Pressure Points That Impede Technology-enabled Learning in a New Zealand University: Implications for Professional Development
This research offers a new way of thinking about university teachers who have been portrayed as reluctant to adopt technology for learning and teaching. Surprisingly, the barriers that hinder teachers’ adoption of technology in higher education persist despite the many studies undertaken in this area. What remains unclear is whether these barriers can be overcome when teachers adopt technology in socially situated learning contexts. Therefore, this research investigated factors that impede university teachers from adopting and implementing technology-enabled learning when engaging in socially situated learning approaches to professional development. This investigation was undertaken in 2014 at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) with 28 teachers who adopted technology in workgroup settings. Within a social constructionist paradigm, a multiple case study inquiry was designed to surface the voices of teachers through focus groups and individual interviews. Written documents were used to access background information about AUT that informed the context for this research. Through my interpretation of this qualitative data, I developed four case study narratives from which rich descriptions of teachers’ perspectives were gained for each of the research questions. My research identified four areas of difficulty or pressure points that impede teachers from adopting and implementing technology-enabled learning in workgroup settings at AUT. The pressure points are authoritative decision-making, pedagogical development, virtual space and senior leadership. I argue that socially situated learning approaches to professional development are unlikely to have a significant impact on encouraging teachers’ implementation of technology-enabled learning if the pressure points that impede adoption projects are not explicitly addressed. I have offered the social constructionist notion of dialogic practice as an avenue for teachers to voice their perspectives when confronted by these pressure points. This research contributes to adoption and diffusion theory in higher education through the development of my Pressure Point Framework. This research is significant because it provides new knowledge about technology-related professional development in situated learning contexts and offers an alternative avenue for addressing pressure points that arise during the technology adoption process.