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In response to national technology mandates, schools across the United States have committed themselves to laptop technology programs as a way to encourage student-centered learning and critical thinking in collaborative classrooms (Getting America’s Students Ready Report, 1996). This study reports on a great deal of teacher ambivalence about technology in English instruction, in the context of a school-wide laptop technology initiative. Four larger clusters of conflict contributed to this ambivalence: a) conflicts around institutional control in implementation of the laptop program and teacher agency, b) conflicts around political pressures for standardized testing and technology mandates, c) conflicts around technology uses in the curriculum and technology allocation in specific class types, and d) conflicts around professional identity and the challenges that both student and teacher technology use brought to these identities. The study concludes that these teachers needed to be given greater agency in planning and implementing the laptop technology initiative, and in revising their curriculum to embrace this new technology, as well as the necessary professional development to prepare them for such an educational innovation.


Pre-print version of an article that was published in:

McGrail. E. (2006). “It’s a double-edged sword, this technology business”: Secondary English teachers’perspectives on a schoolwide laptop technology initiative. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1055-1079.