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The Implementation of Technology in Schools: Lessons From Eight Sites

Stecher, Brian M.; Wilder, Gita Z.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Computer Assisted Instruction, Computers, Educational Technology, Microcomputers, States, Technology


This series of case studies was undertaken in order to identify the context variables that affect the implementation of technology in schools. The sites were selected to represent a range of applications of computer technology, and some variance with respect to the success of the technology relative to its intended use. Candidate sites were obtained through nominations by knowledgeable individuals and a review of the literature on technology in schools. Each site was visited by two investigators for periods of up to four days. Data was collected via observation and interview, for which a series of questions had been developed, and the review of relevant documents. Case studies of each site were prepared. The information collected across the eight sites revealed two predominant patterns of implementation of technology: a top-down approach, managed by the school and/or district and typically associated with an integrated learning system or other centrally located installation, and a "grass-roots" or bottom-up approach, usually involving a variety of applications. The results also suggest that the process of implementation is best studied longitudinally, rather than in the cross-sectional fashion of the current study. An interesting implication of the results for developers of technology-based assessment systems was the finding, across all sites, that teachers did not routinely use or find helpful the many and varied progress reports supplied them by the technologies investigated.

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