Date of Award

1-1-1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Paul Newhouse

Abstract

The fundamental question that this study set out to investigate was: Can the advantages of hypermedia be extended to curriculum materials that are for the sole use of teachers? To consider this question, three areas needed to be investigated: hypermedia (the medium); teachers (the target) and curriculum documents (the content). Hypermedia has a long history dating back to Bush (1986) who in 1945 imagined his Memex system as building information trails between ideas. However, it was not until the mid 1980s that technology caught up with the theory and hypermedia came of age. The evaluation of hypermedia documents is still in its infancy and design standards are still being formlulated. Social acceptability and usability will be of major concern in the evaluation process of hypermedia. Therefore this study needed to investigate whether this medium of presentation is socially acceptable to teachers? Advances in Information Technology (IT), both in hardware and software in the last few years have brought the potential of hypermedia to the personal computer (PC). Information, be it text, sound, graphics or video, or a mixture of these, can now be presented on the same screen and the movement between screens can be seamless. The movement between screens is no longer limited to sequential movement as it is when the information is presented in a hard copy form, but can be randomly accessed. This access allows the user to move about the information as they would move about within their own minds, that is, by association. Already commercial hypermedia products are being produced for the education and "leisure" markets. Teachers' work loads are increasing, as they take on more curriculum responsibilities, while at the same time, information is expanding at a rapid rate. The challenge today is to encourage teachers to use new information technology to overcome these problems. However, since their inception into schools fifteen years ago, computers have not delivered the results that had been expected of them. Can the access to hypermedia curriculum documents help teachers to lessen their work load and encourage them to use IT? Firstly, it is important to consider whether curriculum materials for teacher use are suitable for hypermedia presentation. The literature indicated that textual materials that are not meant to be read sequentially like a novel, arc suitable to be presented in hypermedia form. At present, curriculum materials for teachers contain the content in hard copy form but the presentation is lacking in quality. This hard copy material is expensive, hard to correct and slow to update. Hypermedia offers the potential to overcome these limitations and to provide easy access to much more information. This new medium could allow teachers for the first ti.me to truly integrate their teaching programme by enabling them to access multiple curriculum documents. The methodology used in this study was based on two types of descriptive research, survey and correlation methods. The target population for this study was all K-7 teachers using the Western Australia Mathematics syllabus within Western Australia. The instrument was a mailed survey questionnaire that consisted of five parts. The first part consisted of collecting personal data such as age and gender. The second part was the Computer Attitude Scale (CAS), designed by Loyd and Gressard (1984), and was used to measure attitudes towards learning and using computers. The third part consisted of questions that asked teachers for their views and impressions on the social acceptability and utility of the present hard copy. The fourth part consisted of questions on computer experience and use, both in and outside the classroom. The final part consisted questions on the likely acceptance and usefulness of a hypermedia copy of the syllabus. This study found that the likely medium-based anxiety for this type of application is low for the teachers sampled, with 70 percent indicating that they were likely to accept this type of application. The findings indicated that the acceptance rate increased as the teachers' positive attitude towards computers increased. Teachers that rated themselves competent at using a computer were also more likely to accept this type of application. Time spent using a computer at school showed that teachers who frequently use them at least several times a week were more likely to accept this type of application. The study also found that the majority of teachers sampled considered the ability to link the syllabus to other teaching material was very useful. Many of the problems identified by the teachers sampled concerning the usability of the present hard copy could be overcome using a hypermedia version.

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