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JaniceButlerDigitalStorytelling

Page history last edited by Janice Wilson Butler 10 years, 6 months ago

IN-SERVICE TEACHERS AND TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION: DIGITAL STORYTELLING ACTIVITIES DIMINISH TEACHER MANAGEMENT CONCERNS IN THE CONCERN’S BASED ADOPTION MODEL (CBAM)

Janice W. Butler

Assistant Professor

University of Texas at Brownsville

Abstract:The purpose of the study was to compare the concerns of teachers toward computer integration before and after completing training in digital storytelling. A pre-experimental pretest-posttest one-group only research design was utilized in this study of twenty-two teachers from a school district in deep South Texas. The self-reported Stages of Concerns Questionnaireused in this study addresses seven stages of concerns for any innovation: awareness, informational, personal, management, consequence, collaboration, and refocusing. The results obtained from the study indicated that teachers’ concerns toward technology integration were statistically significantly different in the Management Stage and in the Refocusing Stage after receiving training in digital storytelling. A discussion of the survey results follows.

Introduction

In an increasingly global society, students must master and apply “new technologies in virtually every field of human endeavor to be competitive in the 21stcentury work force” (U.S. Department of Education, 2004, p. 6). The responsibility for adequately preparing young people for the challenges they will face in this new Information Age rests with the K-16 schools of today, (Okojei & Olinzock, 2006). However, despite massive investments in computer hardware, software and technology infrastructure, the educational system in the United States remains largely the same (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Although the number of computers per school continues to climb and the ratio of student to computer continues to fall, teachers are largely underutilizing technology in the classroom (Becker, 2000, 2001; Becker, Ravitz, & Wong, 1999; Cuban, 1989, 2001).

Understanding the importance of technology in teaching, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 on the United States, contained a provision, Title II, Part D, Section 2401: Enhancing Education through Technology, that mandated teachers as well as students be technologically literate. State educational agencies were required to develop plans ensuring that technology be fully integrated into the curricula and instruction of the schools by December 31, 2006 (No Child Left Behind, 2002). Almost a decade later, the technology goals of the No Child Left Behind Actare far from being met. While policy makers and administrators look primarily at issues revolving around computer accessibility in schools, they fail to realize that physical availability is not enough to bring about change (Cuban, 2001). Yet, the research available tends to focus on access rather than on teachers’ perspectives about technology usage (McGrail, 2006). However, because teachers’ usage of technology is affected by their attitudes toward technology, it is critical to investigate training that will directly impact attitudes. Ertmer (2005) suggests that the majority of teachers are not integrating technology because they have not changed their attitudes about the value of technology in teaching. Changing teacher’s beliefs and attitudes is not only difficult, but it can also take an extended period of time and is unlikely to be affected by persuasive arguments.

Research suggests that the use of technology in the classroom is affected by teachers’ negative attitudes toward technology and computers (Griswold, 1983; Okojei & Olinzock, 2006; Rosen & Weil, 1995; Woodrow, 1991, 1992). If technology will one day play a more significant role in education, it is critical that innovative methods of training teachers be developed to reduce teachers’ negative attitudes toward computers. According to Ertmer, training teachers to use relatively simple technology tools may be an effective method of initiating the adoption process (2005). In addition, Gilbert (2006) recommends an innovative training method using a low-threshold application to encourage teachers to become comfortable using technology. Low-threshold applications are defined by Gilbert (2006) as teaching/learning information technology applications that are reliable, accessible, easy to learn, non-threatening, and incrementally inexpensive. Using low-threshold applications quickly produces observable positive consequences and contributes to important long-term changes in teaching and/or learning. Digital storytelling programs, such as Photo Story, Photofiltre, and WavePad fulfill the characteristics of low-threshold applications: they are free, easily downloaded and installed, can be learned by a relative novice in a short time, and can be used in all subject areas with all populations. These characteristics that define applications as low-threshold, also address problems in time, support, and costs that are the commonly expressed barriers to technology usage for teachers in K-12 environments (Brzycki & Dudt, 2005). This study examined the impact of a three-day training program on the attitudes of educators who were asked to implement a low-threshold technological intervention: Digital Storytelling.

