Laptops for teachers: An evaluation of the TELA scheme in Otago schools
The purpose of this evaluation was to investigate the impacts of the Laptops for Teachers Scheme (TELA) on primary schools within the Otago region.
Author(s): Keryn Pratt, Kwok-Wing Lai & Ann Trewern with Fiona Concannon & Harriet Sutton. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.
Date Published: May 2010
This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box). For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.
Section 6: Impact of the laptop
From the interviews and our observations, it is clear that the TELA scheme has had an impact on all the teachers and schools involved in this evaluation. As one teacher said, "basically I don't think we could do our job effectively any more without it". However, there was variation in terms of the level of impact the laptops have had. This section will explore the impact the laptop had on leadership, on various aspects of teachers' practice, and in terms of any demands it placed on teachers and schools.
As discussed previously, the leadership models and the role of the principal in the five schools differed, and seemed to affect how the TELA initiative impacted on teaching and learning. Leadership and principals' roles in several of the schools also changed, to a lesser degree, over the period of the research. What cannot be determined, however, is the degree to which these changes can be attributed to the laptop initiative.
In School A and School C the principal's role and leadership style had changed little since the beginning of the research. These principals had been driving the use of ICT in their schools and expecting its use in teaching and learning since the inception of the TELA initiative. Changes in leadership style and the role of the principal were seen in Schools B and D; however, in both cases these principals were relatively new and so the changes may have been owing to their increasing knowledge of the staff at their new schools, rather than the TELA initiative. School B's principal believed her role had been able to become more visionary over time, while School D's felt that he had been able to change his expectations from an administrative to a teaching and learning focus. It is difficult to determine the degree of change in terms of leadership in School E, owing to the contrasting comments made by the teachers who were interviewed. From the beginning to the end of the project, teachers had differing views with regard to the value the principal placed on ICT in teaching and learning. The teacher who felt that principal's leadership in this had increased believed it had done so owing to the staff having driven it.
The effect of the laptop scheme on teachers' practice will be explored through looking at the impact on teachers' professional growth, collaboration, their use and creation of resources, lesson planning, administration and on their classroom pedagogy.
Two areas of professional growth were identified as occurring over the course of the research project. Teachers grew in their confidence and competence in terms of their ICT skills, and to a lesser degree in the use of ICT in teaching and learning. Most commonly, participants commented on the former. Even in the early interviews, teachers commented that they had gained ICT skills since they had the laptops. Despite the improvement, there was still a need to improve on basic computer skills for administrative tasks, with teachers commenting that it still took them a long time to do some tasks. Others noted that working on the laptops could be frustrating owing to their lack of knowledge. Over the course of the research, it was noticeable that participating teachers increased their skills and confidence. While most still acknowledged a need to continue improving in this area, they recognised how far they had come.
A key feature of the laptop that has allowed the increase in ICT skills is its portability. Simply being able to access the laptop in a teacher's leisure time, in a relaxed environment, enabled many of the teachers to upskill at a relaxed pace. This emphasis on 'time to play' and 'fun' and 'experimentation in a relaxed environment' were key factors in facilitating this change. Some teachers commented on how the sense of ownership gained through the TELA scheme enabled them to learn more quickly.
The resultant increase in confidence with regard to ICT helped some teachers use ICT with their students. As one teacher explained,
"What happens now is I'm more confident to verbalise it and showing it to kids, whereas before, I'd do something I used to get someone in who knew more than I did to teach/explain it to the kids . . . I'm actually; I'm becoming more instinctive with what needs to be done."
Other teachers and principals agreed, feeling that as teachers gained more confidence, they were more likely to use ICT in their teaching and learning. How the laptop affected teaching and learning will be discussed further in later sections.
In this research, collaboration was explored both at a school level and at a personal level. In asking teachers about collaboration we asked about whether or not and how they communicated and worked with colleagues and others. The level of collaboration of individual teachers was largely related to the degree to which the school culture in which they worked encouraged collaboration. At a school level this was done both through the provision of infrastructure that allowed it, such as an intranet, and a promotion of it, such as an expectation that resources would be shared.
