Transformative Technology Infused Curriculum: The Foundation Program as a Case Study

Transformative Technology
Transformative Technology


The infusion of technology into the curriculum and teaching pedagogy in recent years is believed to be paramount to students’ motivation, engagement, and overall academic success. Despite many institutional efforts and initiatives to capture and encourage their faculty and curriculum designers to embrace the use of technology in their classroom, we observed some changes that need to be addressed to guarantee successful implementation.

Our hypothesis is that academic institutions need a clear roadmap in which all participants are involved at every level to guarantee a higher level of success and engagement. The aim of this paper is to capture and share the successes and challenges faced by the English Foundation Program at the Petroleum Institute during their transition towards a full technology adoption. Qualitative focus group interviews were used with six of the faculty who actively participated in different capacities during this transition. In addition, the paper offers a self-reflection component to facilitate the journey of practitioners who might be undertaking a similar initiative.


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Literature Review

3. Background

4. Methodology and Data Collection

5. Results & Discussion

5.1 Interviews

6. Self-Reflection and Conclusion


1. Introduction

The infusion of technology has changed the dynamic of classroom management and the students’ overall engagement and inclusion in the educational process. Despite that, we find different academic institutions are standing at a different point and have different views when it comes to the extent of this infusion.

This might be attributed to the multiple challenges that institutions, students and faculty face while implementing these changes.

In this paper, we will focus on the experience of the foundation Program-Petroleum Institute as a case study after the initiation of the Project X. [3]

The aim of this paper is to target practitioners who are facing a similar scenario and attempt to facilitate their journey towards a fruitful infusion of technology in the classroom. Our hypothesis is that academic institutions need a clear roadmap in which all participants are involved at every level to guarantee a higher level of success and engagement.


2. Literature Review

The growing need for providing quality and individualized educational experiences and lifelong learning for all people [9] along with the recent educational technology advancement made the shift towards the infusion of technology investable. Having said that teachers are still trying to catch up and often to learn with their students” [6] when it comes to technology.

For those who find themselves at this pace, it became apparent that there are 3 main elements that contribute to the success of such a goal.

The first starts with the faculty; the amount of supports/he is receiving which includes time and workload on the one hand and receiving sufficient training and support on the other.

According to Zhang 2017, In the implementation of a new teaching method, teachers complain” [10] Its a time-consuming multi-layered process; Teachers need to master the basic knowledge of the computer, and know how to make a micro-lesson teaching videosecondly, teachers should always update the  teaching concept, as  far  as  possible to  adapt the  teaching materials to attract students’ attention during the teaching process.” [10]

According to the literature, teacher is not prepared to use technology while teaching and consequently they are left at a disadvantage and with negative or non-existent perceptions of their efficacy in using educational technology. [4]

The second element is the curriculum and curriculum building, which is steered towards modern learning and teaching approaches and transforming in such a way that would help develop positive traits and attitudes” [1] among the students and allow them to have a real-time, hands-on experience.

The use of Flipped classroom, student-cantered learning environment that accommodates studentsinterest and preferences proved to increase studentsengagement, task engagement and self-reliance [8 & 3] because it allowed educators to speak “the language of todays students” [5].

While on the other side of the spectrum, researchers conclude that due to the rigid curriculum in certain high stakes context, not all teachers have the freedom to devise such stimulating activities, and may further be limited by time and expertise.” [8]

The third aspect is the support of the management in providing a suitable physical organization of classroom environment equipped with technology, arrangements should be done by considering physical variables of classroom management. [9] The administration should also be open-minded about the proposed changes or policies that would facilitate this transition and for creativity. [6]


3. Background

In response to the strategic plan, the IT department at the Petroleum Institute launched PROJECT - X in 2015. The scope of the project covered things like hardware, software, Classrooms equipped and assigned for active learning purposes (ALP classrooms). [3]

The project was piloted and then in the fall semester several units adopted or started to prepare for the adoption of this project, one of those units is the foundation Program.

In that semester a tasks force was created to work on the planning and curriculum improvement before the semester along with a practitioner community to support another faculty.


