Integration or Transformation?

A cross-national study of information and communication technology in school education



Glossary and acronyms

4: Results

1: Introduction and the research problem

5: Discussion

2: Literature review


3: Research design and methodology




Chapter 2.                  Review of the Literature

2.1         Introduction

In the history of education, the 1980s will stand out as the decade during which many countries throughout the world introduced computers in education on a large scale, the first stage of a technological innovation which is unprecedented in its scope.                         (Plomp et al. 1996, p. 1).

Tjeerd Plomp’s introduction to one of the largest cross-national reviews of ICT in education carries an historical viewpoint as well as a judgment. The historical viewpoint identifies the 1980s as the decade in which mainframe computers were supplanted by personal computers on business desks and in homes, also making them immediately accessible to schools and classrooms. It remains to be seen if his judgement was accurate about this being the first stage of a highly significant technological innovation in education. 


The focus of this literature review is to examine the background of ICT in schools, and to see what models of stages of development have been developed and used. The review uses the research questions as a framework, looking at policy, implementation and practice and teacher professional development before examining existing models that have been used to structure thinking in the field. The chapter highlights general theories of innovation diffusion, of which the development of ICT in school education is a particular instance. It also analyses the rate of change of the technology behind ICT, because this is an important feature of the field. Findings from previous international studies help to establish the current context of the study, and meta-studies focus on the debate about effectiveness and efficiency of ICT in educational contexts. The final section includes some other relevant factors influencing the use of ICT in schools.


2.2         National ICT policies in the field of education (RQ1)

Schools in many countries are now equipped with computers, networking and Internet connections. It is important to establish what are the expected purposes and the complex influences behind this growth of ICT in school education. It will be demonstrated that there is considerable coherence between agreed policy rationales and technological drivers for change in the field which have combined to promote this growth. However, it will also be shown that international studies demonstrate a lack of success in achieving widespread good use of ICT in school classrooms.


Despite questions about their nature, national policies for ICT in schools are now widespread amongst developed and developing countries (Nleya, 1998; Kearns, 2002). These overarching policies are reflected in policies developed at other administrative levels, such as state, municipal school board, school and even classroom level, where an individual teacher may have personal rules for the equitable use of a relatively expensive piece of equipment (Kogan, 1978, p.123). ICT appeared to become a significant issue for national policy when international digital communications were promoted by USA vice president Al Gore using the phrase “information superhighway” (Gore, 1994a; Holmes, Savage & Tangney, 2000, sect. 3.3.3). The extensive emergence of policies in this field has subsequently been independent of governmental structure or political persuasion, despite the expectation that these variables affect policy (Dahl & Tufte, 1973, p. 37; Pownall, 1999; Dimitrov & Goetz, 2000, p. 2). The question to ask therefore is what has caused this prevalence of such policies: does it have a social or a technological reason, or both?


The social explanation can be examined from the perspective of interactions between elements of executive power (Dogan, 1975; Page & Wright, 1999; Schmidt, 2001) such as the politicians, professionals and bureaucrats (Lawton, 1986, p. 35). Each of these three groups applied their own schema of values to the situation under consideration, and consequently came to different policy recommendations. The political view of policy-making examines forms of governance and patterns of influence, as these maintain or change social structure. An ideological view considers ways of discussing policy and looks at education as a vehicle for the transmission of culture between generations. The third, economic, view looks at the funding of education and compares this to its contribution to productivity and profit. The synthesis of these views implies that education policy is generated by the interaction of lobbyists (Milio, 1988, p. 109) and others such as politicians, professionals and bureaucrats who use political, ideological and economic lenses. Understanding the role of political organization and structure is seen as a vital factor in establishing the future of technology in social evolution (RAND, 2002).


This categorisation of power elements in policy development is congruent with other writers about the area of ICT in education (Fabos & Young, 1999, p. 218; OECD, 2001b; Capper, 2003, p.63). Hawkridge (1989) defined three rationales for policy visions which might impact upon the adoption of computers in education as:

·      vocational rationale, necessary for a society to satisfy its requirement to have skilled technological workers, relating learning to future jobs and careers;

·      social rationale reflecting the belief that all students should know about and be familiar with computers as a preparation for active roles in society, and especially to become well-informed citizens;

·      pedagogical rationale which realises the role of computers to improve and enhance teaching and learning.


The vocational rationale is frequently associated with broader policy considerations generally implied by the phrase ‘knowledge economy’ (Commission of the European Communities, 2002; National Office for the Information Economy, 2002). This reflects the way in which ICT-related business has become a significant proportion of national accounts, and is growing so quickly (OECD, 2002, p.3). Translated into education policy, this has meant a concentration on directing resources into student:computer ratios, school Internet connections and technical support (Byrom, 1997, 1998; Birch, 1999). It is therefore appropriate to relabel the ‘vocational rationale’ of Hawkridge, making the three distinct rationales for ICT in school education the economic, social and pedagogic.


The policy drivers for ICT in school education have been reinforced by technological drivers. A common understanding of the nature of policy development is its cyclic nature (Jenkins, 1978, p. 17; Bridgeman & Davis, 1998, p. 24). However, the rate of policy revision and new policy development can be high when environmental considerations raise new and important issues on a frequent basis. This is certainly the case with ICT, where both the underlying technology is developing at a significant rate, as is its deployment and inter-connection. These aspects are illustrated by the exponential rise of processor clock speeds and world-wide-web connections in Figure 2 and Figure 3.


Figure 2: Maximum announced microprocessor clock speed for each year (Fisher Pry trends line)

(Palmer & Williams, 1999)


Figure 3: Hobbes’ Internet Timeline - the growth of hosts and the world-wide-web

(Zakon, 1999)

Although processor speeds in the Palmer and Williams analysis are predicted to peak in 2008-2010, new substrates such as gallium arsenide or diamond (GaAsNet, 2000; Diamond Systems and Sources, 2000) and copper chip tracks (IBM, 1999) make it reasonable to expect ICT will continue to develop in accordance with ‘Moore’s Law’, with capacity doubling every 12-18 months (Moore, 1997; Bitter & Pierson, 2002,    p. 1). An example of an issue generated by expanding hard-disk drive capacities has been the production of ‘Replay-TV’ devices which take the advertising out of commercial television, thus undermining the economic basis for all commercial television stations (Carrick, 2002). This evidence of a high rate of development contributes significantly towards the suggestion that technology is a significant driver of ICT in schools, alongside any policy drivers. International studies of ICT in education have provided more information about the way in which these parallel political and technological forces have acted.


Six international studies were selected on the basis of their sample size, the wide range of sampled countries and their recency for this part of the review. They are summarised in Table 1.


Table 1: Details of selected international studies into ICT in education


Sample range

Date of data


Plomp, Anderson & Kontogiannopoulou-Polydorides (Eds.), 1996

IEA CompEd study

19 countries, 69,000 students

1989 and 1992

Most countries were concentrating efforts on overcoming barriers to integration of ICT in classroom practice. Top-down diffusion was only effective when mandatory

Collis, 1993


ITEC study

16 countries

680 students


Students using computers displayed higher-order cognitive functions.

Knezek, Miyashita, & Sakamoto, 1994

YCCI study

3 countries

8-21 schools


Young children are positive about computers.

Mullis et al., 1997


45 countries


Student home access to computers varied from 20% to 80% across Europe.

Eurydice, 2001

Basic indicators on the incorporation of ICT into European Educational Systems.

15 countries


Education policies are increasingly geared to the use of ICT.

OECD, 2001

Schooling for tomorrow

16 countries


National policy approaches identify digital literacy as an important and sophisticated set of competencies.


What these international studies reveal is a range of problems in the implementation of  policies for ICT in schools which are gradually being overcome. The barriers to adoption were identified by the CompEd and Schooling for Tomorrow studies as the lack of, or incorrectly placed equipment and software, teacher attitudes and the continuing requirement for high stakes entrance examinations to be completed in handwriting (Plomp, Anderson & Kontogiannopoulou-Polydorides, 1996, pp.11 & 17; OECD, 2001, p.13; Eurydice, 2001, p. 19). The Schooling for Tomorrow project was led by an international working group which conducted a government-level country questionnaire and consulted a network of students to write their report. The authoritative and diverse sources of data were strengths of the project, but the methodology was not evaluated by the authors for a measure of internal consistency to be used in comparison with other studies. The older CompEd study used a far larger dataset with a wider geographical distribution of countries, collecting data from randomly selected students with modal ages of 10 and 13 and those in the penultimate year of schooling. The project also surveyed the principal, computer coordinator and the students’ teachers. CompEd and the IEA – TIMSS study both reported that most classrooms had computers, but the use of ICT was generally low with the latter study showing that computers were only frequently used in 10 percent of classrooms of the USA  (Mullis et al., 1997, pp. 6 & 162). The IEA-TIMSS study was also based upon a survey, focused on science and mathematics education, with extensive data checking and high internal consistency (Mullis et al., 1997, p. A25).