As such, teachers from School A, which had a culture of collaboration and the infrastructure to encourage electronic collaboration, reported high levels of collaboration. This was apparent throughout the research and was seen in both communication and in the sharing of resources and the degree to which teachers referred to working in teams. The laptops facilitated this kind of collaboration, as one teacher described,
"Our whole school communicates backwards and forwards all the time with email. I put messages on our intranet news that needs to be circulated round the whole school, I mean everybody agrees to open up the intranet during morning tea and get any notices and messages. I put documents into our public, shared folder that children can access, drag those out onto their desktop and use those. I mean it might have website addresses. . . I use [the laptop] all the time to access our guidelines for curriculum planning and assessment."
As the principal explained,
"There's a high level of collaboration in terms of planning . . . and people sitting around developing one document, emailing it to everybody, using public shared folders, teachers' shared drives . . . so . . . sharing resources . . . [The laptops have] certainly made people be connected."
Schools that lacked this infrastructure and the support of the principal in updating and maintaining the school intranet reported considerably less electronic communication and collaboration. Checking the school intranet pages and checking email was a strong motivator for staff to engage with ICT for professional communication and to subsequently explore emailed weblinks, etc. Much of the success of this means of communication lay in the expectation the principal placed on its use. In schools where the principal used paper notices passed around to teachers in class, there was less emphasis on checking email, and it became an unnecessary communication channel in that school, and irregularly checked.
An increase in electronic communication and collaboration was seen in schools as their infrastructure changed over the course of the research. In School B, teachers increasingly reported using their laptops to take notes in meetings, and then sharing these with the staff involved, using either email or the school network. Laptops were seen as enhancing the existing work culture, rather than changing it in School C. As the principal noted, the laptops had impacted on the school's work culture in terms of the efficiency of work rather than in changing the planning, processes or attitudes to work. For example, the laptops made it easier for teachers to use the shared space on the school file server to share plans and other work with their colleagues, compared to before the scheme.
By the third round of interviews, School D's principal believed that his school's work culture had been affected by the TELA scheme. He noted it had been "gradual and slowly", with changes in the way people work to incorporate technology. For example, planning now tended to be done on a computer, rather than on paper first, to reduce double handling.
Over time, technology was also increasingly used as part of the collaborative process in all schools other than School E. The sharing of resources and team planning was more common and was seen in all schools. Some schools had scheduled time for sharing skills and resources, while in others it was more serendipitous. Again, the degree to which this happened seems to be affected by the culture of the school, although individuals did report sharing with close colleagues even when it was less common in the school as a whole.
Use and creation of resources
Teachers identified three ways in which having laptops affected their use and creation of resources. Teachers most commonly referred to locating resources to use in their classes, followed by adapting resources to suit their purposes, and, to a lesser extent, to creating resources.
The resources teachers adapted and created were generally Word or PowerPoint-type resources, although there were examples of teachers creating more intricate resources, such as movies or webpages. This became more common over the course of the research, with several teachers towards the end of the project creating wikis and blogs for use with their classes. Several teachers also commented on working with students to increase their ability to search for resources.
Over time it seemed that for most teachers the use of the laptops for accessing and creating resources was something that teachers seemed to take for granted, as it was not mentioned in later interviews until asked about specifically. The nature of the resources being found and utilised seemed to alter over the course of the research. In the early interviews, teachers talked about finding worksheets that could be printed and used offline, or good websites. Towards the end of the research project, however, teachers talked about using software sites, YouTube clips and other videos, and sites with interactive games and activities, designed to be used online. The teachers with access to interactive whiteboards also talked about using their laptops to create resources for this from home. Teachers from School E were less likely to report accessing resources using their laptops throughout the research project. This may be owing to their inability to connect to the Internet using their laptops until the final stages of the project.