Background Information

When Everett Rogers (2003) adapted his diffusion of innovations theory to education, the pattern of low computer usage in schools became more comprehensible. According to Rogers, people’s attitudes toward a new technology are a critical element in its diffusion. The diffusion process occurs over time through five predictable stages: Knowledge, Persuasion, Decision, Implementation, and Confirmation. In this process, an individual “passes (1) from first knowledge of an innovation, (2) to forming an attitude toward the innovation, (3) to a decision to adopt or reject the innovation,(4) to implementation of the new idea, and (5) to confirmation of this decision” (Rogers, 2003, p. 161). This life cycle of innovations is predictable and can explain the adoption of technology by some teachers and the resistance of others (Albaugh, 1997). In the bell-shaped curve of the adoption cycle, “innovators” account for 2.5% of the technology adopters, “early adopters” account for 13.5%, the “early majority” account for 34%, the “late majority” account for 34%, and “laggards” account for 16% (Moore, 1999; Rogers, 2003).

Hall and Hord (2001) further explain the process of adopting an innovation using a concerns-based model – a developmental pattern to how an individual teacher’s feelings and perceptions evolve as the change process unfolds. A concern is defined as “the composite representation of the feelings, preoccupation, thought, and consideration given to a particular issue or task” (Hall & Hord, 2001, p. 61). Through their research, Hall and Hord (2001) have identified three clusters of concern: self, task, and impact. “Self” concerns indicate a concern about teaching, but the focus is on the teacher rather than on teaching or the needs of the students. A teacher with “self” concerns may worry about students liking them or how the innovation will impact them personally. “Task” concerns indicate a focus on the act of teaching itself and how the innovation can be implemented. Teachers in this stage typically worry about having time to implement the innovation. “Impact” concerns, the ultimate goal for effective teachers, focus on what is happening with students and what the teacher can do to improve student outcomes. Teachers in the impact stage worry about how the innovation is impacting academic learning and how the innovation can be improved. Using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, staff developers are able to understand and address concerns and guide teachers through the change process.

Hall and Hord (2001) further identified seven specific stages of concerns within the three clusters of concerns:

Self Concerns:

Awareness– The teacher has little concern or involvement with the innovation and may not even be aware there is an innovation.

Informational– The teacher has a general awareness of the innovation and is interested in learning more; the teacher is interested in such things as general characteristics, effects of, and requirements for use.

Personal – The teacher is uncertain about the demands of an innovation, personal adequacy in meeting the demands, and his or her role with the innovation.

Task Concerns:

Management– The teacher begins to focus on processes and tasks of using the innovation as well as the best use of the information and resources. Issues such as efficiency, organizing, managing, scheduling, and time requirements are the focus.

Impact Concerns:

Consequence – The teacher focus is on impact of the innovation on students within the immediate sphere of influence with a focus on relevance of innovation to improvement in outcomes and competencies.

Collaboration –The teacher focus is on coordination and cooperation with others in the use of the innovation.

Refocusing –The teacher focus is on the exploration of more universal benefits of the innovation and possible alternatives to the innovation that make it more powerful.

In most efforts to improve teaching efficiency and effectiveness, leaders of educational settings provide training programs for their teachers, often consisting of brief, introductory experiences. This training is generally planned based on the assumption that when teachers or other educational professionals understand the theory behind the intervention, it will quickly be subsumed into educational activities that will increase or, at least, facilitate, learning. A significant number of studies have shown, however, that few interventions are ever actualized. Two reasons for this are: (1) educator attitudes toward the interventions are seldom improved and, in fact, are often decreased; and (2) educators take their knowledge of the interventions back to their classrooms, try them, quickly find them unsuccessful, and thus return to previous practices. However, Hall and Hord (2003) speculate that meaningful instruction can decrease the early-stage concerns about an innovation and increase the later-stage concerns dealing with the impact of the innovation on student achievement. Thus, developing meaningful technology training can result in effective technology integration in the classroom. This study looked at teachers’ levels of concerns about the innovation of digital storytelling after they have participated in digital storytelling training.

