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"It's a Double-Edged Sword, This Technology Business": Secondary English Teachers' Perspectives on a Schoolwide Laptop Technology Initiative


by Ewa McGrail — 2006

In response to national technology mandates, schools across the United States have committed themselves to laptop technology programs as a way to encourage student-centered learning and critical thinking in collaborative classrooms. Most secondary English teachers in this study did not reject technology per se; rather, they saw some benefits of laptop technology in English instruction. Unfortunately, however, when asked to describe their overall experiences and attitudes toward technology, these teachers revealed a great deal of ambivalence about it in their instruction, especially in the context of a schoolwide laptop technology initiative. Four larger clusters of conflict contributed to this ambivalence: (1) conflicts surrounding institutional control in implementing the laptop program and teacher agency; (2) conflicts surrounding standardized testing's uncertain relationship with technology mandates; (3) conflicts surrounding technology uses in the general curriculum and technology allocation in specific class types; and (4) conflicts surrounding professional identity and the challenges that both student and teacher technology use brought to this identity. The study concludes that these teachers needed to be given greater agency in planning and implementing the laptop technology initiative and in revising their curriculum to embrace this new technology, and the necessary professional development to prepare them for such an educational innovation.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 6, 2006, p. 1055-1079
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12517, Date Accessed: 9/25/2017 4:40:54 PM

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About the Author
  • Ewa McGrail
    Georgia State University
    E-mail Author
    EWA MCGRAIL is an assistant professor of English education at Georgia State University. Her research interests are vested in four broad areas: literacy and technology, composition theory, emergent preservice teacher theory, and in-service professional teacher development.
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