Despite these difficulties and indicators that ICT in schools was not ubiquitous or well used, there was agreement among the studies that the thrust of policy was at the level of integration within the classroom (Kearns, 2002, p. ii). This was being achieved through policies designed to achieve critical levels of equipment and teacher training (Eurydice, 2001, pp. vii & 17; OECD, 2001, pp.16 & 93).  Progress towards this goal was being achieved through a combination of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ innovation diffusion processes (Plomp et al., 1996, p. 23). The ‘top-down’ approach expressed in the form of directives in public policy documents appeared only to work when made mandatory. ‘Bottom-up’ approaches were found to be a necessary complement in Bulgaria and the Netherlands. Home access as a ‘bottom-up’ strategy was investigated by the IEA-TIMSS study which found that more than 59 percent of Year 8 students in Australia, USA and England had access to computers outside school (Mullis et al., 1997, p.163) and the CompEd study found boys were more likely than girls in most countries to use this facility (Anderson and Lundmark, 1996). The importance of extending learning at home through the use of ICT was strongly supported in the Schooling for Tomorrow project (OECD, 2001, p.97-99).


The YCCI study used an attitudinal study in a sample of North American, Mexican and Japanese primary schools (Knezek et al., 1994). The survey instrument’s internal consistency reliability estimates can be considered acceptable for the English-language and Japanese-language versions with the sub-scales ranging from 0.6 to 0.85 (DeVellis, 1991, p.85). It found that young children were positive about computers (Knezek et al., 1994, p. 7); a finding echoed by the ITEC study which used interviews of principals, observation checklists and videotaping of classrooms using ICT in exemplary ways with students aged 9-10 (Collis, 1993). The ITEC videotapes were analysed by the international project team which found students used higher order cognitive behaviours and were co-operative, motivated and self-confident when using computers in supportive environments. Given the greater range of countries in this study, its results can be supported as being more generalisable than the cross-cultural YCCI study.


2.2.1      Issues from the literature about policy for ICT in school education

It can be seen from the international studies that the current policy thrust for ICT in school education is focused on integration, with positive student attitudes and motivation being the main observable outcomes. Additional studies continue, such as the IEA SITES (M1 & M2) extension of the CompEd work, which has highlighted increasing autonomy of student learning as an outcome of ICT use (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, 1999, Fig. 2).



2.3         Implementation and practice (RQ2)

The previous section identified evidence in the literature that ICT is not being extensively or well used in school classrooms. These difficulties in implementation are now referred to the literature in two distinct ways. The first will be through a critique of language used to describe important ideas in the area and examination of the rationales for relevant policies.. This will be followed by a second approach which looks at ICT innovation in schools as a branch of the extensive literature about innovation diffusion.


Descriptive terms concerning ICT use warrant further investigation to clarify what various proponents mean by them. The key words encountered in the literature of this field are ‘integration’ and ‘effectiveness’, often confounded in studies which set out to determine the value of ICT in learning (Woodhurst, 2002). The term ‘integration’ relates to the way in which ICT is incorporated into student learning, and this can be treated separately from its consequences. The literature of the ‘effectiveness’ of ICT integration can therefore be examined as a distinct area. For the purposes of this review, the following definitions were adopted:

ICT integration is the degree to which ICT vanishes into the background of the classroom learning activity.

ICT effectiveness is the degree to which ICT improves or broadens learning outcomes and/or the rate of their achievement by students.


Therefore ICT integration can be seen as an important factor that may lead to ICT effectiveness. The economic, social and pedagogic policy rationales (Hawkridge, 1989) will be examined against this understanding of ICT effectiveness.


2.3.1      The pedagogical rationale

The pedagogical rationale is founded upon the assumption that ICT can improve student learning. Therefore it is appropriate to begin discussion of the pedagogical rationale by examining instrumentation for measuring ICT integration as the first step for any study purporting to evaluate ICT effectiveness. Several methods for evaluating ICT integration have been proposed (Bingham, 2000; see Table 17 in Appendix 6.7). These measures share a number of factors with general measures of school effectiveness, such as instructional leadership by the principal, an emphasis on basic skill areas (i.e., reading and mathematics), high expectations for pupils by teachers, enhanced time on task by pupils, an orderly school environment and frequent assessment of pupil progress (Adams & Ginsburg, 1997, p. 3). Of these factors, the ones which matter most and which are alterable were found to be orderly school climate, high teacher expectations for student performance and strong principal leadership (Stringfield & Herman, 1995). There was little difference between these measures of ICT integration and general school effectiveness, with only two specifically ICT-related items, technology capacity and system capacity on the ‘seven dimensions for gauging progress of technology in the schools’ measure from the Milken Family Foundation (Lemke and Coughlin, 1998). Bender (2000) investigated the top 5 schools in Iowa using a set of 11 open-ended questions for teachers (Cronbach alpha of only 0.47) and a 21-item classroom observation schedule which had a Cronbach alpha of 0.88 for internal reliability.  Together these two methods assessed teachers’ philosophies and expectations of technology for learning and the degree to which they were implemented in practice, giving it a claim to strength. This and similar instruments, have been used to assess ICT integration and its impact in schools. However, from the preceding discussion, it is clear that measuring integration alone is not enough. We need to look at ICT effectiveness measures, and find out which of these most adequately distinguishes whatever ICT can bring to the learning process.


McDougall (2001) suggests that ICT effectiveness can be assessed “from two rather different, though related, viewpoints”. The first is to examine ICT as an improver of conventional education using experimental and control groups. The other is to consider education with ICT to be so different that additional factors need to be quantified to allow a comparison to be made. The following review of ICT effectiveness uses a similar approach, looking at meta-studies to examine the evidence drawn from the experimental tradition. It then draws upon the descriptive studies before comparing these with critical material in the interests of academic rigour and evaluation.  Experimental evidence from meta-studies

A selection of meta-studies of ICT effectiveness in education is shown in Table 2. These meta-studies were chosen for the large number of individual studies represented between them, and for the geographic spread of their samples.


Table 2: Meta-studies of ICT effectiveness in education




Sivin-Kachala & Bialo, 1996



176 studies

ICT has positive effects upon learning. “low achieving students and students with little prior content knowledge are likely to require more structure and instructional guidance than other students” (p.2)

Software and Information Industry Association, 1999


264 studies:

112 professional journal articles plus 44 doctoral dissertations

Teachers with more than 10 hours of training used ICT better.

Sinko & Lehtinen, 1999


795 studies

ICT has a positive effect upon learning (ranging from 0.28 to 0.5) (see Table 18 in Appendix 6.7)

Parr, 2000

New Zealand

23 meta-studies

Overall, the effectiveness of computer-assisted learning has not been conclusively demonstrated

Used effect size of 0.4 as a benchmark.


In most of the above meta-studies, the component studies of ICT effectiveness are compared with one another using the effect size. This has a value of 1.0 if the learning outcomes for a group of students increase by a standard deviation, which equates to 84 percent of an experimental group scoring better than the mean of the control group. The report by Sivin-Kachala and Bialo (1996) found positive gains in educational achievement by students using computers. A larger meta-analysis (Software & Information Industry Association, 1999) was potentially biased by commercial concerns, since over 2,000 sources were reduced to 264. As with all meta-studies, the report faced problems of equating data and findings from a range of sources using sometimes conflicting premises or definitions. These were mostly overcome by eliminating a large number of reports that were weak in methodology (e.g., comparisons of a computer-based instructional treatment to no alternative treatment). The report concluded that educational technology had a significant, positive effect upon student achievement in all subject areas, from Kindergarten to Year 12. It also had positive effects upon student attitudes to learning. These outcomes were dependent upon various factors such as level of access to technology, software design, student grouping and nature. Teachers with more than 10 hours of training significantly outperformed those with five hours or less. This finding is important to the question of establishing the necessary and sufficient conditions for positive ICT effectiveness.


