Exploring the impact of a teacher preparation program's laptop initiative on the faculty's teaching and learning experiences
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the impact of a laptop initiative on the learning and teaching experiences of teacher preparation faculty as they transition from teaching in traditional classrooms of limited technology resources to a one-to-one laptop environment where students, faculty, and administrators have high expectations for technology integration. The popularity of campus-wide or departmental laptop programs is growing but we know very little about how the laptop initiatives are changing faculty’s approaches to teaching and learning. The study initiative and its eleven participants are associated with the teacher preparation program at a large research university in the South. Since the fall of 2002, the laptop initiative has required that all students entering teacher preparation professional certification programs own a laptop of prescribed hardware and software specifications. Approximately 150 –200 students begin their professional coursework each semester and thirty faculty teach the laptop classes. Four themes emerged from the data: the change process experienced during the implementation of an innovation, benefits and challenges of the laptop initiative, elements and services critical to a successful implementation, and the changing environment within a college-wide technology initiative. Generally, participants found that the one-to-one environment enriched communication, nurtured a more reflective professional, and provided new modes of assessment. The majority of participants were pleased with the program thus far, noting that training and excellent technical support are critical and expressing a desire to develop professional working relationships with support staff. Challenges included modifying pedagogy to take advantage of the new resources, extending the technology-based campus experiences to use in the field, and addressing the issue that internet-connected laptops may at times distract students. Paramount to understanding and gauging the progress of such an initiative is the acknowledgement that all participants were experiencing a change process similar to that described by Hord, Rutherford, Huling-Austin, & Hall, G. (1987).