Social capital influences upon Internet usage of rural Guatemalan English teachers for professional development

Douglas H. Tedford, Walden University


This qualitative study examined Internet usage by Guatemalan English teachers in the rural, indigenous community of San Lucas Toliman, to improve enrollments and persistence in online teacher professional development programs promoted by the Fundacion Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Woolcock's concepts of bonding, bridging and linking social capital were united with Rogers's theory of perceived attributes to ascertain why only 5 of 34 teachers completed free online coursework. Research questions addressed teacher concerns about using the Internet, teacher satisfaction with Internet resources, and social influences upon Internet usage. The participatory rural appraisal (PRA) method was employed using a culturally-sensitive native speaker to interview 20 teachers selected in a purposive sample. In accordance with PRA analysis procedures, representative interview statements were sorted, prioritized and discussed by a team of 42 community educators to generate findings. Findings indicated that interest in engaging the Internet and receiving specialized introductory support (bridging social capital) in groups (bonding social capital) was high. Findings also indicated that salary level (linking social capital) and family time demands (bonding social capital) were barriers to attending a community technology center or Internet cafe. Findings reinforced the community's support for the design of online coursework leading to salary points and college credits. This study has positive social change implications by demonstrating how organizations can promote community-driven research collaborations to facilitate teacher Internet usage in San Lucas Toliman, and could be replicated in other remote sectors of the developing world.