Educators appear to have an incomplete and inconsistence awareness of autonomy as a factor that affects learning. Blumenfeld, Kempler, and Krajik (2006) define autonomy to include the “perception of a sense of agency, which occurs when students have the opportunity for choices and for playing a significant role in directing their own activity” (p. 477). Autonomy is implicit in many of the pedagogical strategies that are replacing the Standard Model and that are associated with 21st century skills. It is reasoned that learners who have autonomy are more motivated to study and more engaged with the curriculum than those who have little autonomy. Autonomous individuals approach situations with:
- The ability to recognize a problem, which is typically a gap between the current state and the desired state;
- Knowledge of how to resolve the problem or close that gap;
- The capacity to solve the problem or close the gap;
- The authority to implement their solution.
Despite the value of autonomy in creating classroom that promote deeper learning, there is evidence teachers are allowed to exert little autonomy over instructional practices (Range, Pijanowski, Duncan, Scherz, & Hvidston, 2014).
A limit to autonomy in IT management in schools is that the four aspects of autonomy are controlled by different individuals. Problems or gaps related to teaching and learning must be identified by teachers; knowledge of how to resolve problems must emerge from teachers and technology experts as they design and test IT systems. The capacity to scale test systems into production systems that can be managed with the available resources must be done by IT professionals, and authority to decided which solutions to implement is assigned to school leaders. Efficacious IT management has been constructed as a collaborative endeavor, thus it will lead to greater autonomy, even if it is filtered through others involved with ensures actions are appropriate, proper, and reasonable.
Compared to users of IT in other organizations, teachers do appear to require greater autonomy in technology decisions (Hu, Clark, & Ma, 2003; Teo, 2011), as educators generally are more independent users of IT and use a greater variety of applications and data sources than information workers in other fields, and they are more likely than users in other organizations to test new applications and data sources for usefulness. Autonomous educators who explore and discover effective uses of IT in their classrooms, must have procedures through which their new learning can be translated into IT systems that are available and supported by the IT management team.
Autonomy is a complex variable that affects decision- making and professional activity in a variety of ways. As will be explained in Chapter 8: Understanding Change, autonomy is necessary for change to occur, but individuals who exert autonomy may also reject the vision, direction, or structure of leaders who seek to affect change.