All of the teachers interviewed noted an advantage in having a TELA laptop for the purpose of report writing and preparing lesson plans. Whilst there was variation in many of the other uses of the laptop (ie, in teaching and learning or personal use), the common factor of laptop usage was that all teachers carried out administrative and planning tasks on the TELA laptop. This persisted throughout the course of the research. For some teachers, planning and administration work represented most of their laptop use, even at the end of the research project.
In all schools, teachers used the TELA laptops for lesson planning. Having been provided with a personal and mobile computing device, teachers have been able to avail themselves of the advantages the mobility has brought them, and to carry out classroom planning at a time that suits them.
Teachers' increased access to laptops led most schools to work on setting up standard planning templates. After the initial process of setting up standard planning templates for use across a school or syndicate, efficiencies were noted in being able to reuse and adapt templates and outlines of plans. Over time it became common for teachers to take their laptops to planning meetings, and to do all their planning directly onto the laptop. Over time it also became more common for less paper to be used. Early in the project teachers reported taking notes, typing them up and then printing them out. This evolved over the project so that by the end several teachers commented that they no longer used paper, making any alterations directly onto the laptop during the class. Some teachers, however, found that when they first got their laptop they were using it indiscriminately, and that over time they discovered that sometimes it was more efficient not to use the laptop.
As mentioned previously, one of the main reported impacts of the TELA scheme has been to improve the administration activities of teachers. This was unanimous across schools and for all teachers. Again, the school's infrastructure impacted on the degree to which teachers used their laptops for school-related administration. The schools with a school management system required teachers to do their administration via computer, and the laptops meant that teachers now had more flexibility about when they did this. Similarly, they gave teachers flexibility when doing reports, which all schools required be done electronically.
While School A did not have a management system, its teachers used their laptops for a "lot of admin, like notices, newsletters, planning". A management system was being implemented, and teachers identified several ways in which they would use their laptops for administration once this had occurred, including the ability to "collate the assessment data . . . the national data that relates to reading and things like that". Teachers at School C and School D also mentioned using their laptops to work with assessment data, finding this had benefits. Some teachers also used their laptops in meetings, with this most common in School A and only rarely mentioned in other schools.
Again, school factors appeared to impact on teachers' use of laptops for administration. Teachers' comments showed that much of the administration work done on computer was owing to a school requirement that it be done this way. Similarly, schools with an intranet or culture of using ICT for communicating administrative matters had, not surprisingly, teachers who reported using it for these purposes.
One of the key questions being asked in this evaluation was whether or not having a personal laptop would affect teachers' use of ICT in the classroom and their general pedagogy. Most teachers were able to identify ways in which having a laptop impacted on their teaching, although this was often through indirect means, such as planning, administration and the finding or creation of resources. This was particularly true of the initial rounds of the research, when the most commonly cited impact of the TELA scheme was in facilitating planning and administration as opposed to encouraging more innovations in terms of pedagogic practices. The following quote from the round 2 interviews in early 2006 exemplifies this,
"It just sits on my desk and I just use it at lunchtimes and after school and that's about it really, just for my own administration really. That's probably the level I'm at."
ICT was, however, being used in the classroom, to varying extents, in all five schools. The following table gives examples of how ICT was being used by teachers who took part in all rounds of the interviews. From these examples, it seems apparent that the way in which ICT was being used changed over time, for at least some teachers. How ICT was being used in classrooms, and how this changed over time, is explored in this section.
