In The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption, authors Norris and Soloway examine ten obstacles schools face when attempting to implement new technologies into their curricula. I believe that teachers frequently run into these obstacles and many schools, especially private or small school districts, struggle to effectively overcome them.
- Lack of vision: Schools fail to set up an effective technology plan or, if a plan is in place, it is not always communicated well to the teachers and staff.
- Lack of leadership: Similar to #1, school administration may not effectively communicate the technology plan or have a clear way to implement it.
- Lack of money: Many schools face the digital divide, a separation between those that have access to technology and those that do not.
- -6. Norris and Soloway combine obstacles #4-6 together into one problem: curriculum. “As schools now move to one-to-one via BYOD—bring your own device—administrators can’t expect to be successful on the backs of teacher-generated curriculum materials. Teachers are not curriculum producers; teachers are, well, teachers” (Norris & Soloway, 2011). Effectively integrating technology into the content area is perhaps the greatest challenge for teachers and administration. The amount and variety of available applications can be overwhelming to many in the education field. Evaluating the usefulness and relative advantage of each program also adds to the difficulties. It is often left to the teacher to find an application that works well with their curriculum, obtain permission to install it, get adminstration, IT, and parents on board, and then successfully weave it into an already packed curriculum.
- Infrastructure – School must update servers, wi-fi, and Internet access. All of this may be too costly for many schools and districts.
- Parents – Parents, often unfamiliar with educational technology, may resist what they believe are just games or toys for their children to use in school. Communication with parents is crucial to gaining their support.
- Time- Finding the time to research, learn, implement, and support the integration of new technologies will take patience and commitment by teachers, administration, IT, and parents.
- Assessments- Many argue that technology is not effective in raising test scores and to some extent, I would agree. When technology is sporadically and randomly sprinkled into the classroom, it is futile to expect test scores to suddenly rise.
So how do we, those of us who see the great value in improving our schools through effective technology integration, address these barriers? How do individual teachers go about effectively integrating technology into their specific content area? “Professional development, the human infrastructure, needs refurbishing; it shouldn’t consist of random workshops or lectures that teachers suffer through on specific PD days. Rather, just as professionals in other industries are constantly honing their skills, PD needs to be an ongoing activity that is focused on helping teachers adopt essential one-to-one technology” (Norris & Soloway, 2011).
In the area of social studies, there are numerous ways to easily integrate technology, but quite often teachers are not taught how to do this or given clear expectations. Google Earth, Google Maps, and IWitness videos are just a few of the programs available to social studies classrooms. Teachers can find primary sources on websites like cia.gov and the National Archives. Students can read about current events on sites like Newsela, which adjusts the articles based on a student’s reading level. Online encyclopedias offer updated information for research and essays. Many social studies applications are free and can easily be installed on school hardware or accessed through the Internet. Virtual field trips can also offer students an opportunity to learn about places and sites they may not otherwise have the chance to experience. Creating social studies lessons with technology enhanced curriculum can help the lessons to be more exciting and engaging for the students. I believe it will take both skilled and trained teachers who are passionate about bringing classrooms into the 21st century and technology integration specialists who can bridge the gap between the available technology and effective implementation.
Bernard, S. (2009, May 27). How to Teach with Technology: Social Studies. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-social-studies-lessons
Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2011, November 16). The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption. Retrieved from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/10-barriers-technology-adoption