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
Date Published: May 2010
1. IntroductionIn October 2004, a team of researchers at the University of Otago College of Education were contracted by the Ministry of Education to conduct a long-term qualitative evaluation of the impact of primary school teachers’ access to laptops as a result of the Laptops for Teachers Scheme (TELA)1. Parallel independent evaluations are also being conducted by two other research centres in New Zealand, at the University of Waikato (Cowie & Jones, 2005; Cowie et al., 2006; Cowie et al, 2008a, 2008b) and the University of Auckland (Parr & Ward, 2006).
1.1 The TELA scheme
The first ICT Strategy for Schools document was released by the Ministry of Education in 1998. The goals of this strategy were to build infrastructure and school capability. It was followed in July 2001 by a discussion document (a draft strategy for 2002-2004) (Ministry of Education, 2001) and then in June 2002 by the new strategy: Digital Horizons: Learning through ICT (Ministry of Education, 2002). This second strategy focused on the challenge of integrating ICT more fully into curriculum practice. It was replaced in 2006 by the new e-Learning Action Plan for Schools. The Laptops for Teachers Scheme is one of a number of projects that fall under the strategic direction of the Digital Horizons (2003) strategy.
As an initiative of the Digital Horizons strategy (Ministry of Education, 2003), the Laptop for Teachers Scheme (TELA) began in 2003, replacing the previous provision of Laptops to Secondary School Teachers (STELA) Scheme that had begun in 2002. The TELA scheme extended the STELA project from Years 9 to 13 to include Years 7 and 8 teachers in the 2003/2004 Budget. This was further expanded for Years 4 to 6 in the 2004/2005 Budget, and for Years 1 to 3 teachers in July 2005. Under the scheme, approved applicants would be reimbursed for approximately 2/3 of the costs of leasing a laptop. Schools could choose to pay the remaining 1/3 for their teachers. The participating schools were then additionally obliged to meet the cost over the three years of the lease for the necessary ICT infrastructure, professional development and technical support (Ministry of Education, 2005).
The scheme now applies to all permanent full-time and part-time teachers in state and integrated schools working with Years 1 to 13 classes. The vision behind this initiative was to provide a teaching tool to all teachers, ensuring the development of greater confidence and competence in the use of information and communications technology (ICT).
1.2 The current study
This report addresses the following research questions:
- Why do primary teachers participate in the TELA initiative? What are their goals and expectations of laptop use?
- To what extent does having a set of goals and objectives of laptop use affect how and when teachers use the laptop computers?
- What are the impacts of the TELA initiative on teachers’ professional growth and collaboration opportunities, access to, and creation of, quality ICT-based teaching and learning and assessment resources, as well as on their lesson planning, preparation and administration?
- Are there any changes of attitudes, beliefs, and values of teachers about the use of ICT in teaching and learning as a result of the TELA initiative?
- What pedagogical approaches do teachers use in their teaching with ICT as a result of an increase in ICT skills and confidence?
- To what extent has the school supported teachers’ participation in the TELA initiative, as reflected in the school’s ICT and professional development plans?
- How important is the school and work culture in affecting teachers’ laptop use? In what way does the TELA initiative change the culture of the school?
- What is the role and importance of the school leadership and planning in fostering change?
- What, if any, additional demands has the TELA initiative placed on schools, in terms of teachers requiring access to the Internet and network from their classrooms and their homes or access to peripherals such as data projectors and printers?
It does this by reporting on five rounds of interviews with teachers, ICT coordinators and principals of five Otago schools, carried out between 2005 and 2008. Interviews were used to determine the participants’ perspectives pertaining to the current and future use of laptops for teachers in New Zealand primary schools, and the impact of the TELA scheme.
The report begins by providing some background information with regard to the TELA scheme and the use of ICT in New Zealand, as well as similar national and international projects, in order to provide a context for this evaluation. It then provides information regarding the schools participating in the evaluation, the data collection methods and objectives. The methodology underpinning data collection is then detailed. The findings of the report are discussed, under each of the major probed thematic clusters: school factors, personal factors, and the impact of the laptop. The discussion explores how the impact of the laptop project has been mediated by factors at a school and personal level and summarises answers to the research questions.
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