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What Factors Influence the Acceptance of the Internet as a Teaching Tool?
Claudia Beatriz Monte Jorge Martins

Procedures

Data collection took place from October 2001 to December 2001. One questionnaire was mailed to each pedagogical manager. A letter of transmittal was sent with the material, introducing the researcher and explaining the content of the research, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope.

The results of the statistical analysis and the findings

A total of 79 questionnaires were answered, representing a response rate of 92%. After the initial analysis the result was a number of 75 pedagogical managers representing 92 schools. This happened because, as explained before, some schools have more than one pedagogical manager and in other cases one pedagogical manager is responsible for more than one school. The number used for the statistical analysis was 92: the number of schools under the responsibility of the 75 pedagogical managers. The ones who were responsible for two or more schools had their answers repeated as many times as the number of schools they represented.

Characteristics of the pedagogical managers

The 92 schools analyzed are represented by 64 (69,57%) female pedagogical managers and 28 (30,43%) males. As to the age, 43 (46,74%) pedagogical managers are between 31-40 years old and 29 (31,48%) are older than 40 years. As to the educational background, most of the respondents (59,78%) have a university degree and 33,69% are specialists or have a master’s degree.

It was also investigated if the pedagogical managers were actively teaching. 79 (85,87%) of the respondents answered affirmatively. Most of the respondents have, therefore, the practical perspective of the classroom, besides their position as pedagogical managers.

In analyzing the answers about who is responsible for the pedagogical decisions at the schools, the following facts were obtained: in 16,30% of the schools only the director is responsible for the pedagogical decisions and in also 16,30% of the schools the directors and the pedagogical coordinators work together. In 8,70% of the schools only the owner is responsible for the pedagogical decisions. Besides, it can also be inferred that in 37 schools (40,22%) there is only one position holding the pedagogical responsibility. In other 35 schools (38,03%) two positions hold the pedagogical responsibility. In 13 schools (14,14%) three positions share the pedagogical work. In 4 schools (4,34%) four positions share the pedagogical area and in 1 school (1,09%) five positions make the pedagogical decisions. In summary, in 78,25% of the schools the pedagogical decisions are made by just a small number of people. It proves the importance of the pedagogical manager at the language schools of Curitiba. Only in 1 school (1,09%) the teachers were the only ones in charge of the pedagogical area. And in 19 schools (20,65%) they have some participation in the pedagogical decisions. In relation to how long they have performed the function of pedagogical coordinators, most of them (64,13%) have been in the present position for less than eight years. The remainder have been in the present position for more than eight years.

The dynamics of language schools and the adoption of the Internet

It was explicitly asked if the school used the Internet as a teaching tool. The results show that 51 schools (55,43%) use the Internet with this objective while 41 (44,57%) do not use it. The percentage of schools that have an institutional home page is of 70,65%.

One of the questions investigated the amount of training the participants received on the use of the Internet as a teaching tool. Results indicate that 40 participants (43,48%) did not receive any training; 29 participants (31,52%) had between 1-6 hours of training, while 8 participants (8,69%) had between 7-12 hours of training. Only 12 participants (13,04%) had 16 or more hours of training. Data suggest that all of those who received more than 6 hours of training on the use of the Internet as a teaching tool, effectively use it for this purpose.

In a complementary way, among the ones who do not adopt the Internet, are the majority who did not receive any training on the subject or that received up to 6 hours of training. Based on these results, it can be inferred that the amount of training on the innovation is a factor to be considered in the decision about its adoption in the population researched.

Besides the amount of training received, the time that the Internet had been available as a teaching tool was also investigated. Most of the respondents, 55 (59,78%), have had the Internet available as a teaching tool at the school for more than 9 months.

Of the 55 respondents who have the Internet available as a teaching tool for more than 9 months, 16 (29,09%) do not adopt the Internet and 39 of them (70,91%) adopt it. Twelve respondents (13,05%) have the Internet available for less than 9 months and 2 respondents did not answer this question. Data suggest that the availability of use of the Internet, at the schools researched, is related to its adoption.

One question verified if the respondents perceived any kind of pressure from teachers for the Internet to be used as a teaching tool. Sixty-five of the respondents answered negatively (70,65%), 26 (28,26%) answered affirmatively and 1 respondent (1,09%) did not answer.

By crossing these data with the effective use of the Internet as a teaching tool, it is verified that in the 65 schools where the respondents do not perceive pressure from teachers 31 (47,69%) do not adopt the Internet and 34 (52,31%) adopt it. The difference, as expected, is small and not significant, once there is no pressure.

In the 26 schools in which the respondents perceived pressure from teachers this seems to have some influence. In 9 (34,62%) of these schools the Internet is not adopted, but 17 (65,38%) of them adopt it as a teaching tool. Data suggest that teachers’ pressure can influence adoption rate, indicating a ratio between these two variables.

It was also verified if the respondents perceived any type of pressure from students for the Internet to be used with educational aims. Sixty-nine of the respondents did not perceive any pressure from the students’ part in their schools (75,00%).

In the 69 schools in which there is no pressure from the students, 30 (43,48%) of these schools did not adopt the Internet while 39 (56,52%) adopted it. The result suggests that, as expected, when there is no pressure adoption rate does not suffer much influence. The numbers are also very similar to the ones obtained with the teachers. The adoption of the Internet as a teaching tool, in this context, is probably related to other factors.

The variable size of the school was included in the present study to determine which effects, if any, it would have on the decision to use the Internet or not. It was assumed that bigger schools would have more resources for their teachers and students. Most of the schools, i.e. 58 (63,04%), have between 0 and 250 students, that is, they are relatively small schools. By cross-referencing size with adoption, the result shows that in 60% of the schools with more than 500 students adoption occurs and in 50% of the schools with 0-250 students the Internet is also adopted. In the schools with 251-500 students the adoption of the Internet occurs in 78,57%. It can be inferred, therefore, that the size of the school is not a determinant factor for the adoption of the Internet as a teaching tool.

The variable school existence time has also been included in the present study to determine which effects, if any, it would have on the decision to use or not the Internet. By cross-referencing school existence time with adoption, the result shows that in 48,78% of the schools with less than 5 years adoption occurs, while in 60% of the schools with more than 16 years of functioning the Internet is also adopted. In the schools with 6-15 years of existence the adoption of the Internet occurs in 62,96% of them.

Perceived attributes of the Internet

By the time the 8th Braz-Tesol National Convention 2002 was held, data concerning the five attributes of the Internet were still under statistical analysis due to some problems that delayed the final results.

CONCLUSION

The objective of this study was to identify the factors that support or impede the use of the Internet as a teaching tool in language schools in Curitiba, from the perspective of the ones responsible for the pedagogical decisions at these schools.

It was verified that a little more than half (55,43%) of the schools researched use the Internet as a teaching tool. The percentage suggests that, in the average, language schools are slowly shifting from the position of mere observers of Internet applications with cautious interest to effective adopters of such resource. Nowadays the scenery is more characterized by schools going from “getting on” to “getting into” the Internet as a teaching tool. The gap between the 70,65% of the schools that have a home page and the 55,43% that use the Internet as a teaching tool exemplifies this process.

Further conclusions will be drawn when results concerning the five attributes of the Internet are analyzed.

REFERENCES

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