Digital Technologies and the Senior Geography Classroom: Teachers’ Perceptions of the Impact on Teaching and Learning
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With the dawn of the 21st century, there was a great expectation that a digital revolution would take place and transform the classroom. This technological change would see students take control of their learning and the role of the teacher would be transformed from a holder of knowledge to a facilitator. The premise of this research is to see to what extent this transformation has occurred, and to explore the perceptions and experiences of senior geography teachers regarding the implementation of digital technologies into senior geography. There is abundant literature relating to how digital technologies influence student learning, how they can influence pedagogy and how they can be introduced into the geography curriculum. This research study looks at these issues in terms of the current reality for senior geography teachers. The two aims of this research are, firstly, to investigate the perceptions of senior geography teachers on the use of digital technologies in their subject and the influence of this on their pedagogies. Secondly, the research aims to investigate which digital technologies are used in senior geography, how teaching and learning have changed as a result of their use, and the implications of this for the future of the subject. This study employs a qualitative approach and follows a constructivist paradigm. Six senior geography teachers, who are currently teaching senior geography, were interviewed in order to explore their perceptions and experiences concerning the implementation of digital technologies. The stipulation was that they must have at least two years’ experience in teaching senior geography. The findings were analysed through the thematic approach using a coding process to identify themes. The findings were then presented by themes in accordance with three sub questions, which were designed to meet the aims of the study and answer the main research question. The findings showed that there were three major trends with regard to the implementation of digital technologies into senior geography. One trend concerned the digital literacy of the senior geography teachers and students, which hindered the implementation of high level digital technologies. A second trend related to the disparities in access to digital technologies for senior geography teachers and students, which had implications on pedagogy as well as affecting the potential of these technologies to contribute to the enhancement of geography as a subject. The third trend emphasised the importance of expectations from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), with regard to meeting assessment criteria, in influencing pedagogy. This was compounded by school policies and the expectations of senior management. Recommendations from this study include a radical change in what it means to implement digital technologies into senior geography, changing the curriculum in order to address digital literacy, changing how geography is taught inside and outside the classroom and providing equality for both the geography teacher and student in terms of accessibility to digital technologies.