The Finnish-based study by Sinko and Lehintin is a rather more substantial work, which was produced by a group of national experts based on over a thousand original research reports. The report deals carefully with potential sources of error, such as the greater likelihood of positive findings to be published, and found that for the early 1990s studies of teaching effectiveness with ICT the effect size, purged of the novelty (Hawthorne) effect, was between 0.30 and 0.40 (Sinko & Lehtinen, 1999, p. 40). More recent studies produced an effect size of this order, with diminishing effectiveness as group size increased (Sinko & Lehtinen, 1999, p. 43). This finding was developed by Parr who compared it with a benchmark for any school innovation of 0.4 (Parr, 2000, section A:1.4). Parr’s own investigation of ICT and Independent Learning System effectiveness through meta-analysis found “few studies that yield an effect size that could be considered more than moderate (.3)” (Parr, 2000, section A:2.8). Sinko and Lehtinen agree with Parr on the general size of ICT effectiveness, but disagree about the interpretation. Parr asks us to judge ICT against other (unspecified) educational interventions or innovations. Sinko and Lehtinen ask us to make the judgement between using ICT and doing nothing additional in the classroom. There are good reasons for both approaches. If an additional input (such as ICT) is being contemplated, then to compare its effect against other ways to expend the resources is a valid consideration. ICT appears to be as effective as other innovations, so the pedagogical rationale can be substantiated, but not to a higher degree than other forms of intervention. Sinko and Lehtinen also suggest the social rationale is an important factor in choosing ICT over other innovations, since it can be considered “a tool against alienation” (2000, p. 242).  Descriptive studies of ICT in education

This finding that ICT effectiveness is comparable with that of other innovations when measured using experimental methods needs to be compared with the descriptive studies which are now reviewed. A number of descriptive studies were selected for review on the basis of study size (in terms of the absolute number of students involved) and their generalisability. The studies are summarised in Table 3.


Table 3: Descriptive studies of ICT in education


Type of Project


Validity, reliability and generalisability

Becta, 2001a & b



Schools of the Future

Statistical analyses of reports of ICT use in 2100 schools correlated with pupil achievements

Correlation between ICT use and improved results, even within similar socio-economic bands.

Methodologically flawed since the analysis compared outlier sub-groups.

Harrison, Comber, Fisher, Haw, Lewin, Lunzer, McFarlane,  Mavers, Scrimshaw, Somekh, & Watling, 2001


60 schools in England - data collected using computer logs, questionnaires and concept mapping

Primary students use ICT three times more at home than at school, and secondary students 4 times more. Interim results suggest ICT is not being used to its full potential to transform learning.

In every case except one the study found evidence of a positive relationship between ICT use and educational attainment.

Mann, Shakeshaft, Becker & Kottkamp, 1999

West Virginia

Statewide, 10 year study

Significant gains in reading, writing and mathematics; ICT more cost-effective than class size reduction; successful with low income and rural students, as well as with girls.

ICT has improved since then.

Pisapia, Coukos & Knutson, 2000

34 schools over three years with five computers and a colour printer in every classroom

It will take 5 years before the full impact of the initiative will be seen. ICT individualises instruction. Some teachers move ‘backwards’.

Limited generalisability

Smerdon, Cronen, Lanahan, Anderson, Iannotti, Angeles & Greene, 2000

Analysis of statistical information gathered from three US national surveys.

Only half the teachers who had computers available used them to support student learning.

Useful generalisability in respect of teacher professional development needs.

Wenglinsky, 1998

6,227 fourth graders and 7,146 eighth graders

The impact of ICT depends upon how it is used by teachers. This in turn depends upon teacher PD.

Positive link between ICT use and achievement for 8th grade students.

Woodrow, 1999
Technology Enhanced Secondary Science Instruction (TESSI)

Seven classrooms over seven years

ICT improved secondary science results, and made classroom teaching more individualised.

Limited generalisability

It is in the nature of descriptive studies to uncover a variety of results, and as with all forms of research, they are subject to methodological criticism and have differing degrees of validity. Within this sample of such studies, there are however, agreements on four basic areas: that ICT can improve student learning outcomes (Mann et al., 1999; Woodrow, 1999; Becta, 2001a & b); ICT is not used to its full potential in schools (Pisiapia et al., 2000; Harrison et al., 2001); the impact of ICT depends very much upon teachers (Wnglinsky, 1998; Smerdon et al., 2000); and ICT can individualise instruction (Woodrow, 1999; Pisipaia et al., 2000). The descriptive studies show that ICT effectiveness has considerable potential in the pedagogical rationale when comparing student progress against nationally benchmarked learning outcomes. The Becta reports make a good case for the pedagogical rationale since they found statistical correlation between good ICT uses as observed by Ofsted inspectors and improved results on nationally benchmarked tests of English, Mathematics and Science. A similar correlation was found by the state-wide, decade long Basic Skills/Computer Education (BS/CE) project in West Virginia (Mann, Shakeshaft, Becker & Kottkamp, 1999). Using factor analysis within a regression model, eleven percent of annual basic skills achievement gains (as measured by the Stanford-9 test of mathematics, reading and language arts) of fifth-grade students above normal expected gains were ascribed to the BS/CE project. This finding was statistically significant at more than the .001 level. An economic analysis comparing teacher employment with project costs showed these gains were obtained in a more cost-effective way than reducing class sizes from an average of 21 pupils to 15. This particular study used a representative sample and data validation using multiple sources. It therefore might reasonably be taken as significant. The authors did state caveats as follows:

·      BS/CE was based upon instructional learning systems originally designed in 1989 when internet access was just a dream.

·      The pedagogy upon which these systems were based does not fit with more modern project or constructivist ways of learning.

·      BS/CE was designed for the circumstances and students of West Virginia, and may not therefore be transferable.                                                 (Mann et al., 1999, p.3)


This suggests that if the project were to be repeated with more recent technology, the results might be different. Both the Becta and West Virginia studies make a strong case for ICT effectiveness when judged against nationally benchmarked tests. The strength of this case is reduced somewhat when the Becta study considers groups of schools in outlier ICT use categories However, the methodology demonstrated this correlation irrespective of school management quality, subject or socio-economic background, and this adds significance to the findings. Making a judgement about the West Virginia project is also difficult, since the implication is that newer technology could generate even more positive results, but the mis-match between the BS/CE pedagogy and modern constructivist learning would make one hesitate to transfer it elsewhere. What these studies show is a potential for improvement of educational attainment.


Wenglinsky (1998) examined national standardised mathematics results and found the impact of ICT depends upon teacher professional development. Use of computer-based games positively related to academic achievement, especially in respect of 8th grade students (to the extent of a one third grade level); less so for 4th graders. The Harrison et al., (2001) ImpaCT2 study found evidence in every case except one, of a positive relationship between ICT use and educational attainment. The investigation was conducted by mapping ICT use at home, school and elsewhere against frequency of use to support each subject area through a student survey. These data were correlated with relative achievement on national standardised tests against an initial baseline test. This showed a statistically significant (p<0.05) positive effect for ICT. The results indicated that ICT was not being used to its full potential to transform learning, since relatively few lessons incorporated its use. Together these studies build on the case from Becta and West Virginia by showing learning improvement from ICT being greater for older students, and the importance of including the home environment in such considerations. The ImpaCT2 study confirms the results from the international studies reviewed previously in suggesting the overall amount of ICT use in schools is still quite low, and therefore the full effects have yet to be seen (Harrison et al., 2001).


This untapped potential is confirmed in the remaining descriptive studies. In the words of Seymour Papert, having described the rivalry between the USA and Europe to make ever-faster ships:

In the very same year the first commercial jet plane flew ... it became totally irrelevant which boat could travel faster across the Atlantic. I’d like you to hold that in your minds when thinking about school. Are we trying to perfect an obsolete system or are we trying to make the educational jet plane?                                                        (OECD, 2001, p. 112)

This rhetorical question needs to be considered from the point of view of the classroom teacher. His/her main aim for the school day is to survive the class and hope that every student will have learned something of value. Making educational jet planes is not in the job description. Thus in the USA, when Pisapia, Coukos & Knutseon (2000) investigated a computer enrichment project through in-depth analyses of randomly selected classes by classroom observations, focus group interviews, teacher surveys, and software-usage surveys they found that classroom teachers in primary schools changed their perception of computers from being mainly to extend and remediate the core curriculum, to mostly using them to reinforce the core curriculum. The teachers emphasized that they had to expend an almost

“overwhelming amount of energy to master the use of computers in their classrooms”, and their personal skill level largely determined the extent to which they were able to improve their instruction. This kind of barrier to innovation diffusion was also identified by Smerdon et al. (2000) through an extensive nationwide set of surveys which found that only half the teachers who had computers available used them to support student learning. One-third of teachers reported feeling well prepared or better to use ICT for classroom instruction:

Specifically, teachers who reported spending more than a day ( 9 hours or more) in professional development [related to ICT] were more likely to report feeling well prepared or very well prepared to use computers or the Internet than those who reported spending a day or less (fewer than 9 hours) in such activities.                  (Smerdon et al., 2000, pp. 83-84)

This is a helpful finding since it begins to quantify the amount of professional development teachers need to integrate ICT effectively into learning, and make possible an evaluation of its full educational potential.