The Study

The purpose of this study was to describe the effect of three days of digital storytelling training on teachers’ attitudes toward computers as measured by Stages of Concern Questionnaire. A pretest-posttest one group only pre-experimental research design was used to test the hypothesis in this study. A “true” experimental design could not be used because:(1) the participants were assigned by principals to participate in the training with randomization not being possible; and (2) the comparison to a control group is not within the scope of this study.

The participants in this study were teachers selected from the faculty at three elementary schools and two middle schools in deep South Texas. Some principals asked for volunteers to attend the training; other principals decided who would attend without regard to the teacher’s desire to attend the training. While it was suggested to the principal that participants be teachers who were hesitant about using technology, experienced anxiety about using the computer, or lacked technology skills, the school principals were ultimately responsible for the selection of teachers. Thus, teachers were selected to attend training based on the needs of the district, individual campuses, and principals. One of the school districts from which teachers were selected to participate in digital storytelling training is on probationary status due to low standardized test scores. District policy restricts extended leave (such as three days of training) for all teachers who teach grade levels or subject areas in which students are required to take standardized tests. Thus, some teachers were selected because they did not teach in a grade level or subject area impacted by testing. Other teachers had moderate to high levels of technology expertise and were selected because the principal wanted them to gain additional expertise in order to train other teachers at the campus.

One campus held the training on Saturdays. Since the training was not held during the regular school week, no restrictions limited who could attend. Thus, the principal opened the training to anyone wanting to attend and willing to give up three Saturdays. While these participants received credit for off-duty professional development, they had all earned sufficient hours for the year and were not required to attend any additional training. The teachers who attended the Saturday training did not receive a stipend or other form of compensation. Because of the variety of selection criteria used by the individual principals, the level of technology skills the teachers possessed ranged from very limited to very experienced. None, however, had previously received digital storytelling training or instruction in any of the three programs used in the training.

Training was conducted in three different computer labs, one located at a middle school, one located at an elementary school and one located at the local university. All participants who attended the training at the middle school taught at that campus. Some teachers were not informed that they would attend training until that day. Thus, some teachers expressed frustration about the training with so little warning. While those participants selected subsequent dates for the additional days of training, several cancellations and postponements by the principal caused the final day of training to be in conflict with significant, ongoing campus activities.

The training at the university was attended by teachers from three different schools – two elementary and one middle school. All teachers were notified at least one week prior to training that they would be attending and were given all three dates that training was to be conducted. The dates of training did not change from dates that were originally given to the teachers. All teachers at the training at the elementary campus were informed of the training at least two weeks in advance. All but one of these teachers taught at that campus. At the first day of training, the teachers were asked to select dates for the final two days of training. The final two days were held based on the selection of the teachers. Several teachers who completed the training skipped the Stages of Concern Questionnaireor the demographics section of the survey or used different identifiers for the pre-assessment and the post-assessment; thus, their data could not be included in the data analysis. Overall, 47% of those who attended the first day of training completed the full three days of training as well as both the pre- and post assessment. The highest attrition occurred for the Saturday training. Of the teachers attending the first day of training, 6 of 10 (60%) completed the training at the middle school, 9 of 14 (64%) completed the training at the university, and 8 of 22 (36%) completed the Saturday training at the elementary school. Grade levels ranged from early childhood to eighth grade, with 14 teachers (64%) from elementary schools and 8 teachers (36%) from middle schools. Subject areas taught included: all subjects areas elementary – 10 teachers (45%); social studies – 5 teachers (22.7%); Spanish – 2 teachers (9.1%); reading – 2 teachers (9.1%); technology – 2 teachers (9.1%); and science – 1 teacher (4.5%).

The theoretical approach of this study exemplifies Rogers’ (2003) theory that the adoption of innovations is an active process involving much reinvention. The Concerns-Based Adoption Model, used this theoretical basis in the development of the Stages of Concern Questionnaire. The Stages of Concern Questionnaire was utilized as the pre assessment and the post-assessment to measure teachers’ stages of concerns toward technology and computers.

