Teachers and telecomputing: a matter of decision
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This interpretive study examines six teachers—two high school, one middle school, and three elementary—who use telecomputing tools in curriculum-based learning. The teachers were interviewed and observed in the context of their classrooms. The data were analyzed with emergent themes providing the foundation for the findings of this study. The six informants in this study made decisions about how, when, and why they use telecomputing tools in curriculum-based learning. The decisions these informants made remained within the parameters of the state and district mandated Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Their use of telecomputing tools was heavily influenced by several factors: time, student ability, grade level or content, and safety concerns. Hardware, software, and the infrastructure for online connectivity were not mentioned by the informants as barriers in their use of telecomputing tools. Though major problems of a technical nature were experienced by the informants, these problems occurred at the beginning of the school year but were rectified with little impact on the rest of the school year. The use of telecomputing tools required informants to plan beyond what they would have without the use of telecomputing tools. The lack of time to fully integrate the use of telecomputing tools into their teaching practice limited the informants from using these tools more in curriculum-based learning. Student ability and grade level were deciding factors. Informants with younger students in kindergarten tailored the use of telecomputing tools to their students' ability. Similarly, informants with intermediate, middle, and high school age students used their students' computer literacy skills to group students for collaborative learning using telecomputing tools and resources. Safety concerns were a big issue for each of the informants. The overwhelming task of supervising each student's use of the Internet and e-mail made the informant's hesitate or more cautious in using telecomputing tools especially e-mail. The Professional Instruction Model is discussed with implications for designing lessons.