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Title: ICT integration in home economics classrooms : a study using an online community of practice
Author: Mugliett, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2706 3861
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2009
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The aim of this study was to explore the use of an online community of practice that would support Home Economics teachers in gaining the experience and knowledge necessary in order to integrate ICT effectively in their classroom practice. The project, which was conducted on a virtual learning environment, provided a channel and opportunity for teachers to acquire the knowledge and skills required to encourage ICT use. Rogers' (2003) diffusion of innovation process was the principal framework utilised and structured the process on the online community of practice. The participants, who were teachers and student-teachers of Home Economics, were led systematically from one phase to another of the framework in order to implement and confirm this innovation in the Home Economics class. The effectiveness of the online community of practice for the dissemination of knowledge, for improving classroom practice and hence as a professional development medium were researched in this study. A mixed-method approach was used in the methodology of this case study. In this study I undertook a reflective process into my own pedagogical practices and Rogers' (2003) framework and through this method I tried to offer support and confidence to Home Economics teachers to expose them to effective technology integration. Analysis and evaluation were obtained from data collected through both quantitative and qualitative methods. A questionnaire was used to map out main responses whilst interviews and the forum discussions were used to draw out more in depth findings in order to answer the research questions. The data were analysed both inductively and deductively drawing from Rogers' (2003) theoretical model view and a content analysis method was utilised for the discussion forums and interactions on the online community of practice. The applicability of Rogers' model for this professional development exercise was also analysed as a result of the effectiveness of the community of practice and its implications for the educational community. The findings show that through this online activity teachers' knowledge relating to the positive use of ICT in education can be confirmed. Teachers also gained confidence in use through the sharing of ideas, through online feedback and through exposure to a community which brought teachers together in an asynchronous learning environment. The findings show that what teachers need most is the 'how-to' knowledge when an innovation is being diffused into set practice and this online community seems to have been an effective medium to deliver this. However, there were barriers which hindered more active participation, which greatly affected the knowledge construction on the online community of practice. In conclusion one can say that support for technology integration should be provided for teachers from more formal policy driven and monitored professional development settings. An online community of practice can be the ideal medium to offer this even if not exclusive and over a long span of time, to provide the ongoing support which is necessary for technology integration. Teachers must also take up the challenge to make a significant paradigm shift in practice but also in training in order to maintain a more flexible and autonomous approach to professional development in technology and pedagogic practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available