Examining technology fluency: A window into and a reflection of evolving instructor schemas and practices

Donna DeGennaro, University of Pennsylvania


Technology proficiency is essential to successful participation in today's society. Few would disagree with this statement. In response to this declaration and coupled with increased concern that youth are technologically unprepared, various technology-focused interventions have arisen. The ultimate goal of these interventions is to create opportunities to engender technology fluency. Researchers currently define technology fluency as learning discrete “skills” and/or having the ability to use computers to create some tangible product. Ensuring participation in a “digital community” accompanies the latter definition. Yet, technology fluency involves something more. Given that technology fosters dynamic, evolving participation in various diversely populated communities, technology fluency also necessitates knowledge of becoming an active contributor to practices in these communities. This dissertation is a qualitative case study of a self-initiated technology-inspired intervention. Specifically, the intervention merges privileged students from a private suburban high school (instructors) with inner-city youth from an impoverished neighborhood (learners) to participate in a web-design course. The question for this research asks how do technology-experienced instructors bridge local understandings of technology learning to successfully engage technology-novice learners? Using a theoretical framework from cultural sociology, this study draws attention to the transformation of instructor schemas and practices as instructors interact with learners throughout the course. The methodology uses design research to examine observation, video, fieldnote and email data. Design research assists in making visible component parts of the environment so that designers can proactively respond to changes that occur during implementation. The intention is not only to illuminate the “what and how” of change, but also offer explanations as to why. This dissertation makes three arguments. First, the relationship between instructor schemas and practices contribute to the structure of the classroom. Next, the ensuing learning environment structure gives way to particular teacher-learner and learner-learner interactions. Finally, the microanalysis of instructor-learner interactions suggests different kinds of individual instructor change. As a result, this research proposes design principles that assist in providing participants with experience in becoming active contributors to practice in technology fluency learning environments. Study of changing schemas and practices during designed program activities bring to light the relationship between theory and practice.

Subject Area

Educational software

Recommended Citation

DeGennaro, Donna, "Examining technology fluency: A window into and a reflection of evolving instructor schemas and practices" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3125806.