What are the factors to consider when managing the implementation of a 1:1 computer program?
My current school, a 1900 K – 12, fee-paying bilingual school in Buenos Aires, Argentina is beginning the process of becoming a 1:1 school. This paper attempts to qualify and explore the general factors to consider when attempting to manage the introduction of a school based 1:1 computer program, as well as specific considerations in the case of my own school.
The paper draws its conclusions from three main areas of research: a literature review of theory on technology and education, specific case studies on the use of technology in education and my own experiences in my present school. Based on the above, my central argument is that in order to successfully implement and sustain a 1:1 program, schools must consider and manage three key factors:
Firstly, I argue that in adapting a 1:1 program and placing technology at the center of teaching and learning, the fundamental role of teacher and student will be altered. Teachers will no longer be the source of knowledge and direction. Instead the teacher, in being upgraded, as it were, will be expected to be a facilitator and encourage the student to explore the unknown without being expected to know the answers; instead being able to advise the students on how best to go about finding these answers for themselves. This is a fundamental change in expectations for teachers and managerial support in providing a climate in which such experimentation and risk taking can take place, is vital. This is especially the case when schools remain teacher-focused rather than student-focused and seemingly contradict the notion of 21 century skills with 19 century knowledge based curricula.
Secondly, in asking teachers and students to use technology as a conduit for learning, schools are asking for a change in perception towards technology; learning through technology, rather than using it as an add-on, Cuban(1993).. That is to say, technology is integrated with the content rather than a new means of delivering the content. In supporting this transition, managers have to support and create an “evolution of change” Wagner et al (2006:6),to allow teachers to move towards the integration of pedagogy and technology.. This can be done through the provision of technological and pedagogical support and, in order to be successful, needs to be planned, reviewed and coordinated in a systematic, cohesive manner.
Finally, I argue that there is no one-fit plan for schools in adapting to 1:1. Every school has its own unique ecosystem and will face its own challenges. At best, case studies and literature on the subject can be interpreted as best practice advice. In my experience in my own school, for example, the current financial situation means that importing specific equipment and strengthening wi-fi provision as part of a providing a platform for the development for 1:1 cannot be steadfastly planned. As a consequence, I have found that we might not have the luxury of systematic planning prior to staggered stages of introduction for our own programe. We may well have to improvise our implementation around a flexible plan. This is not a model reflected in any of the research but, with current geographical and financial considerations, it may be only the way that our school can implement a program in practice: Were we to wait for ideal planning considerations, as reflected in a lot of the literature, our 1:1 programe might never begin.
The literature review was carried out to try to identify central ideas underpinning the notion of managing technological innovation in the context of 1: 1 education. Specific factors to consider were identified in relation to: Change management in an educational context, literature on general technological innovation in schools, specific writing on technological and pedagogical change and integration in schools, and general writing on the increasingly central role of technology in twenty first century education.
Factors to consider as a result of the literature review
Technology use sits within the framework of 21 century education.
A central idea connected to the idea of education and technology is that school, as an institution, is outdated. Rshaid (2011), Gusky (2001), and Hawkridge (1990) consider “school” as outdated and more aligned to the time of the industrial revolution. They see a move towards computer integration with pedagogy as a reflection of contemporary society and an attempt to align the desired multiple skills of knowledge Gardener (1989) of potential employers with the skillset on offer at school today. In doing so, these writers also draw upon the ideas of Cuban (1993) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2006) and the notion of teachers needing ensure that they are relevant in content and delivery for “real learning” to take place in a meaningful way with “Digital natives”, Prensky (2001).
2. The role of technology and innovation in education.
The second area highlighted through the literary review is the relationship between technology, innovation and professional development. The review included several perspectives on approaches to innovating schools through technology. At the heart of this is the need to invest in and continue to invest in, time for resources and professional development, in order to develop and refine teacher skill and student learning in technology based classrooms: Baylor and Ritchie (2002), Haelermans and Blank (2012),and OECD(2010).
