missing from Ely’s conditions. Because the primary users of Ely’s model are change agents in education, I don’t think it unfair to consider this a potential missing piece.

Ely’s conditions require stakeholders to have a voice in the change process, but maintains that leader buy-in and encouragement, support, and inspiration is equally, if not more so important for success (two whole conditions are dedicated to leaders). The adopters themselves are presented as inactive players upon which change process must be enacted: They need be motivated and given a voice, time, resources, encouraged, supported etc. In the case of West Point, the adopters themselves take a leadership role thus eliminating the need for a differentiation between “adopters” and “leaders” in the change process and reshaping the application of the model.

Ely theorized that the social environment impacts the change process, but the eight conditions don’t really demonstrate this as the West Point example illustrates. The factors of the conditions played an important role in the change, but what mattered most was that models for technology integration were developed by and demonstrated through workshops conducted by faculty for faculty. This discipline specific situated training is what made the change process successful because it more fully accounts for the social environment that Ely originally found to have a large impact on the change process.

 

Elizabeth 

Change is never easy and is thus easily abandoned. Change and education are two terms that I believe are in a constant state of flux. For although education and by proxy educators are supposed to be a pivotal force in creating change, the education system in itself enjoys stability and finds comfort in the status quo. Technology is a word that evokes ideas of change, innovation and the future. Couple this term with education and according to this article you get fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of a lack of skills, fear of change. However, like this article suggests change is inevitable and constant and it is how institutions deal with these fears that will insure the diffusion of change throughout the community and the progress of its students.

In the article No Teacher Left Behind by Jamie Effaw (2005) it discusses the process by which West Point Academy diffused technology into the classroom via laptops. In that process one can see the initial failure in the implementation stage and the process it took for the diffusion of technology to take place. When I read this article I could see how one could apply Lewin’s (1947) three phase change theory commonly referred to as the unfreezing, change, refreeze process.

The unfreezing in this article occurred when the technology advanced to a point where the previous technology was obsolete. For example, previous to 2002, Westpoint was using desktops connected to a network on a common platform, after the introduction of the internet, online learning and laptops the Academy realized that they had to change, and that change would begin with the Faculty. At this point a force field analysis could be applied to the initial training session given to the faculty to try and prepare them for the new students coming in and the laptops that they would be using. This session faced many driving and restraining forces. The driving forces were the individuals who ran the Academy and saw this as a positive way for their school to advance, while the restraining forces were the faculty who did not understand the technology and how it could be applied to the classroom. In the end the driving forces had to regroup to address the needs of the faculty and get them on board. This was done through a quasi-experiment whereby four staff members volunteered to integrate the new technology. After this success was shown in student attitude and achievement the driving forces created a three phase process to help the restraining forces understand and implement the technology into the classroom.

At this point the unfreezing of the old system occurred and the change process began. The three phase process that Westpoint suggests for the implementation of technology into the classroom is in itself the change process. The staff are learning, mentoring each other, providing feedback, and continuously developing their skills through group meetings. As a result the faculty are comfortable with the technology and are better able to integrate it into their classroom.

At this point one might think that the refreezing begins. On the one hand I can see the refreeze stage in the fact that the faculty are now using the technology which was the original purpose of the change. However I wonder that in this case the change stage seems to be designed with more fluidity in mind and therefore, can refreezing ever really take place? The faculty are constantly changing themselves and their use of the technology and given that technology is constantly changing as well wouldn’t it be detrimental to progress if they were in a stage of refreezing? Wouldn’t that lend itself to a stifling of progress? Or is the theory designed to take that into consideration and at the point where change needs to occur the unfreezing would begin again? I’m not sure what the answer is but I think it’s a pretty interesting question.

Jen Levine

References:

Connelly, M., & Change-Management-Coach.com., C. 2. (n.d.). Kurt Lewin Model of Change.Change Management, Powerful Solutions For Positive Change. Retrieved March 23, 2013, from http://www.change-management-coach.com/kurt_lewin.html

The technology implementation program, the “three-phase change process” used at West Point Academy is successful because it addresses the socio-environmental conditions that impact the implementation of the change process. Ely’s eight conditions are present in this context and help create an optimal change environment.

Dissatisfaction with the Status Quo

The environmental circumstance (the fact that technology is infused into students’ daily lives but not into classrooms) caused dissatisfaction for both teachers and students at the academy. When laptops and a wireless network were implemented instructors found students distracted by the availability of instant communication and other course work, which effectively “brought the barracks into the classroom”. The article cites the fact that after the program began students scored higher on exams, and reported higher motivation, interest, and efficiency as proof that students too were dissatisfied with their pre-change classroom experience.

I suppose this means Ely’s condition has been “met”, though I don’t think the program actually solved the dissatisfaction. The circumstances provided motivation and support for the change process, even though the change did not solve the problem causing the dissatisfaction which, in my opinion is mismatched beliefs between the students and instructors about technology use and learning. In higher education students are given more freedom and are responsible for their own learning, but instructors complained that students were distracted by email. Personally, I wouldn’t be checking email during class if I was engaged in the activity. Students reported higher engagement and interest, which probablylead to higher test scores once they were allowed to use technology in more integrated ways i.e. once they were allowed to learn in a way that made sense to them. The article never makes clear how exactly technology use in the classroom has changed, but I assume that in implementing more and newer technologies the possibilities for “distraction” have only increased. Perhaps unintentionally, or at least non-explicitly, the change process implemented at West Point is addressing other issues paramount to technology in education, like finding a new pedagogy and using technology in a new way to redefine learning?

Elizabeth

Article: No Teacher Left Behind: How to Teach with Technology

Authour:  Jamie Efaw

Educause Quartley  Number 4 2005

Web Link: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0544.pdf

SUMMARY

This article is a comprehensive look at a 3 phase faculty training model of incorporating technology into the classroom at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Since the mid 80’s West Point has had a technology rich environment. Starting with desktops that shared a common network and platform to the introduction of laptops in 2002 which had access to the web, email , LMS systems and online learning environments. Initially, these devices proved to be more of a distraction to students (checking emails, messaging friends etc.), causing many teachers to not allow them into their classrooms. This coupled with insufficient staff training on how to implement technology effectively into the classroom created a situation where by the technology was rejected by the faculty. After an initial attempt at training failed, a quasi-experiment took place involving 4 teacher volunteers committed to integrating technology into their classrooms. The result of this experiment was improved test scores, knowledge acquirement and lesson involvement. Through this experience a three-phase process was developed and implemented. The three phases are learning, practice and feedback and continued development.

The first phase Learning is divided into three parts:1) Technology training, 2) Classroom Modeling and Participation and 3) Feedback. This phase is designed to assess the needs of the staff, show them what is expected, and give them feedback on lessons shown. The second Phase is Practice and Feedback. This phase is designed to allow for new teachers to be able to receive mentoring by experienced faculty, design and practice lessons, videotape practice sessions which enable the new teachers to reflect and mentors to provide feedback .The third Phase is Continued Development. In this phase the emphasis is on how to continue the drive towards technology implementation into the classroom by extending the pre- academic year activities to stretch over the full school year. Mentoring and classroom observation (continued feedback), sharing forums across all departments, weekly discussions about what works and what does not, email and shared resource files.

The results of this three phase program ranged from a decrease in teacher workload, increase in student learning, motivation and knowledge of tools and skills for the 21st century learner. According to this study the key to an effective integration of technology program must include the following: peer to peer training, modeling, support, accessibility, feedback, established forums within a department and the school wide.