Journal Article

Perceived Benefits and Barriers to the Use of High-speed Broadband in Ireland's Second-level Schools

January 13, 2016

Irish Educational Studies, Vol. 34, No. 4, 2015, pp. 355-378

As part of Ireland's National Digital Strategy, high-speed broadband is being rolled out to all second-level schools to support greater use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education. This programme signals a move from slow and unreliable broadband connections for many schools to a guaranteed high-speed connection with technical support. Theoretically, this should allow for behaviours and pedagogies to adapt, incorporating ICT into education. Research shows that integrating ICT into teaching and learning is a gradual process for most teachers and is influenced by a complex mix of socio-technical factors. Our data set consists of survey data from teachers and principals from a sample of second-level schools. The survey collected factual and attitudinal variables including attitudes towards ICT integration, current availability of infrastructure and barriers to ICT use, before schools received high-speed broadband connectivity. We examine the factors influencing teachers’ attitudes to ICT and their perceived barriers in adopting new technologies in their day-to-day teaching. Analysis of this baseline period is essential in an iterative digital strategy, informing future strategies, targeting policy most effectively and achieving policy objectives. While attitudes towards the potential of high-speed broadband and use of ICT are consistently positive across sub groups of schools and teachers, perceived barriers to ICT usage differ.