An investigation of Saudi Arabian EFL teachers’ engagement with technology

2017-02-28T04:02:59Z (GMT) by Alahmari, Abdullah Salem
Technology has become a central component of many progressive and developmental trends in education. Accordingly, the task of increasing the effectiveness of the learning processes can be performed precisely through the help of various technological methods. Modern education cannot be safely separated from technology without losing some possible advantages. For this reason, there is a strong need to research and estimate the perception of technology use within educational processes and how technology can support learning. As an outcome of recent educational reforms in Saudi Arabia, technology has become imperative element to support learning. It was previously thought in Saudi Arabia that technology was not crucial to learning; however, modern education that does not make use of digital technology is at a decided disadvantage. Moreover, engagement with technology is now an important factor in the teaching and learning process. This research investigated English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers’ use of technology to support learning, willingness to use technology to support learning and their perceptions of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and its usefulness in their teaching. After a small pilot study helped shape the methodology to be used, a mixed method approach was adopted using a larger pool of participants. This methodology combined elements of quantitative and qualitative research approaches such as online survey and interviews. Explanatory sequential design, based on quantitative and qualitative data, conducted to find out teachers perceptions, factors and relationships related to technology implementation. Despite willingness to use technology tools that promote the learning process, the actual level of technology use in the classroom can be quite varied. The participating EFL teachers, who generally lacked sufficient skills and experience in technology, had a reduced use of technology in learning processes. However, EFL teachers working in technical colleges in Saudi Arabia were willing to use technology to support learning, as they were more proficiently skilled. They demonstrated extensive willingness to implement technology in the EFL classroom. This study found that EFL teachers’ use of technology is positively associated with their perceptions of willingness to use that technology and with the perceptions of TPACK they employ as a way of understanding its pedagogical use. The study also found that the technology supported effective strategies for learning EFL. Despite the validation that the TPACK framework was not supported by factor analysis, the perception of TPACK of EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia was enough to develop a relevant understanding of the fundamental role of technology in the teaching process. Moreover, EFL teachers with extensive experience in practising English language in a Western society had a significantly higher perception of TPACK than teachers lacking such experience. There was an inconsistent relationship between EFL teachers’ TPK, TCK and PCK and their perception of TPACK framework. However, EFL teachers usually considered their perception of TPACK sufficient to conduct different teaching experiments in the EFL classroom.