The Use of Computers by Greek Educators. Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Change Anything?
The goal of the study was to investigate whether the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the educational process also affected the views, attitudes, and intentions of educators regarding the use of computers and their applications both for professional and personal purposes.
A model was developed and tested that included the factors present in the Technology Acceptance Model, together with self-efficacy, and the participant’s gender, age group, level of studies, and ICT training. The educators’ views were recorded twice: (i) before the lockdowns and (ii) after the lockdowns. The two resulting models were compared, so as to come to conclusions regarding possible changes. A model was developed and tested that included the factors present in the Technology Acceptance Model, together with self-efficacy, and the participant’s gender, age group, level of studies, and ICT training. The educators’ views were recorded twice: (i) before the lockdowns and (ii) after the lockdowns. The two resulting models were compared, so as to come to conclusions regarding possible changes.
The target group was Greek educators (i.e., individuals teaching in primary and secondary education). The study was conducted in two stages: (i) at the beginning of the first general lockdown (March 2020), and (ii) at the beginning of the 2021 school year (September 2021), when schools re-opened and resumed their normal operations. The final sample was 1,099 educators. A questionnaire was used having three sections: (i) four demographic questions, (ii) twenty-five items for recording the educators’ views, attitudes, and intentions, and (iii) two questions for recording how many hours per -typical day they use computers for professional and personal purposes.
The study contributes to the deeper understanding of educators’ views, attitudes, intentions, and actual use of computers and how and to what extent these changed after the period of the multiple lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study’s major findings were:
• The lockdowns did not significantly affect the educators’ views, attitudes, and intention to use computers, but resulted in a more extensive use of computers for work than before.
• The results oppose the basic assumption of TAM that the behavioral intention to use a technological tool translates into the actual use of this tool.
• The perceived usefulness of computers shaped the educators’ behavioral intention to use them.
• Computer self-efficacy shaped the attitude of educators toward computers.
• After the pandemic, the educators’ age and gender no longer play a role in shaping their views.
• The additional ICT training the educators received did not have an effect on any factor.
Governments have to equip schools with computers and provide the framework that fosters their use. Strategies and support mechanisms that make educators more confident in the use of ICTs and also provide evidence for their usefulness should be implemented. The above will allow the educators’ behavioral intention to use ICTs to be translated into actual use. Administrators in higher education should consider the inclusion of more ICT-related courses in their undergraduate and postgraduate programs addressed to educators. Changes have to be made to the context and content of the in-service ICT training programs.
The inclusion of self-efficacy is recommended in future studies involving TAM. As deviations from the original TAM were noted, possible swifts in how educators’ views and intentions are shaped need to be further investigated.
The increased use of computers by educators might lead to a more intense use of ICTs in schools, resulting in an education better aligned with the needs of the digitalized society.
Comparative studies, targeting educators from other countries, will help to understand how the pandemic affected the educational systems worldwide. Studies are needed for verifying the model’s validity and applicability. Researchers can consider the inclusion of other factors that might have a significant effect. Qualitative data may offer an in-depth understanding of educators’ beliefs. Finally, longitudinal studies can help to understand whether the pandemic had a lasting effect on educators’ intention to use computers.