Woodrow (1999) undertook a seven year, field-based research program of technology integration into secondary science (grades 9-12). The evaluation found better examination results for students in the program, greater participation in the sciences by girls in program schools, and evidence of a change from 50 percent teacher-directed to 80 percent student independent learning. Woodrow deduced that “... a properly conceived plan for using technology can result in the development of pedagogical strategies commensurate with learning needs” (p. 2). She went on to explain how this principle was adopted:

... Technology was not used in TESSI classrooms to simply automate a traditional model of education but to facilitate new ways of instruction and learning, ways to do things better. The program demonstrably produces greater success for more students, addresses issues of gender equity in the sciences, empowers teachers and students, is transferable to other classrooms and achieves long term student benefits.                                            (Woodrow, 1999, p.16)

The story, then, is one where some significant research has been done which measured ICT effectiveness against nationally benchmarked assessments of student learning outcomes, and has found some improvements. However, this empirical evidence also comes with the suggestion that these improvements are not entirely the end of the matter, because the actual amount of classroom use of ICT is quite low, and teachers require significant help in modifying practice to tap its potential.


The situation is illuminated by a range of writers who can collectively be called the critics of ICT in school education. The critics help us to focus on the issues which determine the useful areas of application and how this might be best addressed. Their observations are summarised in Table 4.


Table 4: Critics of ICT in school education


Summary of argument against ICT in education

Andrews, Burn, Leach, Locke, Low, & Torgerson, 2001

A systematic review

There cannot be much confidence in the results of studies because they fail to explain the mechanism by which ICT may have affected learning.

Armstrong & Casement, 2001



The child and the machine

Suggests there is little real evidence that CAI has educational potential because most analyses underestimate the real cost of ICT which also reduces resources available for other subject areas.

Cordes & Miller (Eds.), 2000


Fool’s Gold

Computers have little benefit for children under the age of 6. All users can suffer reduced health through repetitive strains if they overuse computers.

Cuban, 1986 & 2001

Teachers and machines

Oversold and underused

Teachers will only accept computers which prove to be reliable and useful. Children are learning more about computers at home than at school.

Peck, Cuban & Kirkpatrick, 2002

Techno-promoter dreams, student realities

ICT has had so little impact because of subject compartmentalism in school organisation and curriculum structures, the lack of project-centred teaching, and technological defects.

Russell, 2002

The no significant difference phenomenon

The numbers of studies showing technology makes no significant difference to educational attainment peaked in 1999.

Shield, 2000



A critical appraisal

ICT has little value in practical subjects which require hands-on training; or for higher-order thinking because current computer simulations do not provide sufficiently rich learning environments.


Andrews et al. (2001) repudiated the findings of the meta-studies reviewed previously and found just three percent of the papers examined identified increased motivation and/or confidence in pupils as a result of ICT use with regard to literacy development. They also made the point that “in most of the studies, the conception of literacy is narrow, based on pre-digital notions of reading and writing” (p. 46). Peck, Cuban and Kirkpatrick (2002) found that ICT had little impact because of subject compartmentalism in school organisation and curriculum structures, the lack of project-centred teaching, and technological defects. These comments illustrate the value of critical thinking about the topic, for they begin to show reasons why ICT might not have yet achieved any significant transformation of learning. Other criticisms of ICT have been identified as a product of their time, in the period 1998-2000. Thus Russell (2002) reported a peak in studies in 1999 finding no significant difference between student cohorts taught traditionally and those taught using various forms of technological system. This theme was taken up by Lloyd (2002) in her critique of Cordes & Miller (2000).  Lloyd’s counter-criticism to their Fool’s Gold report argued that it was a product of its time and culture, under the shadow of the “predicted Y2K collapse, in the prelude to the 2000 U.S. Presidential elections, the polar stances of the contemporary media on information and communications technologies and more generally, the doom saying prevalent in any time of transition” (Lloyd, 2002, p. 1).


Additional criticisms of ICT identify the health and safety issues. Against a background of rising obesity amongst children, Cordes & Miller (2000) argued for limitations on the amount of time students remained sedentary, especially those under six years of age. The argument about the link between ill-health and over-use of ICT was also made by Armstrong & Casement (2001, p.143-159). Shield (2000) makes the point that ICT is of limited use when teaching practical skills. Together these criticisms suggest that sensible rules need to be used by classroom teachers when integrating it into their lessons: that as responsible professionals they limit its use to applicable areas of the curriculum within established health and safety guidelines.


2.3.2      The economic rationale

It appears that the research evidence for ICT improving traditional learning outcomes has been supplanted by a need to provide ICT skills and knowledge for assumed economic productivity (Amable, 2002, p.2). The emergence of the ‘knowledge-based economy’ as a phrase to encompass the importance of ICT in global markets has resulted in national and regional action plans. These plans address issues such as changes to intellectual property law, integration of government activities, transformation of education, digitisation of trade, and health care telematics. Examples of such plans include strategy policies such as eEurope 2005 (Commission of the European Communities, 2002) and administrative implementations such as the United Kingdom’s eMinister with an associated ‘Office of the e-Envoy’ (OECD, 2002a). The equivalent policy document in Australia is A Strategic Framework for the Information Economy (National Office for the Information Economy, 2002) which is supervised by a peak ministerial body called the Online Council.  The associated policy for ICT in schools (Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 2000) is entitled Learning for the knowledge society: An education and training action plan for the information economy.


One consequence of these national and regional action plans has been the regular reporting of ICT developments on a comparative basis. For instance, Australia was identified as being second in the world for the percentage of households with a computer, and seventh for home internet access (Di Gregorio & de Montis, 2002). Using the OECD (2002b) information, Australia ranked third in the countries surveyed in terms of the percentage of 15 year olds that used a computer at school at least a few times a week. Therefore it is clear from these measures that Australia is a leading user of ICT.


If Australia is amongst ‘the leaders’ for the extent and use of ICT in education and by young people, why then is there such a huge trade deficit in ICT-related goods and services (Australian Computer Society, 2002)? This question epitomises the pressure from the commercial and government sectors to prioritise work-related ICT skills in schools. One view is that if the problems associated with declining programmer productivity and a fall from global leadership in telecommunications technology are to be solved, then more ICT competent school leavers are important. This view was held so strongly that a project was run by the National Education Performance Monitoring Taskforce in this area. The project report recommended piloting national tests of student ICT skills in Years 5/6 and 9/10 (Cuttance & Stokes, 2000). The objectives of this testing are obscure, since the report refers in one section to the “acquisition of ICT knowledge and skills across the curriculum by all students from the first to the last year of schooling” (Cuttance & Stokes, 2000, section 4), whereas they also identify full integration as occurring “when learning takes place through ICT” [my emphasis]. This distinction is an important one, where the deciding factor is the topic intended to be learned by students. For instance, when students use historical simulation software, are they expected to acquire an understanding of life in the Middle Ages or improve their computer operational skills? The pedagogical rationale argues for the former, whilst the economic rationale would argue for the latter.


The Real Time report (Meredyth, Russell, Blackwood, Thomas & Wise, 1999b) made it quite clear that students were using computers more and obtaining their ICT skills at home, not at school. This report puts into question any presumed link between ICT skill monitoring and school ICT training, showing it is unlikely the two will be related. We are left therefore with the alternative suggestion that the benefits of ICT must come when students are learning through ICT, rather than about ICT.  The linkage between national competitiveness or economic gains and the use of ICT in schools is therefore one which needs to be examined carefully if it is to be substantiated. Expectations of ICT development (p. 23) also make it questionable whether such skills measured in Year 6 are of any value to a (rare) school leaver at Year 10, and decreasingly so to a Year 12 leaver. The argument here is that the technology will have developed so much in the intervening four to six years as to make such operational skills redundant.  It appears that ‘knowledge economy’ thinking has oriented ICT in school education towards the economic rationale by skewing learning outcomes towards ICT skills for pupils.



2.3.3      Innovation Diffusion

This study focuses on the introduction of ICT into school education. It is therefore related to the general area of innovation diffusion which has an extensive literature (Surry & Farquhar, 1997; Clarke, 2001; Pellicone, 2001, p. 33-53). From rural sociology origins in 1943, the research literature now ranges from the introduction of new linguistic patterns and cultural behaviours, to areas more clearly aligned to the adoption of new technologies in a variety of social situations. There appear to be three important foci for relevant innovation diffusion research: field dependence of the critical factors for diffusion; types of factors and their relative importance; and the particular context of ICT in education.


