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Problematising technology and teaching reforms: Australian and Singapore perspectives

Katherine Frances McLay (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Education, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Vicente Chua Reyes Jr (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Education, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

International Journal of Comparative Education and Development

ISSN: 2396-7404

Article publication date: 8 November 2019

Issue publication date: 12 November 2019

332

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare and problematise technology and teaching reform initiatives in Australia and Singapore, demonstrating the importance of adopting a critical stance towards technology-rich education reform. In the Australian context, the tensions and challenges of the Digital Education Revolution and the Teaching Teachers for the Future programme are illustrated. In the Singapore context, the implications of the ways in which teachers exercise their agency over technological imperatives are examined.

Design/methodology/approach

The first section of the paper draws on interview and observational data generated during a microethnographic investigation into secondary school students’ use of iPads as a learning tool in an independent school in South-East Queensland. Data “snapshots” illustrate the lingering challenges of reform designed to achieve technology-rich learning environments. The second section of the paper draws on a retrospective study of current ICT initiatives in Singapore through case studies of two schools that are heavily involved in ongoing ICT integration programmes.

Findings

While reforms are usually borne out of careful studies among policy makers and politicians to develop solutions to problems, the final version often reflects compromise between various stakeholders championing their respective agendas. As such, problematisation is imperative to develop critical and nuanced understandings. In both Australia and Singapore, it is suggested that failing to account for such ontological matters as teacher and learner identity and agency prevents meaningful change.

Originality/value

Global reform to achieve technology-rich teaching and learning environments reflects the ubiquity of such initiatives across geographical and cultural boundaries. Such reforms have been driven and supported by a substantial body of research, much of which has uncritically accepted the view that technology-rich reform is inherently “good” or necessary. Learning technology research has thus tended to focus on epistemological matters such as learning design at the expense of ontology. This paper engages with emerging research into technology as an identity issue for learners and teachers to explore the implications of technology-driven education reform on educational institutions, policies and practices.

Keywords

Citation

McLay, K.F. and Chua Reyes Jr, V. (2019), "Problematising technology and teaching reforms: Australian and Singapore perspectives", International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 277-294. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCED-10-2018-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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