|Rounds 1 and 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5|
|Teacher, School A|
|We just got them to use Kidspiration . . . . Or they'd do KidPics to do with a science topic or something like light – they might draw something that produces light, and they'd have to write an explanation underneath and then we'd put that together as a slide show and might show that to parents. Or math statistics units where you use Excel to make specialised graphs to present data . . . and making music, PowerPoint presentations . . . all those sorts of things.||Our topic is Reach for the Stars which is all about space and, I mean, the number of fantastic websites and you know, videos and graphics and close up photos and all sorts that the children are accessing two or three times a week using ICT . . . we've just started doing these virtual post-cards. I mean they have to choose a planet that they've got to send a post-card from. They have to do the research before they write the virtual post-card then they're going to email that to me.||They're just finishing off this extreme sport web quest . . . so getting them to . . . to find out what extreme sports are, . . . then right down to the history of Queenstown and why it's become that. . . . I use it pretty much every day for maths. One group will always be on our learning link site . . . Everything, what don't I do with it! Well email, Internet access, developing the wiki page, showing children um, video clips that are available via the Internet that support our learning.||Using CD ROMs to do reading activities or you know, that sort of thing, the access to information that children can have and how you can actually try and teach them how to find what they need to find and how to cross reference and things like that. Probably never used to do that before. Um and I think it's hopefully just modeling to them that although they might use the Internet for quiet entertainment purposes, they see that we just use it seamlessly and it's about learning.|
|Teacher, School B|
|I would just go and find relevant websites, print off what I think will work and then use paper versions with the kids for reading or searching or whatever we are doing.||I've got kids to do their own slide-show presentations and stuff.||The kids are doing a social studies reading research thing on great minds . . . this whole thing's going to be a PowerPoint presentation. Twice a week they have some computer activity. . . I integrate more in maths now, and science so that we do a lot of paper work and calculations, like, for graphs and stuff, we repeat the whole process on Excel.||It's good for information on the Internet.|
|Teacher, School C|
|Word processing and stuff. . . . We've done PowerPoint, Internet use.||We use it for prayers, literacy, numeracy, topic um, everything really. The way I teach has changed heaps. . . It's more about them finding out than me telling them.|
|Teacher, School C|
|One of the activities on [my reading programme] is word processing skills and the children have to read through the instructions and it might be changing the font on the computer or things like that. Typing up stories. We have quite a few maths games that we play or that they play when they've finished work. . . . when we've been doing inquiry topics or anything like that – they [children] are often on the computer . . . looking on Google or some of those sites finding out information.||They've been making PowerPoints themselves.||We did email kids from some other classes. We did that a little bit. . . With our inquiry, they do a lot more research.||The kids have been doing [blogging] . . . they've been writing stories.|
|Teacher, School C|
|It's a reading game.||Children use them for maths games, reading games.|
|Teacher, School D|
|Mainly photos of kids doing stuff at the moment . . . now that we're sort of getting more in touch with some of the maths activities that are available, we're using it for that.||What some of the kids are getting used to doing is plugging in the camera after they've taken the photos and going through the process with me of printing that out. As part of our reading programme and maths programme, it will be like an independent activity you've got. I like to use it more for kids sort of writing out their stories and things like that.||We found a really cool song on YouTube . . . and so . . . bringing that up on the projector and showing it. . . sometimes I've found games and things so you can bring them up . . . and two or three kids can do that at a time . . . they've taken some photos of the swimming . . . and print out the photos and stick them in their books and write stories about them.|
|Teacher, School E|
|The latest CD that the children use. Also I take lots of photos . . . It's like a little movie. We put it up and they get to see that . . . There are some websites that we get games from and play the odd time.||Sometimes I let them do word processing and things.||Word processing, we did a unit on using the digital camera, so putting them onto there and editing and things like that . . . and the Internet when they're doing their inquiry units. And maths games and things like that.|
Teachers were asked directly about the impact of the TELA scheme on their teaching, and their use of ICT in teaching. Even in the early stages there were indications of changes in pedagogy related to ICT use, although at this stage it seemed likely that this was owing to factors other than the TELA scheme. In the first two rounds, six teachers commented on their role and seemed to indicate a shift towards student-centred tasks.