The instrument used to measure teachers’ attitudes toward computers was the Stages of Concern Questionnaire. The Stages of Concern Questionnaireis based on the Concerns-Based Adoption Model that was developed in the 1970s at the Research and Development Center for Teacher Education at the University of Texas at Austin based on the work of Frances Fuller. The instrument was developed over a three-year period and was tested for reliability, internal consistency, validity with numerous samples and 11 innovations. Factor analysis was used to select 35 items which loaded highly on the seven concernsof the model. Test reliabilitywas satisfactory, based on internal consistency estimates of .64 to .83, and test-retest reliabilityof .65 to .86. Research studies have supported the test’s validity. Longitudinal studies have also demonstrated that teachers, over time, pass through the hypothesized stages(Hall & George, 1979).

The questionnaire comprises 35 statements, each expressing a specific concern about an innovation reflecting the seven stages of concernsas an innovation is implemented: (1) awareness; (2) information; (3) personal; (4) management; (5) consequence; (6) collaboration; and (7) refocusing. The Stagesof ConcernQuestionnairewas developed in order to provide a quick scoring measure of the seven stages of concern about an innovation, such as technology (George, Hall, & Stiegelbaurer, 2006). Respondents indicate the degree to which each concern is true for them at that specific time by clicking a circle on a 0 through 7 scale next to each statement. High numbers indicate high concern; low numbers indicate low concern; “0” indicates very low concern or completely irrelevant items.

Training was conducted in three different computer labs, one located at the middle school, one located at an elementary school and one located at the local university. The training at the middle school and the university was conducted during the regular school week. The training at the elementary school was conducted on Saturday. All training followed the 6-hour training structure of the district’s staff development. Training was conducted on non consecutive days to allow teachers to practice what they had learned before moving on to another program.

The pre-assessment was administered at all locations in the morning before training began on the first day. The training followed a hands-on format in which teachers were encouraged to interact and share ideas as well as share their new-found knowledge with others in the workshop. This non-threatening format allowed teachers to work at their own pace regardless of their individual technology expertise without feeling either rushed or hampered in learning the new programs. In addition, those who mastered a particular segment of training were encouraged to assist others in the class, which helped them reinforce their own learning and provided more individualized instruction when necessary.

The training included an introduction to digital storytelling that provided research about using digital storytelling in the classroom as well as a rationale for using Photo Story 3. Also included in the training was information on the availability and cost of software (free) and an overview of downloading and installing the software. After an initial overview of digital storytelling and Photo Story 3, the teachers were guided through the process of completing their first digital story using a topic of personal interest, preferably with digital photos they brought or with photos that were scanned and digitized in the lab. As needed, teachers were “tutored” on scanning photos, downloading images from the Internet, and accessing photos from personal databases – such as Yahoo Photos, Picasa by Google and Kodak Gallery.

At the conclusion of the first day of training, teachers were given an assignment to reinforce newly acquired skills that was due at the beginning of the subsequent days of training. Teachers were then able to share their stories at the beginning of the second and third day of training. The teachers encouraged each other as they viewed the digital stories and had the opportunity to observe new techniques and fresh ideas for enhancing their own projects. The second day of training included a working session on integrating digital storytelling into the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (the essential knowledge that all students are expected to master in all subjects in Texas schools); information about copyright issues and Creative Commons licenses for photos, graphics, and music; advanced audio editing techniques; advanced storytelling techniques and uploading of stories. Several critical websites that contain copyright free materials were referenced and visited. Before beginning training with the audio editor, teachers were provided with links to online tutorials and information on downloading and installing WavePad, a free and simple to use audio editing program.

