“Lack Ofs” – The Enemies of EdTech

Why Teachers Don’t Use Technology in the Classroom?

Thought leaders often discuss the notion of digital natives vs digital immigrants.  If you are unfamiliar with this idea, the concept is simple.  Students currently enrolled in schools across the nation have grown up never knowing a world without high speed internet, social media, and the instant access to information that this abundance of technology brings.  Those students are “natives” in the new world while the rest of us are immigrants.  We have immigrated into the digital age, some folks quicker than others.

These digital natives don’t need to memorize facts or formulas when they have the Internet in their pocket at all times. Students need to learn skills.  Skills that cannot be “googled”. Technology in the classroom provides the means to teach these skills and to engage students in ways that were not possible until recent years.   If true authentic learning is directly tied to engagement, then why aren’t more teachers using technology in the classroom?  It’s a “lack of” problem.   Here are seven common “lack of” reasons why teachers don’t use technology.

  • Lack of Technology
    Some districts simply don’t have the money to purchase classroom technologies. Other districts may not place as much value on technology integration.  Whatever the case may be, it is difficult to integrate tech when you don’t have access to it.
  • Lack of Infrastructure
    In order for technology to work well in the classroom, the district infrastructure must be able to support it. A lack of adequate infrastructure will quickly lead to frustration.  Teachers won’t both to use technology because they’ll assume the network can’t support it.
  • Lack of Training
    So often technology is purchased and then just handed out to teachers without any formal training. Professional development is an afterthought or a luxury that the district cannot afford.  When this happens, the device, software or both get put aside and rarely used if at all. Even with a heavily adopted product, like Gmail, there is still an opportunity for training. Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know.
  • Lack of Purpose
    Those teachers who have been successful in the classroom for years without technology often don’t see a need for it. They look at it with the age old mantra of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  The problem though, is that it IS broke and needs to be fixed.  Technology can help bridge the gap between what used to work and what will work.  Teachers don’t need to redesign all of their lessons.  They just need to adapt them to use technology when appropriate.
  • Lack of Confidence
    Teachers who are not comfortable using technology in their personal life are unlikely to use it in their professional life. When talking with these folks, questions like “What if it doesn’t work?” or “What if I break something?” are common place.
  • Lack of Leadership
    Poor leadership can play a factor in technology’s role in the classroom. There needs to be a transparent plan in place to research, implement, and support new technologies. On the same lines, the district leadership needs to be supportive of innovations at the classroom or building level.  Without those two components, teachers will struggle to adopt new technologies and ideas.
  • Lack of Time
    In my opinion, this is the most common reason why teachers don’t use technology in the classroom. It seems like every year there’s a new mandate or initiative that gets added to their plates.   Most teachers are willing to integrate new technology, but finding the time to learn the tech and then create lessons to go along with it is a real challenge.

Unfortunately, there is no magic edtech bullet to solve most of these problems.  Many of them require big changes, either personally or systemically.  Do these “Lack Ofs” describe your district or your classroom?  Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.

7 Replies to ““Lack Ofs” – The Enemies of EdTech

  1. I feel I have been lucky enough to have decent tech support in my job over the last 3 years to be able to adequately incorporate technology into my classroom. However, there is sooo much more that I could do with all that is available out there. I teach life sciences and with the STEM push more and more science tech applications are being developed and becoming available that I should be using, however I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know what is the best application, product, software, provider, etc. to use, not to mention the time and money it takes to research and pilot them. I’m willing and wanting to learn but I’m not willing or wanting to be frustrated, feel like I’m wasting my time, or sacrifice something I should be doing for something that, it turns out, I ultimately can’t put into practice in my classroom.

    1. Christine, I think you make a very valid point. Not knowing whats out there is a formidable problem in itself, not to mention weeding out all the sub-par apps and products once you actually find them. There are sites out there that try to help alleviate some of these headaches. I know this doesn’t solve all your issues, but I did find a few sites to share:

      http://blog.iat.com/2014/12/29/25-stem-education-apps-you-need-in-2015/
      https://concord.org/stem-resources
      http://www.mastersindatascience.org/blog/the-ultimate-stem-guide-for-kids-239-cool-sites-about-science-technology-engineering-and-math/

  2. Great list of “Lack ofs”, Mike. It is overwhelming, Christine, and truthfully, only you can determine what is “best”. If we institutionalize technology uses, we continue to perpetuate the cookie-cutter approach to instruction. What do you think would happen if teachers were given a budget and told to purchase technology programs and apps that met their instructional needs?

  3. most teachers suffer from technophobic. The percentage of lady teachers is more. Most high class technologies are not accecible to teachers for practice. Hence it is better not to use technology than a grand failure in front of students. Prakash Deo, Bhopal, India

  4. As a school leader and an older digital Immigrant, I have experienced many of the ‘lack ofs’ during my teaching career. If we are determined to encourage, explore and model those skills that can’t be googled, then some of the lack ofs will disappear as we will collaborate with colleagues to find apps; we will make mistakes and ask for help from those ‘expert pupils’ in our classrooms; leaders will prioritise what is important for their school and community and put systems and structures in place to make it work, including time for teachers to focus on an aspect of technology and do it well.

  5. Great, succinct list of barriers to entry, Mike.

    If any folks are interested in discussing these barriers adoption further We (the Scheller Teacher Education Program and Education Arcade at MIT) are launching a course on July 15th – 11.133x: Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology on the EdX platform.

    We would love to have some folks participate in this project-based, collaborative course in school or district teams. It would be great to foster more ongoing reflection on these issues in a way that is really relevant for them given their local context, learning goals and the like. someone else who might) check out the registration page at https://www.edx.org/course/implementation-evaluation-educational-mitx-11-133xas well as potential ways to overcome them and evaluate

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