Objectives and purposes.
The innovative use of technologies in education is still the domain of a relatively small number of teachers, especially outside the most advanced countries. We start from the premise that practices that encourage independent, collaborative and autonomous learning (Kozma & Anderson 2002) better prepare students for life in the “knowledge society” and hence should be encouraged through appropriate policy measures. On the basis of nationally-representative Spanish survey data on teachers’ attitudes, experience with, and use of new technology, we attempt to identify particular resources that innovative technology users are drawing upon.
In particular, we try to answer the question whether the contributing factors for innovative use are mainly “manipulative” or “non-manipulative” (Drent & Meelissen 2008), i.e. amenable to be influenced by schools or requiring broader policy intervention.
In a first descriptive part of the analysis, meaningful groups of teachers are formed on the basis of their reported technology use in the classroom. In a second step, we aim to develop a parsimonious and relevant model for classifying teachers into these different groups on the basis of institutional and individual variables. Concretely, cluster analysis is employed to develop a taxonomy of teachers with regard to technology classroom use. We distinguish between three types of technology users based on the frequency and variety of classroom use. Discriminant analysis is then employed to predict membership in these user groups from a set of “structural” and “cultural” characteristics at both the individual and school levels. Different robustness checks are performed, in particular the regression of an index of innovative use on the same set of variables.
Data sources and evidence.
Data is based on a nationally-representative survey on teachers’ attitudes, experience with, and use of new technology in Spanish primary and secondary schools (Sigalés et al. 2008). The stratified multi-stage sampling procedure yielded a sample of 1697 teachers, 653 of which were retained in our final analysis.
The hypothesis suggested by our analysis sees access to internet and technology resources at school as well as digital literacy for advanced internet use as the most important predictors for innovative use of technology in education. Of slightly less importance are frequency of internet access and educational technology training as well as positive technology attitudes by teachers. On a more detailed level of analysis, the results suggest that the availability of networked computers in classrooms, as well as easy access to programs and other software are considered helpful factors by more heavy technology users. An important non-manipulative teacher characteristic of some importance is the ability to publish contents on the internet.
Scientific and scholarly significance.
We conclude that infrastructure bottlenecks, which are clearly a manipulative school-level factor, might still be the appropriate locus of intervention for schools that attempt to encourage innovative technology use. There might also be a significant payoff in refocusing some of the efforts in education for teachers beyond basic computer skills on more intermediate internet and Web 2.0 competences.