The literature on critical factors for innovation adoption shows that these are dependent upon the field of application. Parker and Sarvary (1994, Table 8) found ‘relative advantage’ was the main driver in domestic information technology innovation diffusion, suggesting it will be the nature of the ICT itself which will determine the degree of adoption. Surry (1997) raised the issue of whether a technology involved in an innovation is more important than the developer or its exponents. He concluded that the adopter has final control and that theories of developer based IT diffusion were deficient in that they overstated the role of technological superiority in the diffusion process. This implies that teachers will have the most significant role in determining the extent of ICT adoption in classrooms. These polarised findings illustrate the debate about some of the fundamental determinants of technological innovation. Since the opposing views come from different fields, there is reason to investigate each new instance of technological innovation separately.


In the specific field of ICT in education, Owen and Liles (1998) classified the factors which facilitated or slowed the adoption of the Internet by teachers such as accessibility of the equipment, training etc. The relative costs of equipment were important, as well as teacher attitudes, home Internet connections, transportation distances and difficulty (Tella & Kynäslahti, 1997). Somekh (1998, p. 11) identified suitable transition time, perceived relative advantage, professional development and accessible infrastructure as the critical success factors for ICT diffusion in higher education. The results were congruent with those of Fullan (1991) in school education and can therefore be applied to both fields. The literature thus reveals a variety of important factors, not all of which can be controlled in the adoption process of a technological innovation.


One factor which is perceived as being under systemic control is professional development (Krasnicki, 2003). It appears that an understanding of the content of professional development and its delivery is important to maximising efficacy of its role in the innovation adoption process. Somekh argues this factor is vital to managing the process of change, but has been “startlingly neglected” (1998, p. 20). Fullan agrees with the importance of the factor, but adds “good professional development by itself is not very effective” (1999, p.10). Therefore this controllable factor cannot by itself determine whether a technological innovation will be adopted. The other factors eg. perceived relative advantage, accessible quality infrastructure, suitable transition time etc., are also needed for progression through the stages of adoption leading to institutionalisation and permanent integration of an innovation.


The process of innovation institutionalisation can depend upon the different adoption patterns of various types of staff using technology in teaching (Jacobsen, 1998). General recommendations from his study such as such as training, investing in IT infrastructure, and instigating a rewards system could be universal for all groups of computer users, such as the early adopters, the late developers etc. The merits of standardisation may not be equally applicable to all these groups.


The literature has therefore identified many of the critical success factors for innovation institutionalisation (Nutley, Davies & Walter, 2002, p. 18). Much of the literature (such as the categories of implementers of Jacobsen) derives from the work of Rogers over the period 1962 to 1995, giving evidence of a well developed field of investigation upon which this study could build.



2.3.4      Issues from the literature about implementation and practice

Some large scale/long term studies of ICT effectiveness using nationally benchmarked outcomes have found it is associated with cost-effective learning improvements. However, ICT effectiveness as measured by meta-analyses is similar to that of other innovations, thus situating the pedagogical rationale for ICT between one-on-one tutoring and no intervention. Criticism has helped to identify the conditions within which the untapped potential of ICT might be reasonable found when usage levels are raised above the current low classroom levels. The basis for the economic rationale has been examined, and the home rather than the school has been identified as the more significant source of ICT skills for students. Previous research has provided little evidence to justify the economic or pedagogical rationales, and some indications of a transformation in schooling. The innovation diffusion literature, particularly that concerning the study topic area, illustrates a range of factors including the perceived relative advantage of ICT and associated professional development.


2.4         Teacher professional development (RQ3)

Teachers have been identified as critical to the adoption of ICT into school education in the previous sections of the review. To clarify their position and reaction to this innovation the review examines the general literature on innovation diffusion to identify the characteristics and skills teachers need if the potential of ICT is to be developed in education to a similar degree to that found in other areas of society. The review examines aspects of teacher culture which make them hesitant to adopt this innovation, and professional development approaches that have been used.


One view is that “technologies have trajectories” (Bijker & Law, 1992). However, there is a considerable literature of innovation diffusion processes that goes beyond this deterministic view. Rogers (1995) defined the process of innovation diffusion in terms of four elements.  These four elements occur when an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time amongst the members of a social system.  He also described five essential characteristics of innovations:

·      Relative advantage (the innovation appears to be better than what was previously available)

·      Compatibility (it matches what people already know)

·      Complexity (people can understand it)

·      Trialability (something people can try in a limited way)

·      Observability (potential adopters are able to see the results).

This understanding of innovation diffusion has been widely accepted as a basis for further studies. A key element in Rogers’ model of innovation diffusion is the change agent, who is frequently more technically competent than his/her peers, but can still communicate the essence of the innovation to them effectively (Rogers, 1995, p. 19). Rogers describes the change agent as “a marginal figure with one foot in each of two worlds,” a situation which often leads to role conflicts and problems in communication. This conflict is generally due to their technical competence and their need to relate to potential adopters who have different socio-economic status, beliefs and attitudes. Clayton (1993) extended Rogers’ description of the innovation adoption process by identifying a sixth element of ‘ownership’, exemplified by the apparent emergence of the innovation from a source internal to the organisation. Kazlauskas (1995) concurred, and described the importance of accommodation cycles for innovation diffusion. Parker and Sarvary (1994) tested the diffusion model using a multi-national survey methodology in relation to a set of home-office consumer electronics innovations. They extended Rogers’ theory by identifying alternative pathways for the spread of an innovation within a social system. They concluded that the perceptual product factor of ‘relative advantage’ was the most significant direct factor influencing diffusion, confirming Rogers’ model in regard to this factor. The demographic factors of ‘parent ownership’ and the psychographic factor of ‘venturesomeness’ were the next most significant, along with other perceptual product factors such as ‘complexity’.


Alternatives to the Rogers’ model have been proposed by Valente (1995), Hord, Hall, Loucks-Horsely & Huling (1987) and Rebentisch (1995). Valente (1995) posits a social network background for the majority of innovations, which attributes most of the diffusion process to communication links between individuals. Valente also examines the role of thresholds and develops the idea of a ‘critical mass’ of the population who must become adopters before the innovation will become more generally adopted. Hord et al., (1987) proposed the Concerns-Based Adoption Model as a diagnostic tool for effective staff development. Rebentisch (1995) proposed a technology-transfer model and found that more complex technologies required relatively more effort to complete their transfers than did simpler technologies. Despite these alternatives, it is clear from the literature that innovation diffusion depends upon the communication of observable relative advantage and ownership.


Setting these findings from the innovation diffusion literature into the domain for ICT integration in school education, it can be seen that teachers need to have exposure to authentic exemplars before they can assess the ‘relative advantage’ of this new way of working. It is also clear that ‘ownership’ either of the equipment itself, or control over its disposition, is also another important factor which will influence adoption. Evidence of these findings was confirmed empirically by a group of teachers working in a primary school selected to be a ‘lighthouse’ for ICT (Ramus, Elliott, Green, Dickinson, Parsons, DiIorio, Huygen, deWacht & Frank, 1998). Over an eighteen month period the staff became “convinced that the provision of notebooks for all teachers was a most effective use of technology” (p. 6). The school quadrupled its professional development spending; and the teachers used ICT for administration, teaching and material preparation within a collegial context. They indicated areas where this approach was successful with students as including:  acceleration through curriculum levels, the intrinsic and instant rewards of success with the software, development of independent skills, co-operative group work and peer tutoring, as well as broadening/enhancement of personal achievements across levels (Ramus et al., 1998, p. 43). The ‘ownership’ factor for innovation diffusion has been used in far larger teacher professional development programs, with laptops for teachers projects operating on a regional basis across the UK (Becta, 2003), Western Australia (Department of Education, Western Australia, 2002) and in Victoria (State of Victoria (Department of Education & Training), 2002).


The application of the innovation diffusion literature to the special case of teacher professional development can also be extended to the area of cultural conflict. Teachers operate in a social and socialising context, where their evaluation of an innovation is in terms of its benefit or deleterious effects. The viewpoint of the evaluator is critical to this judgement, as Rogers acknowledges, describing the definition of “good”, as a value judgement, which depends very much upon cultural perspective (Rogers, 1995, p. 343). It could be argued that beneficial consequences can, in fact, be maximised and undesirable consequences, at least in the short-term, minimised or negated. But Rogers denies this in his generalisation 11-1, saying that “the effects of an innovation cannot be managed to separate the desirable from undesirable consequences”. This distinction is particularly important when considering the social consequences of an innovation such as increased social stratification, and consequent internal inequalities.  Agreement of benefit between both internal and external evaluator viewpoints would seem to be a necessary condition for such a judgement.