Teachers then worked on editing music and narration by using a simple audio editing program. Teachers were able to add music that was personally meaningful to them as well as practice adding their own voice to the photo stories they were creating and refining. Again, teachers were encouraged to help each other and share information in order to allow teachers to work at their own pace and provide more individualized instruction. The final day of training was dedicated to photo editing using a free program called PhotoFiltre. Several critical websites that contain copyright free images were referenced and visited. Before beginning training with the photo editor, teachers were provided with links to online tutorials and information on downloading and installing PhotoFiltre. Teachers spent part of the day with photo editing and were able to share their stories at the conclusion of training. After the completion of the three-day training, the instructional technology director administeredtheStages of Concern Questionnaire, whichserved as the post-assessment.

Findings

Teachers’ levels of concerns toward the innovation of digital storytelling were determined by analyzing the totals of participant responses in each of the seven stages in the Stages of Concern Questionnaire. A t-test for paired samples was utilized to determine whether teachers’ levels of concerns in each stage after they participated in digital storytelling training were statistically significantly lower than teachers’ levels of concerns in each of the stages before they participated in digital storytelling training,. The results from the tests for each stage 0-6 are indicated in the tables on the following pages.

In Stage 0, the Awareness Stage in the Stages of Concernmodel, the teacher has little concern or involvement with the innovation and may not even be aware there is an innovation (Hall & Hord, 2001). The t-test for paired samples yielded a tof 0.79 that was not statistically significant (p= .219) and an effect size (d= -0.19) that was not educationally meaningful. In Stage 1, the Informational Stage in the Stages of Concernmodel, the teacher has a general awareness of the innovation and is interested in learning more; the teacher is interested in such things as general characteristics, effects, and requirements for use (Hall & Hord, 2001). Table 13 on page 95 presents results of the t-test for paired samples for As presented above, the t-test for paired samples yielded a tof 0.18 that was not statistically significant (p= .431) and an effect size (d= +0.03) that was not educationally meaningful. In Stage 2, the Personal Stage in the Stages of Concernmodel, the teacher is uncertain about the demands of an innovation, as well as concerned about personal adequacy in meeting the demands and his or her role with the innovation (Hall & Hord, 2001). As presented above, the t-test for paired samples yielded a tof 0.15 that was not statistically significant (p= .443) and an effect size (d= -0.03) that was not educationally meaningful. In Stage 3, the Management Stage in the Stages of Concernmodel, the teacher focus is on processes and tasks of using the innovation as well as the best use of the information and resources. Issues such as efficiency, organizing, managing, scheduling, and time requirements are the focus (Hall & Hord, 2001). As presented above, the t-test for paired samples yielded a tof 1.79 that was statistically significant (p= .020) and an effect size (d= -0.32) that was not educationally meaningful. In Stage 4, the Consequence Stage in the Stages of Concernmodel, the teacher focus is on the impact of the innovation on students within the immediate sphere of influence with a focus on relevance of innovation to improvement in outcomes and competencies (Hall & Hord, 2001). As presented above, the t-test for paired samples yielded a tof 0.79 that was not statistically significant (p= .220) and an effect size (d= +0.14) that was not educationally meaningful. In Stage 5, the Collaboration Stage in the Stages of Concernmodel, the teacher focus is on coordination and cooperation with others in the use of the innovation (Hall & Hord, 2001). As presented above, the t-test for paired samples yielded a tof 1.51 that was not statistically significant (p= .073) and an effect size (d= +0.29) that was not educationally meaningful. In Stage 6, the Refocusing Stage in the Stages of Concernmodel, the teacher focus is on the exploration of more universal benefits of the innovation and possible alternatives to the innovation that make it more powerful (Hall & Hord, 2001). As presented above, the t-test for paired samples yielded a tof 2.30 that was statistically significant (p= .016) and an effect size (d= +0.34) that was educationally meaningful. However, the change was in the opposite direction hypothesized in this study.

Figure 1 below graphically represents the pre-assessment means and the post-assessment means for the teachers (N=22) in each stage of the Stages of ConcernQuestionnaire.

Statistically significant differences

 

Figure 1. Means obtained from the t-test for paired samples for Stages 0-6 of the Stages of Concern Questionnaire(N= 22) with stages that showed statistically significant differences noted.