3. The need to integrate technology and pedagogy for both to be effective in school.
Strongly linked with the literature on technology and innovation is the need to integrate technology and pedagogy effectively. Ng and Nicholas (2009) considered the ubiquitous nature of technology and the need to differentiate between technology as an add-on and as an integrated part of learning. This is an idea developed further by Lawson and Comber (1999) in their article which considers this, amongst other peripheral factors, leading to the successful integration of ict in schools and colleges. In relation to this,Kopcha(2012), Schussler et al(2007), Ifenthaler (2013) and Teo (2011) consider teacher perceptions and attitudes towards the use and implementation of ICT as part of administrative attempts to innovate and move schools towards notions of relevant, 21 century education.
4. The importance of adoptive management approaches when introducing change.
The final and most important factor highlighted through the literature review is the notion that change, if it is to be long term and sustainable, must be adaptive rather than technological, Wagner et al (2006). This is to say that successful administrators must themselves become dynamic and open to and engage in change as well as the institutions they are trying to affect change in Wagner et al (2006), Gregory (1996)
To date, there have been no case studies involving the creation of 1:1 schools or the management of the introduction of technology into schools in Argentina to consider in writing this paper. As a result I have had to consider case studies from other country contexts as a way of identifying general factors to consider in relation to implementing a 1:1 program.
The findings of the case studies used in writing this paper can be divided into several areas:
The successful use of technology improves academic results.
The Berkshire Wireless learning initiative (Bebell and Kay, 2010) and the article written by Bebell D & O’Dwyer, (2010), highlight the key relationship between technology and improved student performance. This claim is furthered through the case study carried out by Gulek JC & Demirtas H (2005)which focuses on the improvements to student achievement as a result of working with laptops.
In addition to the core argument that technology improves results, both studies highlight the need to consider the teacher’s role in the classroom, the integration of technology and pedagogy, and management support and development of pedagogic learning through PD as a key to a successful adaption of a 1:1 system. This links to the next consideration highlighted through the case studies.
The integration of technology & pedagogy is key for educational success using new technology.
Case studies carried out by Shu Ching Yang & Yen-Fen Huang (2008) and Shu Ching yang & Yi-Ju Chan (2007) demonstrate the importance of the establishing and implementing a link between the technical and the pedagogical aspects of a successful 1:1 program. They argue that the creation of a supported technological framework as being key to successful teaching and learning. This relates to the next factor to consider, a management approach that is supportive and forward thinking in its attitude to technology and education.
Change Management must be adoptive and create a supportive environment for technology use to develop.
Key to introducing a successful 1:1 program and supportive infrastructure is the management approach. OECD (2001) argues that successful approaches to managing technological innovation such as 1:1 involve a decentralization of authority in the school structure as well as an ongoing process of renewal. Furthermore, the OECD add that successful innovative schools focus on the development of the school as a community of learners in its own right, which implies management encouragement that staff themselves take on new challenges and learn and an implied acceptance that such risks may involve occasional failures.
Continuing this theme, Ng & Nicholas (2009) and Chandra, Bliss, Cox (1988) concur with these ideas and state the importance of management and interpersonal considerations in relation to staff, professional development, and technological support when trying to implementation a pedagogic approach heavily infused with technology.
Every school is unique and there is no single fit solution when introducing a 1:1 program.
It is interesting to note that case studies, whilst undoubtedly being useful as highlighting general areas to consider, by doing so, show that each school is an ecosystem unto itself and that there is no one fit plan for any innovation. For example, in a South American context, De Freitas & de Mello (2012) consider,amongst many findings,the idea that in the context of their study, in order to complement pedagogy with technology, staff are encouraged to integrate existing skills with new technology where they can. This contrasts starkly with other case studies arguing for a tightly structured, minute by minute action plan for the successful integration of pedagogy and technology in their context.
A final factor to consider is made by James & Jones (2008) who looked at staff unreliability in conducting research. They argue that staff may participate in research through a desire to be helpful, rather than contribute genuine feelings and serves as a “pinch of salt” reminder to the reliability of case study findings and implementing anything strictly on the basis of teacher questionnaire response.
