The effects of a state-supported Internet courseware for educators on Internet knowledge and Internet concerns of rural educators

Elizabeth Lynn Rhinehart Herring

Abstract

The Internet is becoming a part of almost everyone's daily lives. Everyday more and more schools are being connected to this information superhighway. Through this technology, the isolation that many rural schools felt is being broken by bringing the world into the classroom. Because of the fast growth rate of technology, schools are offering professional development workshops on the use of computer software, and the Internet. With the aging teacher population, these workshops can be difficult to conduct because of fear of the computer, lack of technical knowledge and concern about enough time in the school day. For these reasons, this study sought clarification of the following problems: (1) Is there a relationship between the outcome variables of Internet knowledge and Internet concerns of elementary school teachers and participation in a 12-hour Internet In-service Workshop supported by the Mississippi Department of Education; and (2) Does this relationship differ on a set of teacher variables--age, teaching experience, computer experience, ownership of computer, fear concerns about using the Internet for learning, access concerns about using the Internet for learning, time concerns about using the Internet for learning, and efficacy concerns about using the Internet for learning? This study included 80 elementary teachers from a small rural school district who elected to participate in a 12-hour Internet In-service Workshop. This study utilized quantitative elements with descriptive, dependent t test and correlational research designs. The study revealed that the training was very effective in raising the Internet knowledge levels of the participants. In this study, the total Internet concerns consisted of time, fear, self-efficacy, and access concerns. The data revealed that while time, fear, and self-efficacy concerns lessened, contrarily, the access concerns were not reduced. The workshop produced significant differences between the pre-treatment and post-treatment results for the stages of Awareness, Personal, Consequence, Collaboration, and Refocusing.