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Authors: Jiří Zounek, František Tůma
The processes of implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) into education are culturally and contextually sensitive. In this paper we offer an insight into these processes in the Czech Republic, a post-communist country in which the Velvet Revolution in 1989 allowed for a democratic development as well as for the exposure to and contact with western cultures. By means of an analysis of educational journals, we capture the pace and dynamics of the processes of integrating ICT in education in the Czech Republic. In the end we offer a comparison with selected studies that analyzed the same phenomena within other, predominantly western, countries.
In this paper we build on our previous research focused on the use of ICT in education in the Czech Republic which we presented at both international (e.g. Zounek 2012; Zounek & Šeďová 2007) and local (Tůma 2012) conferences.
In this paper we focus on professional educational media (both printed and electronic) published in the Czech Republic. We suppose that media considerably influence the formation of ideas, beliefs or expectations in the persons involved in school education (and in ICT). Signals that media send through their messages to their readers can be considered to be one of the key factors of successful integration of ICT into education. Therefore media are one of information channels (possibly the most important one) by means of which persons involved in school education can create their ideas about the possible uses of ICT in schools. Furthermore, media provide the readers with information about political, social and economic contexts of the implementation of ICT into education.
From a research perspective, media allow researchers and specialists to communicate by publishing reviews, theoretical and empirical studies as well as texts informing readers about new approaches to using ICT in teaching and learning processes. This way professional media provide space not only for theoretical discussions, but also for publishing the results of empirical research or developmental activities and projects. Therefore media reflect the state of the art of a part of the educational reality. Clearly, an analysis of media messages can significantly contribute to the understanding of implementation of ICT into education.
In this paper we take the above-mentioned characteristics and functions of professional media into consideration and answer the question whether and how the processes of implementation of ICT into education in the Czech Republic were reflected in Czech educational press in the years 1990–2012, i.e. within the democratic development of the country. Since no educational journal specializing in ICT is published in the Czech Republic, five most important general-educational journals were subject to our examination. The aims of the research were to analyze the topics to which the media paid attention, to identify theoretical positions of the authors, to classify empirical research studies and to describe their methodologies. We also analyzed the journal sections dedicated to discussions and book reviews. This way we attempt to give a complex picture of ICT in education in the Czech Republic since 1990.
Our research is grounded in the content analysis method, which can be used for an analysis of media messages of any type and can be focused both on the message content and on the form, author and addressee. One of the advantages of content analysis is that it is a non-intrusive technique, which means that the involvement of other persons in the research is not required. Next, content analysis allows us to investigate the processes occurring over long time periods. As regards the disadvantages of content analysis, it is limited to the investigation of the sample. Therefore the results cannot be generalized. Moreover, the interpretations of the findings are valid only for the research sample (Babbie, 2001).
The unit of observation in our research was ICT in education. Individual articles in selected journals were units of analysis. A unit of analysis was an article which included an author and a headline. Therefore, studies, reviews, discussions and conference reports were included, whereas content pages were not. The articles were coded as regards the topics that they dealt with, then the codes were grouped into categories that represented a basis for the answers to our research questions.
As expected, the issues related to ICT in education are covered in Czech educational journals with various degrees of intensity. As regards their foci, the majority of empirical studies dealt with attitudes, reactions and beliefs of learners, which were measured mainly by means of questionnaires. On the contrary, very few studies dealt with the educational reality in schools directly. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a study that would measure the learning outcomes resulting from a concrete use of ICT in education.
A predominant part of empirical studies comprised a group of studies related to natural sciences, mainly biology and geography. On the other hand, empirical research related to ICT in humanities was addressed rather infrequently.
Another interesting finding is that a variety of conceptions of ICT was observed. It can be appreciated that pedagogical use was emphasized over technological aspects in a number of studies. However, only partly can the pedagogical and technological aspects reflected in the studies address the potential that ICT offers. None of the studies dealt with ICT as a communication tool in education (e.g. learner-learner or learner-teacher interaction).
Eventually, we compare the findings with the results of similar studies conducted abroad.
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