Introducing computers into education : a case study of the Greek situation
The study explores the process of the introduction of computers into education as an educational innovation. The thesis distinguishes two fundamental categories of computer use in schools (IT and ITE), and identifies the different rationales for their initiation at a national level, and the different objectives they reflect at the school level. It also provides a conceptual framework to explore the process of the innovation. It identifies the value that the computer use represents and the complexity it involves as the main factors that influence its initiation into education. Moreover, it explores the ways in which the meaning of the computer use as well as the context of its implementation influence the computer use. The cases of England and Germany illustrate the theoretical considerations of the thesis. The case study of the introduction of computers into Greek general education attempts to capture the complexity of the process as shaped by the characteristics of computer use and by the specific Greek context. The Greek case study confirms that the value and the complexity of computer use influence its initiation. However, it shows that their codification depends on the specific characteristics of an educational system, the priorities of a country, and its infrastructure. It indicates that the interrelations of these factors at particular points in time, is more important than the factors themselves. It stresses the high levels of technical complexity of the particular innovation. It indicates, however, that a highly centralised bureaucratic educational system can not easily cope with this issue, while more flexible schemata are needed to combine local initiatives with centralised support. Next, it shows that the meaning of computer use is perceived differently by participants and is shaped in the transition from policy to implementation. It demonstrates how policy documents are often contradictory to each other, creating a lack of clarity about the meaning of the attempted computer use. Additionally, the study illustrates that the proposed computer use is not always implemented the way its initiators envisaged it. It suggests that the reasons for discrepancies may differ among educational systems. In the Greek case study discrepancies were due to a lack of clarity in meaning, as well as to a lack of resources. Moreover, the infrastructure provided by the Greek prescriptive educational system to support the implementation of IT did not encourage initiatives on behalf of the teachers. Finally, the case study points that although the fast evolution of technology requires flexible procedures to keep up with change, it also stresses the importance of continuity. Therefore, flexible management structures need to co-exist with long term plans.