Factors arising from my own experiences of 1:1 so far
The third area of consideration for this paper was my own experience to date as my own school looks to introduce a 1:1 program. These can be broken down into several areas: Geographic, financial and structural, technological and pedagogical.
A major consideration for a school based in Argentina in the current economic climate is the rising importation taxes. (This isn’t an economics paper, but in short, this is part of a government policy to “boost” national industry and encourage Argentine manufacturing). The result of this policy is that products made outside Argentina are heavily taxed. For examples, products and makes such as the Apple IPad and the Google Chrome series cost as much as three times the price that they sell for in the USA. Our school, therefore, has to explore cheaper imitations based on the tablet and android apps as a way of reproducing the products in order to get a sense of what can be done with a device in the classroom. It appears that our choice of devices and approaches to going to 1:1 will be limited to Samsung. Having looked at several devices and sitting through several sales pitches, it appears that this might be a viable alternative to Apple. It is possible to argue that this company is attempting to take advantage of the problems of buying and supporting Apple products in Argentina through producing very similar products, manufactured in Argentina, which they can sell reasonably cheaply in the country, Mount (2012).
As a consequence of this reduction of choice, it is very difficult to find evidence of schools with a 1:1 program working in a similar situation. Examples of Apple and Chrome, amongst others, proliferate, yet there is a scarcity of examples in South America and as yet, I have not been able to see a working 1:1 school in this part of the world. This has very much made the point that, although we can access advertorials from companies such as Apple and Google Chrome, the reality is that we are working blind and looking at using our own mix of devices and androids that we hope will complement the unique situation the school and country is in. As a consequence, we cannot “buy-in” product, support and pedagogical training/advice, as offered by Apple and Google. We need to consider all of these as separate elements, which has implications in terms of finance, school structure and pedagogy.
A major consideration of the school’s move towards 1:1 is financial. The actual product we are going to use (and here we are yet to decide or pilot possible choices) is actually the least of our concerns, as it appears likely that the parents will be buying whichever product we eventually decide on. A more pressing consideration is the huge cost involved in changing the school insurance status to allow it cover students bringing in such devices and replacing any should loss or damage occur. There are further cost and space implications in building secure storage and charging facilities for students to use for their devices during breaks in the school day. The most pressing financial consideration is to upgrade the school wi-fi across two sites (MIddle and High school) to ensure that coverage will support whole school 1:1 use on a daily basis.
Another emerging financial consideration is the need to ensure that the school has adequate technical support staff to deal with the day to day technical needs of 800 students and 100 staff. At the moment the ITC staff is splitting their time between technical support and the delivery of Information Technology /Information Technology in a Global Society (IT /ITGS) from year 7 – 12 and service 300 “fixed” computers. There is also the pedagogical need to ensure that staff is provided regular pedagogical and technical “integration” training to ensure that computers are used effectively in the classroom. In my opinion, it would seem prudent to create the position of technology coordinator to help teachers use computers as part of teaching and learning. This is a staff, structure and ultimately budgetary consideration.
Related to this new position of Integration trainer is the necessity to ensure that 1:1 pedagogy is sustained and continuously developed rather than an expensive gimmick that falls into disuse. This means that, as well as providing ongoing practical training for staff on how to use computers as part of 1: 1 pedagogy, current department and whole school schemes of work and associated assessment and reporting policies need to be re-written. The school also needs to decide on and start the process of writing a computer use policy. This is a huge task in such a large school and requires planning and consideration on the part of the administration.
Finally, the school admin need to look at ways of reducing the discord between the 20C knowledge based curriculum that the school follows in the form of the IGCSE exams and the 21C skills based curriculum that is implied by the adopting of the 1:1 program in the first place.
Conclusions: A discussion of the considerations / factors arising from the literature review, case studies and my own experiences.
Through the literature review, the case studies and my own experiences to date, it is possible to argue that there are several areas considered as fundamental when managing the implementation of a 1:1 program. In this section I have tried to identify and explore several in relation to the approach in general and also specifically in relation to my own school. I argue that these must be considered during the planning stage and implemented throughout the implementation stage, irrespective of the idiosyncrasies of individual country contexts.
