Teaching with technology in higher education: understanding conceptual change

Maarten van de Ven

The objective of this longitudinal study of 10 years was to reveal the variation and changes in conceptions of and approaches to teaching with technology over time of teachers in Higher Education. The study has shown that novice teachers developed their conceptions of and approaches to teaching with technology towards more student-centered approaches. This change is long term and gradual. Their more established colleagues exhibited little to no change. They seem to have reached pedagogical inertia; they consider their teaching approach to be adequate and not requiring change.

When teachers are inexperienced with teaching with technology, they frequently base their initial development of teaching on their overall pedagogical beliefs and model their own teaching on that which they themselves experienced. It is probable that beginning teaching with educational technology was easier for novice teachers, since they had no preconceptions of teaching. Although these novice teachers initially had a more teacher-focused approach, they were able to develop and change more rapidly than experienced colleagues. Novice teachers are more malleable in terms of their ability to change their conceptions and approaches.

The authors conclude that focusing professional development activities on early career academics, as they enter the profession, is likely to lead to a more lasting and progressive impact on the field. By supporting university teachers in the task of changing their conceptions of teaching and learning, a more effective use of educational technology can be achieved.

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