"I try and get away with one expert that will roam along the back of the three [children working on the computers] and help. And when they are finished, they'll go and get the next person on the list and they become the tutor… putting their hands behind their backs [so they can't grab the mouse but give verbal instructions] and that type of thing… As long as they have their hands behind their back and they are co-piloting because the temptation to lean over and go, "you push this!", is [strong]. But you say, "They won't learn if you push. Put your hands back behind your back and tell them what they are going to push and why". And they do do it very well. They're very supportive of each other."
By round four, most teachers had been using their laptops for between two and three years, and references to changes in the way they taught were appearing. At this time the pedagogic approach in which ICT should be used in the classroom was a recurring, at times implicit, theme in the interviews with School A staff. When asked about how they used ICT, the teachers at School A usually referred to pedagogy, rather than ICT skills or programmes. Part of this, they felt, meant recognising that "you don't just do everything [using ICT] but it's becoming part of your day, and all the time". As another teacher explained,
"You find yourself setting up things that kids could be actively doing ICT-wise, but we've still got to remember that they're still only 9, 10, 11, and some of them, a lot of them, still need basic reading, writing, maths skills. If they don't have them, then, that's going to all be their downfall later on anyway, so it's trying to find that happy medium between using ICT to still help those basic literacy and numeracy skills, but not to use that at the detriment of their progress in that way."
In contrast, while teachers in School B were using ICT, it tended to be in order to support rather than change existing pedagogy. ICT was used to do the same tasks in a different way, as this example shows,
"I integrate more in maths now, and science, so that we do a lot of paper work and calculations, for graphs and stuff, but then, the next step, we repeat the whole process on Excel, and you know, whether it's making up science graphs or maths calculations and stuff. A lot of it is quite good and the kids quite enjoy that next step. But they're a lot like me, whenever we've come back to it they've forgotten."
The limited access to computers in the classroom may have contributed to this. In this school most rooms had only one computer, making it difficult to use computers as a regular part of the school day. Access was augmented by a central laboratory, where activities such as that described previously could be done.
By round 4, the teachers in School C had mixed feelings about the effects the TELA project had on their teaching. All teachers felt it was having some effect, but the type of effect varied. The ICT coordinator talked about the resources that were available, the increase in her own knowledge and the role ICT played in students' learning. Another teacher at School C felt it had "affected my planning which rolls over to your teaching", while another teacher felt she had become more "adventurous". Only one teacher commented on a change in the way she taught, noting that using the interactive whiteboard had "changed the way I teach reading".
In School D, teachers were able to identify ways in which ICT had been integrated into teaching and learning since the inception of the TELA project. The principal explained that the initial impact was on "planning and administration, but now we are moving into a stage where it is impacting on the way teachers teach . . . it's probably extended the range of activities and things". The ICT coordinator commented that ICT is,
"Becoming more integrated into the planning and into my thinking . . . you automatically think, oh yes we can do that or can make do there or you could do this or you could take some photos and make a photo story or you could do a PowerPoint . . . not think you can make a chart or draw a picture."
While it seemed that ICT was integrated to a greater extent in her teaching, it did not seem to have changed the way she taught. The difference lay more in how tasks were done, rather than what kinds of teaching occurred.
Teachers in School E also reported using ICT in a variety of ways in the classroom by round 4. Most teachers used it mainly as an alternative way of doing tasks they had always done, such as word processing or using the Internet for research, although one teacher was creating a blog with her students. Another teacher talked about the kinds of things she currently did,
"I've done it for presentations for the children, I use it for keeping their photos and doing loops on it, so the kids can actually enjoy seeing themselves when they were five, and now when they're Year 8 or 8-year-olds. The games for the kids, all those problem-solving ones."
In the final round of interviews, comments from most teachers suggested they had continued to progress in terms of their use of ICT and changes in pedagogy. Interestingly, although the teachers in School A were those who had consistently talked about the importance of considering pedagogy when using ICT, and how it allowed them to rethink practices, they were also those who talked about how far they had to go. As their principal explained,
"Even though we've done some quite nice things and done lots of different things and children have lots of opportunities, I still think we are just scratching the surface and it just comes down to people being busy and also you've got a generation of teachers who are building new understandings on top of past practices. And we haven't got to the stage yet where the technology all fits seamlessly into what you are trying to achieve and trying to do."