Therefore the viewpoints of both teaching staff and other elements of the school community need to be considered when assessing the value of information technology in schools. Teachers have internal cultural values, with equity being a strong concern for most teaching staff. The school can be seen as a social instrument to support equal justice for all in society at large. What might therefore be of particular concern to teachers is the suggestion that a relatively high cost innovation can lead to increased inequality. In such a case the perceptual factor of relative advantage of the innovation will be in opposition to the local culture of equity. Thus the perceived consequences of the innovation are likely to have a significant impact upon its rate of diffusion. Teachers are particularly worried by such social impacts of computers, as was shown in Fluck (1995, p. 69) where they expressed fears about social isolation. This attitude appeared to change in the Tasmanian context by 1998 where teachers:

… noted that "computers are the focus of some friendship groups", and that these groups "cross social boundaries" indicating that membership was socio-economically heterogeneous. When prompted as to their reaction about computers promoting social isolation, these teachers saw computer-using students forming groups (called 'geek gangs' in one school) similar to those formed by students interested in sport, surfing, dressing in fashion, riding horses or doing academic studies.                                                                       (Fluck, 2001, p. 50)

We now focus inwards on the role of the teacher as a change agent. Moving from general theories of innovation, we need to see where teachers (particularly those in Australia) are in terms of accommodating to ICT, and what professional development is being provided for them. The studies reviewed below show the diverse nature of such professional development, and the relationship between its extent and classroom consequences. The review also brings out the concomitant factors necessary for professional development to be fully effective.


An informal professional development process was used in the Common Knowledge: Pittsburgh project, as described by Schofield and Davidson (2000). The project sought to “stimulate teachers in a large urban school system to use the Internet in their work”. It provided the necessary equipment in teachers’ classrooms, and appropriate technical support. While not all teachers who applied and were accepted into this five-year scheme were in agreement, the following findings were reported by the authors as common to a substantial proportion of the group:

·      work-related communication with others increased

·      interactions within and beyond the school increased

·      opportunities for professional development increased

·      they learned more about computing and the Internet

·      they invested in home computing equipment

·      some became school-based network administrators

·      they had increased professional pride and enthusiasm.


In the view of their principals, the Internet access project "gets them [teachers] out of the same old rut", and refocused teacher conversation from constant complaints about "kids driving me crazy" to lively discussions of what they were accomplishing (Schofield & Davidson, 2000).


This example of indirect professional development through equipment provision was paralleled by the ‘laptops for teachers’ scheme in Victoria (Australia) where 67 percent of teachers reported gaining intermediate or advanced IT skills (Department of Education, Employment and Training (Victoria), 2000, p. 32).  The Tasmanian Graduate Certificate of Education (Computing for Teaching and Learning) was another example of indirect professional development, structured through a vocationally-based outcomes specification (Department of Education, Tasmania, 2000). Another syllabus that has been considered for a variety of professions is the International Computer Driving Licence (Australian Computer Society, 2002b). Courses following this syllabus have been supplied to teachers in the Australian Capital Territory and by the Catholic Education Office in Parramatta (see and The diversity of these professional development approaches indicates the lack of common agreement about the best way to prepare teachers for the general use of ICT, and/or the diversity of expectations.


Other aspects of teacher ICT professional development were considered by Elizabeth Byrom (1997) who reviewed the literature on the integration of technology into education programs. Her review concurred with the ACOT stages of teacher progression and inferred this process generally took three to five years. A RAND study in her review indicated that 30 percent of a school technology budget should be allocated to staff development, and this should take place on-site and ‘just in time’. Unless the equipment was available to staff immediately after a workshop, so they could practice and use it for operational reasons within a short time of being trained, the training effort would be wasted. In a related paper Byrom (1998) identified the factors influencing the effective use of technology in teaching and learning identified through a project working intensively with 12 schools in the south east of the USA. There was a significant positive correlation between the amount and level of equipment and technical assistance provided and subsequent movement along the continuum of technology integration.


The relationship between professional development and technology access/capacity appears to be a significant factor in the development process for ICT in education, as was found by Schofield and Davidson (2000) when teachers involved in their project became more technology-centred. This also suggests that schools that get improved learning results from ICT will have addressed this issue, either directly or indirectly. This is not a surprising result, and basically argues that development will be faster where better resources are available.


An extensive review of teacher professional development with respect to ICT was carried out by Downes, Fluck, Gibbons, Leonard, Matthews, Oliver, Vickers, & Williams (2002).  In this review the authors identified four distinct approaches to ICT in education by asking:

‘What educational outcomes do schools and systems hope to achieve by increasing the extent to which ICTs are integrated into classroom practice?’ From the information gathered in response to this question it is evident that, in Australia as well as overseas, educators are promoting ICT use in classrooms for several distinct reasons. These include:

• Type A: encouraging the acquisition of ICT skills as an end themselves;

• Type B: using ICTs to enhance students’ abilities within the existing curriculum;

• Type C: introducing ICTs as an integral component of broader curricular reforms that are changing not only how learning occurs but what is learned;

• Type D: introducing ICTs as an integral component of the reforms that alter the organisation and structure of schooling itself.                      (Downes et al., 2002, p. 23)

It is evident that the nature and type of professional development needs to be aligned with which of these approaches the school is taking to ICT. The review found that school reforms have been increasingly linked to an embedded use of ICT which enables students to undertake authentic multi-disciplinary tasks. Further, these reforms are spreading beyond the school gate as ICT links students to and from external agencies. Therefore it becomes more important to look at ways of conducting teacher professional development at both pre-service and in-service levels that encompass this type of learning experience.


2.4.1      Issues from the literature about professional development

It is clear from the literature that the ICT professional development of teachers is crucial to their role as change agents or adopters of this innovation. Teachers may not feel that they have the background or duty to prepare students for careers or working life that strongly depends upon ICT. Yet there are economic forces at work which suggest this is precisely what they should be doing. Moreover, children are coming to school with increasingly diverse yet increasingly common experiences of ICT at home. How then should teachers react? The social rationale for ICT argues they should ensure all children have the opportunity to develop familiarity with computers. However, teachers have expressed concerns about the social isolation they have observed amongst students who are intensive computer users (Fluck, 1995, pp.        47-48).  The third rationale, pedagogy, is a disputed territory, with no clear 2 sigma advantage for ICT (Kraver, 1997), and only an improvement of the 0.3-0.4 effect size is evident in the literature, which is comparable with other innovations. Within these boundaries there are some indicators of the conditions required for ICT to demonstrate a pedagogical improvement. According to  Byrom (1997) and Smerdon et al. (2000) ICT budgets should allocate a minimum of 30 percent for on-site and ‘just in time’ training and to provide at least 9 hours training per teacher per year. The training should be aligned to school expectations, depending upon the level of response expected in the Downes et al. (2002) list of reason types. Also, ownership is a vital ingredient to change management processes, and this has been taken into account in many professional development programs through laptop schemes for teachers (Clayton, 1993; Ramus et al., 1998).


2.5         Frameworks for the developmental stages of ICT in schools (RQ4)

The literature review proceeds with an examination of recent and significant studies of frameworks for ICT development in schools. There were no documents in ERIC (Educational Resources Information Centre) for the query (stages of development AND ICT AND education) AND (1994< Publication_Date <2003) and therefore the search was widened to include general internet sites, other search engines and printed references. Five works were selected from these sources, and are summarised in  Table 5:

Table 5: Selected studies of ICT development stages in schools


Stages of progression



Heppell, 1993

1. Computer as topic

2. Computer supports learning with task specific programs

3. Computers support learning with generic, content free programs

4. Computers support specific needs through component software

5. Pedagogy radically changes to reflect computers’ potential

Has a radical phase change as final step

Includes stages that might be considered redundant

Dwyer, Ringstaff & Sandholtz, 1991; Dwyer, 1994

Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT)

1. Entry

2. Adoption

3. Adaptation

4. Appropriation

5. Invention

Transfers well to new situations and has been extensively validated

Only describes the general stages of development for a single teacher in a classroom

Kraver, 1997

Arizona Learning Technology Partnership (ALTP)

Wave 1: early adoption

Wave 2: ICT integrated into curriculum

Wave 3: research-based learning technologies are released and transform education.

