TELA: Laptops for teachers evaluation: Final report years 7 & 8

Publication Details

The purpose of this evaluation was to investigate the impacts of the Laptops for Teachers Scheme: TELA (referred to from here as the TELA scheme) on teachers’ work over a period of three years (2004-2006) and to record emerging changes in laptop use.

This evaluation report presents findings from three annual cycles of national focus groups and questionnaires with Year 7 and 8 teachers in New Zealand primary and intermediate schools.

Author(s): Bronwen Cowie, Alister Jones and Ann Harlow with Mike Forret, Clive McGee and Thelma Miller

Date Published: June 2008

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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.

Chapter 6: Sustaining Changes in Teacher Laptop Use

Based on previous years’ findings on the kind of support teachers felt was necessary for them to use their laptops effectively in their teaching, the 2006 questionnaire listed a number of factors that may have influenced teachers in their use of laptops in the classroom. Teachers were asked to note the importance of each factor to their own use of the laptop in the classroom at the time of responding. Table 19 shows the proportion of teachers who regarded each factor as ‘very important’.

Table 19: Very important influences on teachers’ laptop use in the classroom (2006)
Count Percent
School Networking 101 68
Prompt Technical Assistance 87 58
Time to Experiment 77 52
Easy Access to Equipment 69 46
PD/Support 61 41
Leadership Support 61 41
Collaborative Culture 47 32

Teachers were asked to rate each factor independently and so were able to select more than one factor as being ‘very important’. In many cases they selected a combination of factors. Around three fifths (68%) of teachers selected school networking and school connections, and prompt technical assistance. Time to experiment and practice with use of the laptop for teaching was considered to be very important for around half (52%) of the 2006 questionnaire respondents.

When teachers were then asked to indicate the ‘most important’ influence from this list of seven factors over a quarter (27%) chose ‘time to experiment and practice with use of the laptop for teaching’ as being the most important factor. Just under a fifth selected easy access to equipment (18%), and professional development and support (17%) as the most important influence on their use of the laptop. Taking ‘time’ and ‘professional development and support’ together, means that almost half (44%) selected factors associated with their having time and opportunity to learn more as the most important influence on their laptop use.

Table 20: Most important influences on teachers’ use of laptops in the classroom (2006)
(n=149) %
(n=36) %
(n=103) %
(n=10) %
Time to Experiment 27 25 26 40
Access to Equipment 18 36 13 10
PD/Support 17 6 21 10
Technical Assistance 15 14 17 0
School Connections 13 11 13 20
Leadership Support 3 3 3 0
Collaborative Culture 3 6 3 0

Looking across the factors, as shown in Table 20, those who rated themselves as expert users identified ‘access to equipment’ (36% - 18% overall) as the most important influence in a greater proportion than the norm and either beginners or intermediate users. Just over three-fifths identified technological infrastructure issues as the most important influence on their laptop use.

Intermediate users were more likely to rate support related needs. Nearly half of those who rated themselves as intermediate users or beginners identified professional learning needs (time and professional development) as the most important.

A higher proportion of beginners selected ‘time to experiment’ (40% - 27% overall) and ‘school connections’ (20% - 13% overall), suggesting that they were aware of their own knowledge and expertise as a limit on their laptop use as well as the necessity of having good school connections. Perhaps this was because accessing the Internet and emailing tended to be the first tasks that beginners became comfortable and confident with.

The findings indicate that over a third of the teachers rated each of the listed factors as ‘very important’ (and around a fifth of teachers considered each to be ‘quite important’) suggesting it is not sufficient to consider professional development, available ICT infrastructure, resources and support, and teacher confidence and expertise in isolation. It is the convergence of teacher confidence and expertise, the professional development they receive, as well as access to reliable ICT resources that supports the integration of the laptops into teachers’ professional lives. It is these factors in combination that support and sustain, and or inhibit teacher use of laptops/ICT. Individually and in combination they are manifest as enablers and constraints in different ways in different school settings and in different forms at different stages in teacher and school integration of the use of laptops/ICT.