Conclusions

The attitudes of teachers toward technology were not statistically significantly impacted by training in digital storytelling for Stages 0, 1, 2, 4, and 5 as indicated on the pre- and post-test results of the Stages of Concern Questionnaire. However, the results in Stage 3 indicate there was a statistically significant decreased level of management concerns (p= .020) in the mean obtained for teachers before they completed digital storytelling training (21.27) and the mean obtained for teachers after they completed digital storytelling training. According to research conducted by Hall and Hord (2001), the change process requires 3-5 years before an innovation is in place. However, the results of this study suggest that using a low-threshold application such as Photo Story 3 can make a difference in some of the levels of concerns teachers experience when asked to implement an innovation. One of the primary concerns teachers have about an innovation is the ability to manage the innovation as they try to incorporate it into their daily activities. George, Hall and Hord (2006) call the Stages of Concernprofile of a teacher who is typically worried about implementing an innovation the “Big W” Concerns profile. This profile typically shows a big increase in management concerns. However, the concerns of teachers who went through the digital storytelling training reflected the opposite profile, one in which management concerns significantly decline. Figure 3 on the following page provides a graphic comparison of the “Big W” concerns profile and the profile of teachers who completed digital storytelling training.

Concerns about how they will manage an innovation are typical when teachers are introduced to something new. “How will we have time to implement this innovation?” becomes a recurring concern. Yet, for this innovation, teachers’ concern about the management of digital storytelling was statistically significantly reduced, in many cases substantially. This would suggest that digital storytelling programs indeed match the criteria for low-threshold applications defined by Gilbert (2006) as teaching/learning information technology applications that are reliable, accessible, easy to learn, non-threatening, and incrementally inexpensive. These applications have observable positive consequences and contribute to important long-term changes in teaching and/or learning. They are also considered low-threshold in that they have low incremental costs for purchase, training, support, and maintenance.

Continuing to offer this type of training may result in willingness to adopt the innovation and to use this technology in the classroom since it is perceived as having no detrimental effect on the management of the classroom. One teacher described her experience as a journey, saying “As I began this Storytelling journey – I did not know what to expect. I felt like the scarecrow from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ if I only had a brain. Now, the sky’s the limit. I have so many ideas on how my lessons can make an impact on my kids.”

Interesting to note, also, were the post-test survey results indicating that teachers’ levels of concern in Stage 6 were statistically significantly higher after taking digital storytelling training. This is the stage in which teachers begin to look at refocusing – the exploration of more universal benefits for an innovation. This is a critical stage for teachers to reach in order for the innovation to be adopted. As teachers went through the training and became more proficient, they rapidly sought ways to make their presentations better. For example, one teacher was attempting to add different sound tracks to each slide. After fading one clip, he noted that it still did not sound right, so he asked how to improve the quality of the soundtrack and persisted until he got it just right. He laughed, and said, “Now that we know how to do this better, we are getting very particular, aren’t we?” It was common for the teachers to “push the envelope” in order to get increased benefits from using the programs. The depth to which they were learning to use all the features of the programs suggests that they will continue to use it once training was complete.

 

Figure 2. Comparison of the “Big W” Concerns Profile with the profile of teachers after completing digital storytelling training.

Stage 6 is the level that most directly impacts student learning. Hall and Hord (2003) speculate that meaningful instruction on an innovation will lower the early stage concerns and increase the later-stage concerns dealing with impact on students. Moving to this stage as rapidly as teachers did after participating in digital storytelling training is noteworthy and suggests that teachers found this training to be meaningful – both professionally and personally. One teacher stated, “I can use this information in my professional and personal life.” Another stated, “You have enhanced my technology knowledge and teaching opportunities.”

Teachers took their enthusiasm and newfound knowledge back to their campuses to share with their principals. The administration at one campus decided to present teachers with a certificate and take “graduation” photos at the final session – which generated excitement in the training to the very end of the last day. Another campus asked for help in setting up a digital storytelling institute during which teachers and students together would learn to create digital stories revolving around course content. One campus requested that Photo Story 3 be installed on all computers throughout the campus so that all middle school students could use it to create projects. All schools asked for follow-up sessions and additional training for teachers the following year.

References

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