Aligns well with ICT-based innovations in other fields.

Assumes a new technology will become available

Caldwell & Spinks, 1998

Schools for the Knowledge Society Track 3 vision gestalt:

Aligns with emerging national policies to plan for knowledge-based economies

Little evidence for the rhetoric

Valdez, McNabb, Foertsch, Anderson, Hawkes & Raack, 2000

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL)

Phase I = print automation

Phase II = expansion of learning opportunities

Phase III = data driven virtual learning.

Emphasises emergence of learner-centred instruction based upon automated monitoring of student progress

Assumes education is school-based and teacher-led


Each of these five models attempts to describe the developmental stages of ICT in education in a different way. The authors have different perspectives which have framed their views. Their audiences, the strengths and the weaknesses of each model, and what they imply for future models are examined below.


Each model is a conceptual one (Webb, 1993) which exists only in the minds of humans rather than having some external manifestation. They are also ‘expedient’ models (Clement, 1989) which offer explication rather than explanation. Such models can be evaluated by comparing them with the phenomenon under investigation, and are useful for stimulating discussion, making relationships between objects clearer and ultimately becoming the basis for decisions about future actions (Penner, 2001). The focus of each model ranges from the teacher in a school to the system level of school governance.


Heppell wrote at a time when the Internet was beginning to be seen as having potential in the business world, and ‘killer-apps’ were entering the software marketplace for office automation on a regular basis. His description of the developing role of computers suggested that climbing sales of software which have transformed the world of work will be mirrored in education. He argued that although there had “been neither a strong mechanistic nor a strong causal link between technological and pedagogical change”, it was “not an unreasonable contention that this link will need to be tighter rather than looser in the next five to ten years” (Heppell, 1993, p.101). He established Ultralab, the learning technology research laboratory at Anglia Polytechnic University's Chelmsford campus, to trial the application of new technologies in educational settings (Revell, 2002). The Heppell model concentrates on the earlier stages of development, specifying the alternating use of topic specific and generic software. This alternation is not explained within the model, and it is therefore reasonable to be sceptical about its validity. The final stage of the Heppell model suggests pedagogy will change to accommodate the potential of ICT. This is a bold proposition, and requires further investigation to determine its applicability.


The Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) model was presented in support of a project sponsored by a computer manufacturer (Dwyer, Ringstaff & Sandholtz, 1991; Dwyer, 1994). This sponsorship may have affected the conclusions, a caution reinforced by the fact that one of the authors (Dr. David Dwyer) was the Apple director of Education Technology at the time of writing (Apple Computer, 2002, 2002a). The ACOT project was based around the question: “If technology was pervasive throughout education, then what?”  Starting in 1985, the Apple Computer company agreed to place a large amount of computer equipment and software in seven classrooms that represented a cross-section of America’s elementary and secondary schools. This included providing a computer for the classroom and home of every teacher and student in each class. The project grew, and with school agreement the classrooms were researched for over a decade. General conclusions about teacher stages of development were drawn from the research, from an ‘Entry’ stage where teachers had doubts, through an integration stage (‘Adaptation’) to a student-centred ‘Invention’ stage.


The ACOT model described ICT development from the point of view of teachers, who might reasonably be expected to be the majority of the audience. Reaching this audience was important to the commercially-sponsored study, for teachers were seen as critical to the acceptance of the technology and hence to sales. In the case of the ACOT model, there is evidence of its appropriation for the formation of teacher ICT accreditation schemes (Office of Technology & Information Services, 2001). The specific levels of the ACOT model make it difficult to apply to school or system level planning, although it could have a use as a component of such plans. Because it relates to teachers, they can use tools based upon the model to diagnose their personal needs for ICT-related professional development, to categorise their current teaching style and to assist in decision-making when choosing new classroom software.


Kraver (1997) developed the ALTP model as part of a case put to bureaucrats and commercial sponsors. His report is therefore framed in language suitable for such an audience.  He suggested that radical change of the order of one or two sigmas (standard deviations) in student outcomes should result from the application of ICT in education. He argued that this was not an impossible dream since in other technology applications “the airline industry doubled speed and range by replacing the piston engine with the jet engine. The food industry has decreased farm labour from 65 percent of the population to two percent using biological and mechanical technology”. One-to-one tutoring had been shown to improve educational outcomes by two sigmas (Bloom, 1984) showing this kind of improvement was not impossible and the capacity of ICT systems to achieve at similar levels was shown through a meta-study review (Kulik & Kulik, 1991). The USA defence department had adopted a similar vision of using digital resources to support individualized, collaborative, authentic and interactive learning in their schools for defence force children anywhere and anytime worldwide, and expected at least a one sigma improvement or a 30 percent teaching time reduction with existing equipment (Fletcher, 2003).


Kraver’s preparatory review of ICT used the STaR categorisation to show that only four percent of schools had ‘target tech’ multimedia computers at a density of one for every 5 students (CEO Forum, 1997). The review refers to a collection of 500 meta-studies indicating ICT improved learning outcomes but did not identify these, casting doubt upon this aspect of the study. The ALTP model showed progression through three ‘waves’, corresponding to increased levels of teacher training, software complexity and ICT funding rising from US$110 to US$300 per student per year. In the development of the ALTP model, Kraver makes a good argument for the expected quantum of educational improvement, but fails to enter into the debate about the appropriate metric for validating this. The ALTP model also ties the stages of progression very closely to funding (as was appropriate for the audience) and equipment levels. This is a restricting view, and does not help planners to cope with situations where equipment has been provided but recipients fail to use it. Finally, the ALTP model assumes the emergence of a new kind of research-based learning technology without which the model lacks justification.


Caldwell and Spinks wrote for an audience established by the publication of their first book on self-managing schools at the same time as the Education Reform Act of 1988 in the UK (Caldwell, 1998). Their devolutionary view corresponds strongly with the expectation that multiple solutions can be found locally to similar problems. This view of self-managing schools has been adopted widely in Australia and the United Kingdom. Their description of self-managing schools was extended into a future vision in Beyond the self managing school (Caldwell & Spinks, 1998) which examined future trends and argued that there were three possible tracks along which schools could move. ICT was a vital ingredient to each track, facilitating administrative change on track 1, enhancing communication between teachers as professionals on track 2, and transforming schools as learning places in the knowledge society on track 3. Developments on track 3 were illustrated by reference to lecture theatre design at the Goulburn Ovens Institute where students had alternate seating positions for computing and viewing (Caldwell & Spinks, 1998, p. 177). Among their summary of strategic intentions, they suggested:

Virtual schooling will be a reality at every stage of schooling, but there will still be a place called school, with approaches to virtual schooling including neighbourhood educational houses, especially for the very young.                                 (Caldwell & Spinks, 1998)

The model developed by Caldwell and Spinks has some basis in evidence derived from school architecture, and aligns with policy directions adopted by governments in the ‘knowledge society’ or ‘knowledge economy’ fields. However, they do not present compelling evidence from either source that confirms schools or systems are moving along track 3. The evidence within the development of the model is contradictory, at one point establishing the capacity of ICT to remove traditional barriers of time and distance from the educational process, yet also affirming the centrality of a designated ‘place’ of schooling.


The NCREL model was constructed for “legislators and state board members” and emerged from the development work with which the authors’ organisation was concerned (Valdez et al., 2000). They noted that computer-based technology had been instrumental for increased work productivity and economic success, but debate continued about its value and cost-effectiveness in education. For example, equity concerns had largely eliminated experimental control groups in a three year study of fifty-five New York school districts where increased technology levels accounted for an increase in college entrance examination pass rates of 3.2 percent for mathematics and a one percent increase for English (Mann and Schaffer, 1997). Despite this debate, the NCREL model abstracted elements from successful projects to define stages of progression defined by the curriculum software used by students. The software stages started with drill and practice materials in Phase I, then moved to group-based learner tools in Phase II before culminating with information systems which integrated student progress tracking with virtual learning in Phase III. Valdez et al. (2000) concluded discussion of the NCREL model with a possible Phase IV, ‘Successful Integration and Use of Educational Technology’.


A major difficulty with Phase III of the NCREL model is the implicit assumption that computer systems will generate progress data about learning outcomes for each student. This difficulty is made clearer by examining the work of Means and Olsen to which Valdez et al. link the NCREL model. Means and Olsen described four uses of ICT in school education: tutorial, exploratory, tool, and communication (1995, pp.  15-17). Only the tutorial use can be expected to generate data about student progress against learning outcomes. The generic office productivity software increasingly used by students in the other three modes does not report such details. Therefore little information about student achievements will be available for ‘data-driven virtual learning’ in Phase III of the NCREL model. Another difficulty with the NCREL model is the embedding of the industrial approach to learning, with the implicit reliance upon face-to-face direct teaching. The authors appeared to operate in a context where there was institutional support for a vision of the teacher as essential to the learning process, making the profession central to the final phase. This embedded position of the teacher was more in consideration of their audience than from a specific requirement of the technological maturation expected in Phase III.



