16 SES 03 B, Current and Emergent Theoretical and Ethical Perspectives in Research on ICT in K-12 Education and Teacher Education
As the use of smartphone applications has become increasingly popular over the last decade, it has also become a tool of choice in the education system (Andone, Dron, & Pemberton, 2009; Blau & Shamir-Inbal, 2016; Gikas & Grant, 2013).Smartphones usage allow educators to provide emotional, cognitive and social support in synchronized simultaneous conversations (Ule, et al., 2015). WhatsApp is a user-friendly easily available application that can be used to apply the flipped classroom concept (Tang and Hew 2017; Nirgude, & Naik, 2017). Kindergarten children's parents exploit this application to form message groups, and see Smartphone contact as comfortable means to support their children’s education (Lim, 2016) .
Principals, and school leaders also use various Smartphone applications in their work both outside and inside school (Chipunza & Bere, 2013). Moreover, it seems that principls, who are considered effective problem-solvers and decision-makers use advanced technology (Marke, 2016; McLeod & Richardson, 2013). Modern society, that offers always-on, always-available communication services (Lim, 2016) has impact on parent-kindergarten manager relationships assisted by technology-based decision-making. Sharing decision-making helps managers to improve their work (Moos, et al., 2005) and promote school’s effectiveness, since it improves relations between decision-makers and facilitates the implementation of the decided processes (Thomsen, et al., 2016).
The present study aimed to investigate the influence of the use of the WhatsApp application on kindergarten managers’ decision-making processes. The research questions asked: which characteristics of decision-making processes are reflected in WhatApp communications? And how does this tool influence the decision-making processes?
The research sample consisted of Israeli public kindergarten managers; a population that conducts rich discourse with pupils’ parents, which serves as a fertile bed to understand decision-making processes. Because of the young age of the children and their dependence on adults, parents mediate between them and the kindergarten managers, reflected today in frequent correspondence through a smartphone application, far more than is common with regard to other age groups. The research employed mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology. 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted with the sample and 74 documents underwent analysis including transcripts from WhatsApp correspondence (were written over a period of five months). Additionally, 324 questionnaires were distributed to kindergarten managers and analyzed with deductive and descriptive statistics, including regressive analysis.
Findings indicated that the kindergarten managers used WhatsApp to make administrative decisions through the use of the application. Although use of the application was not formally introduced into the education system, nor encouraged by the Ministry of Education, kindergarten managers have assimilated its use into their professional lives, believing this improves their efficiency at work and helps them share decision-making with pupils’ parents. Nevertheless, the managers only used the application to deal with specific aspects of decision-making and for other aspects they preferred more traditional channels. The findings permitted the identification of a typology of different decision-making types- simple decisions and complicated decisions. Managers limited the WhatsApp decision-making to simple decisions, despite pressure to react fast. WhatsApp helpedmanagers to identify problems in their early stages and to be attentive to needs emerging from these problems. In complex decisions, managers are more hesitant and prefer traditional communications. The findings clarify implications of use of advanced technology in managers’ decision-making, and how they are presented to the community. The findings also relate to the setting of boundaries in discourse with pupils’ parents, as part of the regular management of the educational institution.
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