CEC Theses and Dissertations


Developing a Wider View of Educational Technology Through Ubiquitous Computing: A Qualitative Case Study

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Gerorge K. Fornshell

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman


Ubiquitous computing in elementary schools is in its early phases of development. However, many signs point to the likelihood that some form of one-to-one personal computing in schools is inevitable in the near future. The research pertaining to this model of computing technology is relatively scarce, leaving schools with a knowledge void when attempting to make decisions pertaining to this paradigm. The investigation sought to help alleviate this gap in the knowledge base by providing a qualitative case study that examined an elementary school's wireless laptop program over an extended period of one and one-half years. It gathered and described basic information about this model of technology in education and helped form a database for future comparison and/or theory building related to ubiquitous computing. Additionally, the relationship between identifying/removing barriers to technology use and developing a wider view of educational computing among members of the school community was examined.

The theoretical purpose of the investigation explored how participants in the program developed a wider view of educational computing, which was defined as the processes by which individuals come to understand how technology can enhance the school environment. The more basic purposes were threefold: to describe richly what occurred as this school made the transition to Ubiquitous computing, to interpret inductively the findings into a series of lessons learned from the experience, and to apply practically the findings to the future direction of the program. The qualitative inquiry into this laptop program employed an embedded single-case study design to achieve the stated purposes and made use of a variety of data-gathering strategies (interviews, observations, and document analysis), consistent with the investigator's goals.

By advancing our understanding of the processes by which people come to use ubiquitous computing to empower teaching and learning, this research made a substantial contribution to knowledge and practice. Its timing relative to this paradigm's entry into schools gives it the potential to have a disproportionately significant impact on the model's development.

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