“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.