The impact of ubiquitous computing on a teacher's practice : factors and conditions affecting the operationalizing of a constructivist teaching philosophy

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Ransom, Stephen M.
Bottomley, Diane M.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Elementary Education
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The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of how ubiquitous computing would affect an elementary teacher's ability to more fully operationalize her existing constructivist teaching philosophy.Research on computing technologies in K-12 schools has documented that there are numerous important barriers to technology integration in the classroom, one of which is access to computer technologies. In addition, the research documents that new technologies can act as a catalyst toward teacher change of instructional practices over time when using such technologies for teaching and learning. The literature also suggests that a teacher's use of computing technologies may contribute to a shift toward more constructivist teaching practices. Ubiquitous computing technologies are becoming more and more prevalent in K-12 schools and are removing the barriers of sufficient access and related issues of infrastructure, making it increasingly feasible to study the impact of computer-saturated environments on teaching and learning.This qualitative single case study investigated the impact of full-time in school computer ubiquity via wireless laptops for every student and the teacher in a fifth grade classroom during the 2002-2003 school year. Qualitative methods were used in the gathering and analysis of multiple forms of data.Findings1.Key enabling conditions of ubiquitous technology-supported constructivist practices were (i) peer support and collaboration, (ii) ubiquitous access to information, curriculum, and tools, (iii) time to plan, implement, and assess inquiry-based instruction, (iv) technical support, technical knowledge, and reliable hardware, and (v) software to support student construction of knowledge and projects.2. This teacher's preexisting pedagogical beliefs positively impacted her ability to implement and sustain a shift toward more constructivist teaching practices.3.Computing ubiquity facilitated this teacher's (i) planning for inquiry-based learning activities, (ii) ability to remain flexible and spontaneous, (iii) desire and motivation to pursue her own professional inquiry, (iv) it reduced the amount of risk required to make and sustain changes of pedagogy coupled with high technology use, and (v) it accelerated the time required to assume ownership of a technological innovation.This study concludes with the suggestion for a new model of ubiquitouscomputing based upon the findings of this study.