2.5.1      Issues from the literature about stages of development for ICT in education

The existing frameworks for ICT development stages in schools reveal a number of deficiencies and suggestions for improvement. The first of the difficulties common to several of the models described is that of making ill-founded assumptions. The ALTP model assumes the emergence of a new kind of technology, both the ALTP and NCREL models assume education will mirror ICT impacts in the business world, and the latter also assumes student software will generate progress data. The Heppell model suggests pedagogy will change to accommodate ICT. The implication for any new model is that it should be thoroughly grounded in the literature and based upon evidence drawn from the field. The only assumptions that can be made are those drawn from existing practice or existing technology.


Another difficulty with the current models is that of internal inconsistencies. The Heppell model inconsistently alternates between a trend to more generic software and the use of topic specific materials. The Caldwell and Spinks model is ambiguous about the capacity of ICT to erode previous thinking about time and place. Any future model should therefore maintain consistency between stages of development by demonstrating the increasing effect of axial principles. To reduce the possibility of inconsistency, there should be a minimum number of stages.


Most of the existing models were crafted for a particular audience. This restricted the generalisability of the models, either for commercial reasons (ACOT) or because of institutional expectations (NCREL). The lesson for a new model is that it should be phrased in very general terms to maintain the widest possible application. This will make it suitable for classroom use or policy consideration, as a basis for professional development or linkage to other levels of national policy.


This generalisability must not cause the model to lose attention to specific requirements for progression between stages. The ALTP model highlighted particular equipment densities and funding levels for each stage, and this was helpful. However, to put such detail in the top level description of a model can limit its audience. Therefore a new model might have a second level of description with this particular detail, having attention to the requirements above about assumptions, consistency and audience.


A final guideline for the construction of a new model through this thesis concerns the difficulties of using conventional tests of educational achievement when students are using ICT in a meaningful way. For example, spelling tests of the traditional model would be inappropriate in the context of children using wordprocessors (such as Microsoft Word XP) in which spell checkers and voice recognition are embedded.  The new model should be developed with a view to the possibility that the aims of teaching may change. By looking at the past and present use of computers (as in the ALTP model), it should be possible to derive a conceptual understanding of how possible futures can link to current practice and previous experience.


The conclusion from this part of the review is that some existing models are limited by ill-founded assumptions, internal inconsistencies, or are restricted to particular sectors of the educational community, industrial conceptions of the schooling process or particular software. Helpful aspects of existing models have related specific levels of training or resourcing to particular stages, and they have been linked to observed practice in schools.


2.6         Other factors influencing the use of ICT in schools

One of the most significant factors about student use of ICT has been the rapid growth of student access to computers and the internet at home. Another has been the aging of the teaching workforce, associated with lower social status and remuneration, leading to a difficulty of recruitment and a search for alternative ways to provide adequate education.  This, combined with the desire from both administrators and students to make learning more cost efficient, has met with research evidence that computer-mediated learning can be at least as effective as face to face group instruction.  Predictions of home computer access

In Australia children’s home access to computers and the Internet has grown rapidly, and is much higher than that for the general population at 74 percent and 48 percent respectively (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1999b, 1999c, 2000, 2000d). Older children have greater access to computers at home (Meredyth, Russell, Blackwood, Thomas & Wise, 1999b, p.160), with much of their use being for games and educational activities (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2000c). Similar findings have been reported internationally, with 53 percent to 60 percent of secondary students estimated to use a computer at home in the USA, Germany and the Netherlands (Anderson & Lundmark, 1996, p. 29; Department of Commerce, 2000) while one author suggested ICT be utilised to overcome violence in schools (Fielder, 2000). Eighty percent of adult Australians undertaking study used the Internet (Pattinson & Di Gregorio, 1998). Therefore it is important to gauge the degree to which national, local and school policies attend to this growing proportion of students that are highly exposed to ICT in their homes.  Aging teachers

From 1976 to 1996 the median age of teachers in the USA increased from 33 to 44 years (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000, Table 70). Similar patterns were reported in Estonia, the UK and other countries surveyed. This pattern of an aging teacher population was significant because of the cultural gulf between them and their “Nintendo generation” pupils (Richards, 1997; Abbott-Chapman, 1999, pp. 15-19), and also because of the implications for teacher supply in coming years. Recruitment in the UK has been addressed by a series of ‘golden hellos’  with graduates who elect to go into teacher training receiving £150 per week during the training period, and further large sums when they start teaching in shortage areas such as Foreign Languages, Mathematics, Science or Technology (Charter, 2000). This did not prevent the number of teaching vacancies rising to 4980 by January 2001 (Owen, 2001). Similar difficulties have been reported in Australia (Box, 2000, p. 4) and Estonia where recently retired members of the profession were re-recruited. This re-entry cohort was therefore in a strong position to negotiate for good conditions and wages, and able to resist forces for change in teaching practice.  Making learning cost efficient.

Colleges in England for 16-18 year old students were effectively forced into using automation to maximise efficiency to cope with a 25 percent increase in student numbers at a time when the government had begun a program of devolving budgets and management (Kenny, 1994). Examples include the transformation of a ‘low quality traditional lecture based delivery’ engineering course to a “high quality tutorial environment, a flexible, self paced, self guided delivery with computer material available 24 hours a day” (Cartwright, 1994) which achieved the same learning outcomes within a fifty percent reduction in staffing and a twenty percent reduction in formal student contact time. Leftwich reported similar changes in a politics course (1994).


In the USA on-line accredited college courses were about half the cost to students compared to those that required attendance on-campus (Jurgensen, 1999, p. 16A). Student engagement and motivation were enhanced in a Nebraska study by the inclusion of personal investment content in the course interactions (Lehman, Kaufman, White, Horn & Bruning, 2000). In the school sector, a comparison was made by a UK Minister of Education, Professor Michael Barber:

It has been estimated that the cost of one teacher hour is £50 in the UK (c. US $80), rightly rising as we insist on much improved pay for demonstrably good teachers.  But the cost of one school ICT hour is about 75 pence (c. US $1) and falling at about 20 per cent per annum, while computers double their capacity every 18 months.  This provides an opportunity not to replace teachers wholesale, but to find new combinations of well-trained teachers, paraprofessionals and technology focused on the learning needs and aspirations of each individual.                                                                                        (Barber, 2000)


This comparison indicates some of the cost pressures which make ICT attractive to educational decision makers. The result has been a proliferation of experimental projects applying ICT in a broad range of educational contexts. Some projects have trialled the use of web-based courses and other multimedia applications with school refusers and at-risk students (EdNA, 2000).



2.7         Chapter summary

The review has identified the ubiquity of national policies for ICT in school education. These policies are often based upon economic, social and/or pedagogical rationales, which require further substantiation. The policies in many countries are becoming subsumed under national policies for ‘the knowledge economy’, and this appears to be shaping their form towards the economic rationale. Despite technological pressures, the extant international studies indicate the thrust of policy is on integrating ICT into current classroom practice, and students use computers much less in school than outside it. It remains to be seen if student learning autonomy is increased when ICT is used more often.


The literature distinguishes between ICT integration and ICT effectiveness, and several measures are available for each factor. Studies of effectiveness can be classified as experimental or descriptive. Experimental studies typified by meta-studies indicate ICT has so far proven only as effective as other innovations. Descriptive studies have found ICT has potential for improving learning outcomes, providing it is safely applied in appropriate areas, and teachers are adequately trained.


Teacher professional development was examined in the context of innovation diffusion theory. This identified ownership (exemplified through laptops for teachers programs) and the identification of relative advantage as key factors for adoption.  However, the literature indicated that professional development needs to be aligned with strategic purposes for ICT. Four such types of school approach have been recognised.


Existing frameworks for the developmental stages of ICT in schools were reviewed in the context of their authors’ intentions and specific audience targets. Through an analysis of each framework, it was established that future models would need to be applicable to a wide range of educational audiences, not presume the emergence of new educational technology and not make assumptions about the operational characteristics of software.


Additional factors having some bearing upon the use of ICT in school education were predictions of rapidly increasing home access to computers and the internet, the aging population of teachers and financial imperatives to make learning more cost efficient.


The next chapter will show how the study methodology was developed.