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Teachers are increasingly expected to integrate technology in their teaching practice – and to do so in innovative ways. This leaves teacher training institutions with the responsibility of preparing future teachers for this. However, despite the various approaches that are currently being explored and implemented by teacher training institutes around the world, research findings still suggest that beginning teachers typically make little or no use of technology in their instructional practice (e.g., Russell et al., 2003; Gao, Wong, Choy & Wu, 2011). There is a growing body of research that attempts to understand and explain this limited use by identifying the factors that support and/or hinder technology integration by beginning teachers (Bullock, 2004; Slaoui & Barton, 2007; Dawson, 2008; Starkey, 2010). Besides factors like, for example, access to technology (Dexter & Riedel, 2003) and teachers’ attitudes towards technology (Bate & Maor, 2008), one major factor that has been identified concerns the amount and adequacy of beginning teachers’ pre-service training (Drent & Meelissen, 2008), and more specifically the opportunities it provides them to gain experience with the use of technologies to enhance student learning in a particular subject domain (Dawson, 2008; Starkey, 2010).
Recent studies have tried to understand whether or not beginning teachers feel prepared to integrate technology in their teaching practices (e.g. Slaouti & Barton, 2007; Dawson, 2008). However, less attention has been given to the purposes and the quality of beginning teachers’ use of technology (Dexter & Riedel, 2003), and to how these relate to their prior learning experiences. The ultimate goal of the current study is to address this lacuna by analysing the connections between Flemish beginning teachers’ pre-service learning experiences (both formal and informal) and the ways in which they use technology to support instruction during their early career. Specific research questions guiding the current study are: (1) What (formal and informal) pre-service learning experiences are regarded by beginning teachers as meaningful for supporting the integration of technology in their instructional practice?, and (2) in what ways are beginning teachers using technology, and how is this shaped by their prior (formal and informal) learning experiences?
As mentioned above, pre-service training is only one of many factors involved in the uptake of technology by beginning teachers. Moreover, from literature it is known that various factors interact with each other (Slaouti & Barton, 2007). Therefore, besides identifying the specific connections between pre-service learning experiences and technology integration, we believe that we should not close our eyes for such other factors – and especially for how they affect the connections under study here. Hence, a third research question concerns: (3) What (other) factors influence the ways in which beginning teachers inte
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