1. A systematic plan of development is vital and no two plans are alike.
The literature and case studies I have considered have largely dealt with the implementation, review and re-implementation aspects of a school going 1:1. My own experience to date has largely highlighted the importance of ensuring that schools have a systematic plan for going 1:1. This needs to be based on research and consultation with teachers, students, community and administration as a way of establishing practical and pedagogical boundaries prior to making the huge commitment to start the process. A severe lack of cohesion on the part of my own school Admin has meant that the school is being pushed into going 1:1 without systematic research and piloting. This means that much of the research and piloting is being done on an ad-hoc basis and financial planning is reactive and limited.
Another interesting consideration is that through reading these case studies it that of the unreliability and scarcity of comprehensive research into this subject. This underlines the notion that case studies of schools are case studies of individual learning and teaching cultures and that only general trends rather than absolutes can be inferred:, “There has generally been a lack of large scale research and evaluation focusing on teaching and learning in (21 C ) computing environments” Bebell & Kay (2010:6).
In addition, existing research is deemed to be largely general in nature and “ignores culture and makes no reference to larger macro-societal or national cultural configurations” and that “No two societies are alike demographically, economically, socially or politically”, Dimmock & Walker (2000: 146). This implies very much that schools must embrace the “risk of the unknown” (De Freitas & de Mello, (2012:1286). and can only make guiding plans based on research and the experience of other schools. Every school’s plan will be unique.
In the case of my own school, through research into the subject, we are aware of the different stages we need to go through in order to plan, implement, review and re-implement. However, we are also highly aware of our own unique situation in relation to trying to introduce such a program. Financial barriers (and our own school budget uncertainty) as well as a limited availability of technical resources means that we have to be much more flexible than research suggests.
2. Technology and twenty first century learning approaches must be at the heart of a move to 1:1.
My own school is forward thinking and, as staff, we are conscious of the need to marry together technology with other twenty first century skills. A key part of our “planning” phase is to ensure that the move to 1:1 is synonymous with a larger scale move towards teaching 21 century skills. This is related to broader educational questions involving curriculum review and our current assessment and skills expectations from 7 – 12. We know that we “need to go beyond the basics to prepare the students for a life that will be drastically different from that which the educator experienced”,Baylor & Ritchie ( 2002:400), and that the curriculum we offer our students is relevant to them and their future employers.
3. Technological innovations will have an impact on pedagogy and learning outcomes.
Linked to a move towards 21 Century skills is the reality that 1:1 will mean huge pedagogical changes in schools which are moving towards the adoption of a 1:1 program. In my current institution, the administration is trying to work with heads of department and heads of teaching and learning to try to smooth over the docking problems in matching pedagogy with technology. This is primarily to try to look at accommodating the teacher and learning outcomes in relation to the change in the role of the teacher and the changing relationship between teacher and student. It is also a move to try and add weight to the notion that technology must be used as a central part of teaching rather than an add-on.
The common theme in all the case studies considered for this paper was of the positive effect on current measurable results that using technology as a teaching and learning tool afforded. This was most notable through Bebell & Kay, who observed that “There was evidence that the types of educational access and opportunities afforded by 1 to 1 computing through the pilot program led to measurable changes in teacher practices, student achievement..engagement…and research skills” (2010:4).
Also linked to this is an implicit acceptance that, to do it well, the fundamental role of an educator must change as well. This implies, “Fundamental changes in teaching”, Bebell & Kay, (2010:17). The teacher ceases to be a voice at the front of the room and takes on the role of facilitator. “A move towards child-centered learning requires a profound transformation in the general culture and ethos of schools,” Rashid, (2011:58). In effect this means retraining the teacher in a technological context.
At the heart of this retraining or change of emphasis is the idea of the uptake of a 1:1 program only being successful if technology is used as a central pillar rather than an add-on for teaching and learning. This demands an acceptance of student as center of the class rather than teacher and it follows that the teacher is moved from being the “sage on the stage to becoming a co-worker with the students,” Rshaid, (2011:54). In effect, this “frees the students from dependence on the teacher for access to information and enables the student to take the technology with them outside the classroom”.
