I spent a couple of hours this weekend hopping in and out of the K12Online Chat Room and listening to all the reasons why we should integrate technology in the classroom. Someone in the room proposed that if only every teacher in the world would watch just one session from the K12Online Conference, we could change the world. I think that’s a bit of hyperbole (unless it’s my session that the teachers watch).
I’ve developed list of reasons why we’re not integrating technology in school. At one point it was just a lady from Ireland in the chat room and myself and we talked about our respective schools. I mentioned that I was often the only techie at my school and she said “me too.” I told her we have a prescribed curriculum and she said “me too.” So this list, naturally, is focused on the United States but I get the sense that it might apply other places too.
It’s not that I wish to be pessimistic. However, unless we can come up with solutions to these problems, we’re not just going to be change the educational landscape.
- Technology is expensive.
The way we fund education, it is clear that education isn’t a priority. It seems even less money makes its way to the classroom as much of it is funneled into central offices district bloat. We can’t pay teachers enough and now we want computers in addition. Not only is there a cost to buying computers there is also a hidden cost of tech support that districts must provide when putting computers in classrooms.
- Technology is broken or unavailable.
- Technology use isn’t tested.
I’m not proposing we implement standardized computer-use testing. However, let’s face it, if NCLB mandated such a test we’d all have computers. As long as we want standardized test results from students we’re going to have standardized teaching that attempts to align with those tests.
- Technology lessons often aren’t well planned.
Student engagement isn’t enough. I know of several great technology using teachers who are terrible teachers. They can get their computers to work during a lesson but they don’t seem to know the first thing about having a learning objective or know how to assess whether students have learned what they’re trying to teach. The fact that students have fun is just peachy but it doesn’t justify the expense I’ve already talked about. Technology use needs to be aligned with standards and the appropriate tool for the job—and not simply be based on the availability of particular equipment. If you have limited equipment then you have to find a way to get that equipment to fit your lessons and not the other way around.
- Fear of losing control.
It’s not so much a fear of using the technology but a fear of allowing students to teach their teachers how to use that technology. For the same reasons that teachers could never live without Xerox machines and worksheet companies stay in business, that inquiry and research, independent work time, and workshop are the least components of our prescribed curriculum, many teachers don’t want to risk giving up control to integrate technology.
Please add to my list and/or provide some solutions.