4. Methodology and Data Collection

This paper is based on 8 individual interviews conducted with those who lead or contributed to this initiative within the Academic Bridge Program (including the Head of the Department, the Chair of the curriculum committee, a course coordinator and the Project leader). The interviewees were asked 17 closed-ended questions which were divided into 5 sections:

1. General questions to ask about their teaching experience, the use of technology in the classroom.

2. Self-reflections which included questions their roles, their attitude towards the initiative? The specific use of technology in reference to the SAMR Model (substitution, Augmentation, modification, and redefinition), the challenges they faced during the implementation of thiproject?

3. The impact on the students’ performance and motivation.

4. Leadership and institutional roles: The support they received to launch and sustain this intuitive (i.e. reduced teaching load, Workshops, grants… etc.)

5. Finally, Future recommendations.

The research method will also include a testimony or a self-reflection provided by the author who was leading the foundation program and led this initiative at that time.


5. Results & Discussion

5.1 Interviews

All participants had between 3-5 years of experience teaching at the Petroleum Institute. Four of them described themselves as heavy users of technology, three medium users, and one light user.

They all agreed that the use of educational technology is essential and it gives teachers a whole new set of opportunities to create a dynamic learning environment” and addresses the workforcneeds. However, three of them do not use technology in their classrooms due to time limitations and the density of the curriculum.

In reference to the SAMR Model, those who used educational technology (6 interviewees) were

more focused on the first three levels of substitution, Augmentation, modification and they found the redefining level is challenging. While one faculty only mentioned that at times she covered all levels.

They used applications like the Google Suite, Kahoot, Quizlet, Socrates and other collaborative tools in order to encourage students to create their e-portfolio, think critically and engage students during and out of their class time.

The diverse roles that the interviewees had resulted in having contradictory perceptions about the success or failure of foundationsversion of project X.

While some stated that it was led beautifullyand the coordinator gave (us) the teachers all the support that we needed”, others felt that the attention at the time was on pushing the students to buy specific laptops and the resistance they found from the students.

Others described his overall experience as Frustrating”. This includes the head of the department who believed that while he had the support of the director, the middle management, both faculty and students did not buy-in. He described the project as a failure’ and attributed to the fact that the institution specified the computer model, lack of IT support and lack of policies.

He also pointed out that the facultys level of enthusiasm led or determined the success or failure of this project and the department had a small group of enthusiastic early users. Both the head and few other interviewees pointed out that the departmental and institutional change management put this project on hold.

Some other challenges were mentioned by the interviewees such as the extent of the Wi-Fi coverage within the campus, students not bringing or even buying their computers. The fact that students had to buy the laptop before receiving the stipend from their scholarship providers.

Another faculty spoke the amount of intimidation he faced and getting off the mental notion that he is the master and he should know it all, while it should be perceived as another platform and he should learn about it with his students.

On the other hand, two interviewees acknowledged the opportunities that came along with the launch of the project: the time release, the departmental and institutional pedagogical training sessions, the conferences they attended and the 2 mini-grant they received. 6 of them mentioned the support they received from the departmental community of practitioners and how it led to having experts within the department to support both the infusion of technology into the curriculum and the faculty.


6. Self-Reflection and Conclusion

As I reflect on my role as the director, I believe that the infusion of technology in the curriculum requires an excellent planning, enthusiastic faculty, clear policies that would guarantee the implementation of such a vision and transform it into a reality. There were a number of challenges faced during the implementation of this project:

1. the high level of enthusiasm from those who volunteered to take part in this project, versus the pushback culture that built up among some of the faculty who were not open to change which as a result might have affected the students’ attitude towards technology in the classroom.

2. The lack of clear policies from the institution which made people question the urgency and the value added of this project.

3. Despite having a strong departmental support (taskforce, release time, mini-grants, workshops, conferences) some of the faculty could not surpass their own vulnerability barriers [7] towards technology.

4. The fact that this project was initiated and owned by IT [3] and the conflict that arose from the different style of management (for example: operating in a fiscal year versus academic year) created a mismatch in terms of expectations and deadlines.


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