Teachers' concepts and beliefs about educational software : a case study of teachers within a software development process
Most present day educational software has been designed for use as a cognitive tool, aimed at fostering students' learning outcomes and without considering the teaching framework in which it will be used. A literature review demonstrated that there is a lack of evidence about teachers' concepts and beliefs concerning educational software. In order to address this issue a case study was designed in which teachers would need to think deeply and purposefully about the characteristics and features of software. The case chosen was a process of educational software development, in which two teachers, a software engineer, a psychologist and a graphic designer, were committed to develop a piece of software during a seven month period. In each session the teachers expressed ideas and conceptions about software and were continuously reflecting on its nature. The sessions were video-recorded and the tapes transcribed, these data were analysed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques using systemic networks to organise and give a structure to the categories of analysis. Based on the discussion of the findings, the main implications of this study are represented as a model of understanding of educational software that considers teachers' actual concepts and beliefs about computers and software. This model, firstly, shows, that these teachers conceived of the computer as a resource that could replace them in the role of managing students' rehearsal of materials, and, secondly, presents the characteristics of the educational software that these teachers designed and shows the dimensions of their teaching strategies (classroom atmosphere, pedagogy, and learning conceptions) that were embedded in these characteristics (human-computer interface, browsing, and interaction with the software respectively). This model demonstrates significant links between the study of Pedagogy and the study of Information Technology in Education and has implications for the relationship between these two areas of research and consequently for teacher training.