Teaching with Cloud Computing in Schools
: an affordance analysis of Hong Kong teacher perceptions

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)

Abstract

Cloud computing distinguishes itself from traditional computing models by providing infrastructure, platform, and software services from the provider’s data centre to fulfil consumer needs across the Internet. Given the established government policy in Hong Kong to extend the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education, this research explored how and evaluated whether cloud computing supported teaching according to the teachers’ perceptions in primary and secondary schools of Hong Kong.
This research was guided by a theoretical framework that drew on Norman’s notion of perceived affordances, socio-cultural theory by Vygotsky and mediation theory by Wertsch, recognising that learning should be understood in the socio-cultural context in which students interact with each other, with the teacher and with the technology. The socio-cultural context was conceptualised by viewing the classroom as a pedagogic assemblage including pentadic elements suggested by Burke. The sociocultural theory helped to reflect on the classroom phenomena, e.g. ‘Why teachers do or do not perceive affordance in different socio-cultural contexts?’.
This research adopted the pragmatic paradigm. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews with fifteen participants who used Google applications in their daily teaching duty in primary and secondary schools of Hong Kong. The research collected data only on the teachers’ use of Google applications. The quantitative data allowed for a comparison of how teachers rated different affordances, while the qualitative data described the values and approaches of each teacher and how the teacher used the Google applications.
The findings suggested that affordance could best be studied within a specific socio-cultural context, particularly that of the human agents (the teachers and students) who used technological tools that mediated learning. A comparison of teachers of different subjects and levels revealed how technological features that promoted learning in one context might hinder learning in the other contexts. It further showed that the use of cloud computing was in the beginning stages when the data were collected for this research in May–June 2017. This was attributed to different constraints, conceptualised as negative affordances, e.g. WiFi dependency, training required before use, and some teachers’ belief that they were not useful, based on their experiences.
The data analysis led to the development of a coding scheme of affordances from the qualitative data on how cloud computing supported teaching. An attempt was made to create an evaluation checklist from the teachers’ experience of affordances, as a tool that can be used in schools, e.g. by teachers and IT professionals trying to evaluate or design an ICT tool for teaching in a specific classroom.
Date of Award21 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorNeil R Ingram (Supervisor) & Leon P Tikly (Supervisor)

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