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An instructional designer learns about technology integration: Developmental work research in an urban school

, University of Colorado at Denver, United States

University of Colorado at Denver . Awarded


In the twenty-first century, computer literacy has many benefits. Many people support computer use in schools so that all children can become computer literate and have improved learning outcomes. However, while the presence of computers and Internet connections in classrooms is rising, technology integration in classrooms is not keeping pace. The purpose of this study was to learn about technology integration at an urban elementary school, with a focus on understanding what elements contribute to the slow pace of such integration. This study pursued the research question: what can an instructional designer learn about technology integration by participating as a volunteer at an urban school? This qualitative study used developmental work research, a sociocultural interventionist research method based on Cultural Historical Activity Theory, to study technology integration at an urban school. Technology integration has three prerequisites: the instructional design process to produce an educational technology innovation; the technology adoption process for teachers to implement that innovation in their classrooms; and the removal of contextual barriers that constrain technology integration.

The author spent three years helping in an after school computer club, assisting teachers and students to use computers in classrooms, and using participant observation to collect data. The data showed that teachers, who are often blamed for the slow pace of technology integration, operate under tremendous constraints, and often lack sufficient computers, software, planning time, and technical support. Analysis of the data revealed that technology integration is impacted by three forces: technology, agency, and structure. All three of these forces must be taken into account when integrating technology in classrooms. With increasingly diverse students and mandated curricula and testing, teachers' agency is diminished in relation to growing structural constraints. Therefore, the design of educational technology innovations needs to fit the classroom context, and structural constraints need to be lowered. Also, people that share the same object of student learning, particularly instructional designers and teachers, need to use a participation model of instructional design that combines elements of technology adoption, design based research, and developmental work research to collaboratively design and implement educational technology innovations in classrooms.


Doughty, V.M. An instructional designer learns about technology integration: Developmental work research in an urban school. Ph.D. thesis, University of Colorado at Denver. Retrieved June 17, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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