Finally, a key component in this change is the new role of technology in teaching and learning, which was epitomized as “learning to use the technology to using the technology to learn”, Lawson & Comber (1999:50). Key to this transformation is the change of the attitude of teachers and schools towards technology; from add-on to an integral part of the process. This involves a huge change in perception from teachers and schools alike.
4. The integration of pedagogy and technology requires staff development and technological support.
Linked to this idea of changing teacher perceptions towards technology and pedagogy is the need for practical support and training. Simply “Introducing well-designed computer technology with the classroom is no guarantee of enhancement in learning opportunities”, Shu Ching Yang & Yen-Fen Huang (2008: 1098). A key element to considering what is essentially retraining teaches for this pedagogic shift is the use of teachers’ time, “The organizational factors of time and resources played an important role in the teachers’ attitudes” , Chandra, Bliss, Cox (1988:60). Furthermore, as stated earlier, just being given computers doesn’t mean that teachers will be able to use them. Provision for professional development is important in developing the teachers’ skills and connected student-focused learning environment. Case studies show that “a lack of time for pd, especially in the form of teacher collaboration to develop best practices with school, becomes a barrier to effective integration of computers and web resources in the classroom” ,Bebell & O’Dwyer, (2010:10).
To this extent, my school’s heads of teaching and learning are working with the IT dept to plan and deliver two distinct courses of professional development for staff: technical skills, such as email, Photoshop, using search engines etc… and training sessions on the integration of technology and pedagogy to ensure that technology is a key component of student centered learning rather than an add-on.
Related to the provision of these courses, it is possible to argue that my school’s administrators need to consider training for use of technology as important as the technology itself and need to consider this as part of technical and pedagogical support; “School administrators could manage the teaching environment in ways that teachers would feel supported in terms of technical and human resources to provide training and guidance on technology usage and troubleshooting”, Teo(2011: 2438). A knock on effect of this provision is that teachers will begin become aware of the “ Demands (for) new learning strategies” that this new approach implies, on the part of teachers and students alike, Shu Ching yang, Yi-Ju Chan, ( 2009: 860)
Indeed, related for this is the desire for administrators to not only provide training and ongoing support, but to also create “a positive climate that will support others as they learn to adapt to new technologies”, De Freitas & de Mello (2012: 1286). In effect this would give the teachers a chance to risk without the consequences of failure, and at the same time, put them in a position to be twenty first century learners alongside their students! This will be evident in my school when departments start to produce schemes of work that are built around the assimilation of technology and pedagogy.
5. The integration of technology involves changing teacher perceptions
It is possible to argue that this change in perception is the biggest potential problem to overcome. “The use of IT..demands a change in attitudes, knowledge and classroom practice at the same time” Fallan, (1991) quoted in Lawson & Comber (1999: 3). This underlines the whole notion of forcing education and educators through a high speed modernization in a matter of months rather than years.
However, undermining this need to “toggle between pedagogy and technology,” Teo (2011: 2432), is the reality that change is a long, drawn out, arduous affair: “The implementation of technology requires change, is cumbersome and cannot be forced”, Shu Ching Yang & Yen-Fen Huang (2009:1086). Essentially underlining the need for managers to approach the technological, and pedagogical, demands as two distinct parts of the same problem. An additional consideration is the fear and reluctance of teachers to change and to “risk” new technology and pedagogical approaches, as this essentially puts them in a position where “ To change or try something new means to risk failure”, Guskey, (2001:386).
Consequently, it can be argued that managers of schools must accept that, access to computers doesn’t ensure that teachers will be able to successfully integrate technology into classroom instruction.(Schussler et al (2007) (Becker (2000), Cuban (2001), Stein et al (2002), Wiske et al (1988). The expense and time of training and development of staff usage of this technology is vital if the change is to be permanent, continuous, and valuable.
