Composing With New Technology: Teacher Reflections on Learning Digital Video

May. 10, 2015

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 66(3), 2015, p. 272-287.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This research examines the responses of teachers, who learned and used an emerging technology in the context of subject-related content.

The participants were 240 English language arts (ELA) teachers in 15 courses learned to use digital video (DV), completed at least one DV group project, and responded to open-ended survey questions.
The data examined connections they made between print and DV composing, the best and most frustrating aspects of DV, content they still wanted to learn, and its relevance in their classrooms.


The teachers indicated clear connections with the composing processes of print and DV. They also demonstrated high engagement with DV composition.
Teachers found the creative and technical aspects of the productions as well as group work to be both rewarding and frustrating.
In addition, teachers wanted to become more familiar with the process and products of DV as they considered how this technology could be integrated into their own classrooms.

Although a number of the 240 teachers involved with this study indicated a variety of frustrations with learning DV, not one of their responses mentioned being bored or uninterested with the projects.
These teachers also considered how their students could compose DVs.
They saw many pedagogical benefits and DV’s curricular connections with both writing and reading.
They perceived the value in using DV despite problematic issues with equipment and groups.
The teachers demonstrated connecting print and DV components through their use of transmediation.
In using this literacy strategy, over half of the teachers made explicit associations with ways in which prewriting, drafting, editing, and publishing in print connected to those similar composition processes with DV.

Furthermore, teachers who completed multiple projects felt more comfortable with the technology and demonstrated more sophisticated usage than the single user groups.
However, the kinds of problems reported differed in kind depending on whether or not they completed single versus multiple projects.
Single project teachers reported problems such as being unfamiliar with the equipment or needing more practice to understand technical procedures, suggesting a lower stage of technology adoption such as entry, awareness, and/or learning the process.
In contrast, the multiple project teachers reported different frustrations: wanting greater sophistication with the programs and equipment and wanting to better understand the technology to have more control over the compositions.

In this study, collaboration proved both beneficial and problematic.
Teachers reported that the best aspects of group work were the multiple perspectives and interpretations of the topic, collaboration in problem solving, and the learning they acquired from each other.
Conversely, difficulties in collaborative work involved inequality among group members, tensions within the group, scheduling issues, and difficulty balancing individual and group goals.
The single project groups had significantly higher levels of frustration with group dynamics than multiple project groups.
In contrast, multiple project groups knew they could switch members after their first project, so group dynamics appeared to become secondary to focusing on completing their project.
The findings from this study suggest that though working in groups has tremendous benefits, remedial attention to difficulties with group interactions may need to be addressed.


The authors offer specific suggestions for integrating DV into teacher education and professional development.
First, when learning DV, teachers need to have practical experience with the technology.
The projects should be grounded in the teachers’ content areas and be designed to allow sufficient time to explore the various affordances of DV.
Another aspect is providing support for the technical process as teachers learn to navigate an unfamiliar technology.
Finally, those who work with teacher education and professional development should design their instruction to allow teachers to have sustained practical experience with DV, attending to both creative expression and technical skills.

Second, teachers should be provided opportunities to reflect on their technology learning.
The findings in this study suggest several ways.
Those involved in teacher education and professional development can ask questions addressing the teachers’ own learning, such as their best and most frustrating instances working with the technology, and their experiences with group work.
Another way is to provide written prompts asking teachers to identify explicit connections they made between their content area and the technology.
Finally, prompting specific connections to student learning can allow teachers to consider using DV as a means to integrate technology into meaningful, contentbased ways with their students.

Third, researchers indicated the need to consider different methodological considerations in studying how teachers reflected on learning a new technology.
This study represents the use of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, which allowed us to perform more nuanced analysis of the data not possible with a single method.

Updated: Jan. 10, 2016