A teacher concurred, commenting that it was about how they could "harness the technology to make the literacy, numeracy even better . . . it's almost like trying to think about learning in a different way". The teacher went on to reflect on how their use of technology had changed,
"It's just so normal now, it's like I can't even think back. Well I can, I can sort of think of using CD ROMs to do reading activities or you know, that sort of thing or maths games, but we certainly you know the access to information that children can have and how you can actually try and teach them how to find what they need to find and how to cross-reference and things like that. Probably never used to do that before. And I think it's hopefully just modeling to them that although they might use the Internet for quiet, entertainment purposes that you know, they see that we just use it seamlessly and it's about learning. And it's about, I mean it can be entertaining too but trying to show them the various ways that it can be harnessed as well."
In School B, there had not been the same level of change. One teacher commented that having the laptop had not affected his teaching. The ICT coordinator commented that, "with a lot of teachers it's been pretty slow, like that they've learned to do a lot of administrative functions, just to do that. Their planning and their assessments and just having it all in a central place", although having data projectors had made some differences. The principal recognised that they had a way to go, commenting that the plan for future is around: "How we want to use it and also the thinking skills connected with it. And just that whole thing this just isn't for email".
By round 5, teachers in School C all felt that their teaching had changed. As one teacher explained, "it's more about them finding out than me telling them". For some teachers the change was more about the extent of ICT use and how work was done rather than the underlying pedagogy. A teacher explained how she used ICT in her class,
"I use a lot of interactive things with the kids. I demonstrate whole class, not very much whole class, and then use [the interactive whiteboard] as a teaching station. Or use it as a practice station depending on what's happening. The computers usually have either one or two children at a computer doing interactive activities to support their learning. Often taught on the active, shown how to use them on the active board and then access them themselves on the computer."
By round 4, teachers at School D had been beginning to think about the way in which they used ICT in the classroom. Comments made in round 5 showed that they continued on this journey, particularly as the school was participating in an inquiry-based programme. As the principal explained,
"I think it is filtering down now to classrooms particularly looking at the inquiry approach, where a lot more children are accessing the computer to find out information or check on something or look at timetables . . . that sort of information, so, whereas they might have had to wait until they were in the library. Now they can access something, whenever almost instantly from the classroom . . . So yeah it is, it is changing um, information gathering in that respect."
It seems, though, that they were still at an early stage of this journey, with changes generally restricted to information access, rather than changes in pedagogy as a whole.
Pedagogy seemed to have changed to a lesser degree in School E than in the other schools involved in this research. Individual teachers were making use of ICT, but generally as an alternative way of doing tasks, such as using PowerPoint for presentations, or the Internet for information, rather than through changes in the way they thought about teaching and learning. The ICT coordinator commented that,
"There have been huge shifts . . . But we still haven't probably pushed that enough, and the bit that I find disappointing is, we know how to use a laptop but we haven't really, you know, picked up that ICT and run with it for the kids."
Overall, then, it appears that the impact on pedagogy had varied, both between teachers and between schools. The following table summarises the differing views on pedagogical change in each of the five schools, with comments chosen that represent the views of teachers in each school.
|School||Comments Made in Round 5|
There's been a strong impact on children because the way teachers work has shifted, the way they think about work has shifted.
It's gotta be, it's almost like trying to think about learning in a different way.
Has it affected my teaching? No not really.
Their planning and their assessments and just having it all in a central place . . . certainly the projectors and that, is changing the way we teach, slowly.
The way I teach has changed heaps.
