The adoption of mobile technologies for teaching and learning is an area where scarce empirical research is available. Most students and teachers in secondary schools, training colleges and universities carry a mobile device (tablet, smartphone, cell phone, ultra-portable) with them for personal and often work related reasons. So what are the factors that have an effect on the adoption by teachers of mobile technologies in education?
Recent empirical research on the Factors Impacting Teachers’ Adoption of Mobile Learning confirms the teacher acceptance model (TAM) which states that the user’s beliefs and attitudes determine, to a large extent, teachers’ adoption of technology, in teaching and learning. Those beliefs and attitudes are about the perceived usefulness of the technology and its ease of use, both of which are part of the TAM model.
This new research extended the TAM model ‘with three new variables: digital literacy, ICT anxiety and ICT teaching self-efficacy (p. 141). The three new variables in the research take into account the teacher’s emotional reactions to teaching with mobile technology and as such the research makes a significant contribution to the literature on technology adoption by teachers.
“The researchers found that perceived usefulness, ease of use, digital literacy, anxiety, and teaching self-efficacy were critical factors in lecturers’ behavioural intentions to use mobile learning” (p. 141-142). This is a particularly important finding because research has not focussed so much on the teachers’ adoption of digital technologies as it has on student adoption and there is a research gap in the adoption of digital technologies by teachers (p. 142 &154).
Although the sample of 175 survey responses can be regarded as small, this research was so thorough that replication would be an advantage to the findings. The paper details the methodology and instruments that were used in the research which makes replication quite feasible. The lengths to which the researchers have gone to ensure the validity of the instruments are really impressive.
Research into the Factors Impacting Teachers’ Adoption of Mobile Learning found that a teacher’s digital literacy at an advanced level and confidence in pedagogy or teaching self-efficacy were major determinants of successful adoption of mobile learning technologies for teaching and learning. There is an indication here that teachers need to be taught general technology skills and pedagogy with technology skills because of their importance for successful adoption. On the other hand, ICT anxiety had a clearly negative impact whereas ease of use was a moderate mediating factor only. The ICT anxiety factor is new to research and highlights the fact that ‘anxiety will make the adoption of new technology seem harder and will ultimately result in lecturers avoiding the introduction of new technology into their teaching’ (p. 153). There is an indication also that successful adoption of technology for teaching and learning requires strong support for teachers who fear a negative outcome from failure to use the equipment appropriately or looking foolish. Surprisingly, the researchers have come to the conclusion that ‘mobile technology may not be too dissimilar to other technology adoption in education’ (p. 154).
Factors Impacting Teachers’ Adoption of Mobile Learning is a clever and detailed study into the often overlooked area of research into the factors that influence teachers’ adoption of digital technologies in teaching and learning. It is compelling reading for educational leaders seeking to encourage the adoption of technology in education.
This article was first published on the Australian Council for Educational Research's Digital Education Research Network 2 (DERN) and is reproduced here in whole, courtesy of DERN.