To this effect, it appears that there is an explicit need for “teachers (to) be well equipped with technological, pedagogical knowledge, embracing technology as a theoretical framework with which to base the design and deployment of technology”, Shu Ching Yang & Yen-Fen Huang (2009: 1098). Which is supported by the observation from Baylor & Ritchie that, “Schools that are successful in integrating technology into the curriculum are often guided by a comprehensive technology plan” (2002:385). This puts a clear set of tasks before managers attempting to implement such a change.
6. School leadership is the key to ensuring that integration and practice is dynamic and effective
Finally, as well as this technology representing a shift in the role of teachers and the provision of professional development and the integration of technology and pedagogy, a key element in the success of the move toward the implementation of a 1:1 program is a change in the role and function of the school administrator. In the case of my school, the administration is facing several major challenges relating to its role and function that could directly affect the level of success we experience in implementing 1:1.
Firstly, a key problem facing Administrators is that the implementation of a 1:1 program in a school means that the institution of school and school management will be forced to change. This is the equivalent of asking for a one hundred year upgrade in the time it takes to install and use a laptop. As Wagner observes, “…the way in which educators’ work is organized has not changed significantly during the last century”, (2006:71). And yet the contradiction of managers and administrators not practicing what the technology preaches is evident; “we want to develop young people who are participating members of society. We must model that by being collaborating members of the educational community” (OECD (2001:147). Administration must be realistic in the goals and expectations it sets for teaching staff and to look at ways that technology and curriculum can be more effectively aligned. A key move in this direction in my school can be seen in how administration has tried to participate more actively in providing and delivering professional development opportunities involving technology to staff.
Also, it seems that the onus on school managers is to evolve themselves and provide a context in which teachers, technology and schools, as part of a web of resources, can function in a student based, twenty first century, environment. Managers on every single level must be aware of their own influence on the success or failure of technology in schools; “The management style of each department involved has an influence on the uptake and use of technology”,Chandra, Bliss, Cox, (1988:60). Furthermore, the inter-relationship “between the teacher’s attitudes and the organization of the school” ,Chandra, Bliss, Cox, (1988: 61), is vital. In the case of my school, an increased role in teaching and learning using technology and regular staff meetings in which technology and teaching with technology innovations are recognised and discussed is a strong supporting step.
To this end, the case studies largely put forward the argument that school leaders must look towards a greater sharing of responsibility on every level at school. The OECD argue for “ Decentralisation and deregulation (which) allow(s) for greater freedom and flexibility” (2001: 46). Indeed Gregory adds, “Leadership (must be) shared through all levels in educational institutions from apex to base of organizational hierarchy” (1996:47) . The ultimate goal of which is to integrate teachers, technology and schools into an environment where students can be directed towards discovering the skills to make them the knowledge workers of tomorrow. In my school, the creation of technology and pedagogy integration coordinators alongside heads of department has refocused teaching and learning to include teaching, learning and technology. This move has been supported further through raising the profile of the professional development coordinator and his willingness to organise and deliver technical and integration courses for staff as part of their working week.
The case studies were useful in providing general guidance on the management of implementing a 1:1 program in secondary schools but they were also useful in highlighting areas for further research that, in the example of my own school, would provide more support and guidance for other bi-lingual, fee paying schools in Argentina and Latin America.
For example qualitative research could be carried out into other similar schools that have attempted and are attempting to introduce a 1:1 program in Argentina and Uruguay. This could be broadened to IB schools in Latin America in order to compare more closely with the needs of my own school. In addition, it would be useful to look at a comparative study of private school management strategies in Argentina and South America and North America/Europe. This would be in order to try and equate management styles with results of computer usage in schools, which is largely north American based.
Also, it would interesting to consider cultural variation in carrying out a comparative study of teachers perceptions towards managers/administrators and change, in Southern America and Northern America, both free and fee paying. This would set current research into a north American context and provide guidance and context on results of 1:1 programs and results currently taking place in South America.
Finally, it would be interesting to look at carrying out further research into the provision of technological and pedagogical professional development carried out in comparable schools in Latin America. This would help provide more data with which to analyze IB results in a 1:1 context in Latin America.
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