It's more about them finding out than me telling them.
|D||It is filtering down now to classrooms particularly looking at the inquiry approach . . . it is changing information gathering.|
|E||Have been some huge shifts . . . but we haven't picked up that ICT and run with it for the kids.|
Early in the project few teachers identified any additional demands that had been placed on schools as a result of the TELA project. This may have been for two reasons. Firstly, teachers had little, if any, role in the general school administration and therefore may have been unaware of demands that may have been placed on the school because of the project. Secondly, early in the project teachers may still have been exploring what they could do with their laptops and had not got to the stage where they appreciated their full potential. By the end of 2007, however, participants from all schools had identified ways in which the laptop scheme had resulted in additional demands for them or their schools, either directly or indirectly.
In School A the provision of the TELA laptops had lead to an increasing demand for using the ICT currently available in the school, and for more of it. The increased use meant reliability became more important, while there were increased demands on storage. Teachers were also working more and harder, and increasingly worked from home. This led to the demand for teachers to be able to access the school's intranet from their homes, something that was implemented the following year. This, in turn, led to at least one teacher getting broadband at home, so they could make good use of this. The school's wireless network was also upgraded and expanded, while the demand for a wide range of ICT and peripherals, including data projectors, cameras, speakers had also increased.
School B also needed to upgrade their wireless network as a result of the TELA scheme, while the demand for technical support increased in general, as staff wanted the technology they used to be reliable to alleviate frustration. They wanted more knowledge on how to make best use of their current ICT, as well as additional technology. One of the issues that arose was a lack of space and suitable space in classrooms, which made using the technology they had difficult.
The provision of laptops had workload implications, with the principal noting that, "it has increased the hours of work . . . for a lot of the teachers here . . . and the job/personal life has blurred". The teachers agreed, commenting that they sometimes wasted a lot of time using their laptops. One teacher from School B said, "I really have to make myself sometimes not take it home, because I can… waste quite a lot time on it. . . You kind of save time but you waste time and I'll just think, I'll just write this up now, and really I need to pack it away and just have some 'no-school' time.
As in School A and School B, having the TELA laptops had led to increased demand for ICT in general by teachers at School C. Teachers at School C, like those in School B, identified the need for more professional development and more time for this, and for technical support that was more readily available. At times there were problems with the wireless network and with synchronising the laptops with the school system.
Having the laptops, and being part of an ICT professional development cluster, had led to several additional demands. There was a growing need for more than one computer in a classroom, and for additional peripherals such as cameras. The school had upgraded their server to accommodate the laptops, and had just upgraded their network. Initially there had been an increase in frustration with the technology, but that was,
"Getting less and less and less because the technology is improving all the time and, much of that side of frustration is just usually your own and not the equipment at all, and so as people's skills are up, improving, their ability to solve their own problems is increasing and so on."
When asked about the effect of the TELA scheme on School E, the principal commented that it had been "hugely expensive", often in unexpected ways such as through increased printing costs. They had also reconfigured their network to allow teachers access to it via their laptops, something that was not available for most of the project. One of the teachers noted that her workload had increased, as she now spent time helping others use their laptops. Teachers generally expressed a need for increased access to immediate technical support, and access to ICT other than their laptops. One of the issues with this was that there was insufficient space in many of the classrooms to add additional computers, a problem that also faced those in School B.
Participants identified ways in which the TELA scheme made additional demands on their time. Early in the research teachers talked about the time it could take when using ICT, owing to having to learn new skills, set up equipment and deal with problems. Several teachers commented that tasks took longer than they had previously, although by the end of the project teachers were commenting that they were now saving time by using the laptop, and working directly onto them. The ability for teachers to be able to work at home was seen as a great advantage of the TELA scheme; however, several also commented that it meant that they now did more work at home, and worked for longer.
Another area in which having a laptop had a negative impact on teachers was financially. A number of teachers found that in order to make best use of the laptop they had to have a home Internet connection, while several also used printer ink and paper at home, which had financial implications. Others deliberately chose not to print at home, in order to reduce the cost.
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