Implementing new technology in the classroom can be difficult. It’s not all that different from adopting a brand new curriculum. Teachers need time to explore and understand the technology themselves before feeling comfortable using it in the classroom. With budget cuts and less funding, the training portion of technology implementation often gets sidestepped. Instead, many teachers come back from summer vacation to find a cart of laptops or Apple TVs in their rooms with no more than a sticky note that says, “Use me.”
So, back in March, we asked our loyal Twitter followers the question, “What is the biggest obstacle you face when implementing new tech in the classroom?” We got so many great responses that we can’t share them all in this article. But instead, we can highlight a few of the reoccurring themes that our followers in the education world identified.
Surprisingly, many Twitter users cited student skills and interest as a major hurdle. It’s easy to think of kids nowadays as more tech-savvy than most adults, but from the looks of these answers, that’s not always the case:
@The_Math_Wiz, tweeted, “Lack of foundational knowledge of the technology being used, such as keyboarding skills when using laptops.”
@TweacherSmith wrote, “Biggest obstacle is not knowing how tech will look/work from Ss perspective.”
@katrinrulokoz said, “learners’ resistance to technology and fear of change” and
@ahmad_alkabbanytweeted, “No matter how big the obstacles I face, they won’t be as challenging as making the students accept it and make the best out of it.”
Not nearly as surprising as the student resistance, is the lack of teacher buy-in. Any one who has been in education long enough rightfully feels that new initiatives are just a passing fad and won’t be around long enough to spend time learning about. While technology doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, many of our Twitter followers expressed frustration with colleagues who aren’t ready to embrace it.
@VSCCVist_ED wrote, “getting faculty on board and comfortable with it.”
@basnettj gave the label “The unbeliever” to teachers who aren’t ready to implement tech, yet.
@inovateach tweeted, “technology reluctant teachers and directors”
@seni_bl didn’t mince words with the reply, “Narrow-minded people and the statement: We’ve always done it this way!”
@rdlmrborko tweeted, “staff reluctant or anxious to embrace change”
Both @jonnythinkgroup and @mrandersonELA pointed out the importance of training to help reluctant teachers with their replies, “teachers who won’t dare embrace tech even though it will enhance teaching/learning. It can be overcome with the right training.” And “Lack of sustained training. Without it, teachers can become cynical at what appears to be yet another top-down mandate.”
These two things seem to be linked when in comes to technology implementation. Sometimes the school’s budget is too small to afford upgrades or even an IT department. In other cases, new tech is purchased without also upgrading infrastructure, leading to unusable devices.
@fergonco66tweeted, “Resources and tech support. I have to solve most of the problems that come up by myself.”
@tekiger_Wendy wrote, “not having a tech dept. -no one has permission to load new apps so ipads sit in cart.”
@clholtapp said, “lack of resources! Absolute lack of funding. Small rural school here.”
@LisaGottfried wrote, “limitations imposed at district level. No IT support when technology breaks. Choosing inferior computers because they are cheap”
@jakepederson tweeted, “Schools quick to buy new tech rather than investing in supporting staff & infrastructure are setting educators up for trouble”
@Mark_DuBois summed up the problem by saying, “incredibly poor wifi”
Firewalls and access are a problem for some teachers, too.
@medunn80 wrote,“Access, repairs, and Blocked sites”
@LittleLadyLH lamented, “Blocked websites (like @YouTube). Understand the danger to students but at least let teachers have access!”
Several teachers were not afraid to admit that they were nervous about the new tech due to their own unfamiliarity with it.
@Dalais44 responded simply, “understanding it myself.”
@MrsLieke wrote, “the use of the technology itself”
Some teachers were concerned that students didn’t have access to tech outside of the classroom.
@KathyFranklin64 wrote, “Students not having Internet or PC at home for homework”
The use of technology for testing discouraged some followers from using it at all.
@msjwright2tweeted, “Can’t use it in the spring because all computers devoted to testing. (Which discourages me from ever even starting…)”
Some tech savvy teachers want to see technology integration become a reality, and not just use of technology for technology sake.
@SethAlanSmith write, “getting past substitution and augmentation. Carefully planning in integrating, not just using.”
@cascadianAE tweeted, “The main obstacle in using new tech is breaking out of old patterns and truly doing something that couldn’t have been done w/o it.”
Some educators worry about how technology impacts creativity and critical thinking.
@YernarYernar999 tweeted “sudden disappearance of creativity :)”
Teachers are always concerned with keeping kids safe.
@wanlatartara wrote, “The elephant in the room is student privacy”
And then there are educators teaching in locations so remote that basic requirements for tech implementation are not available.
@simplybeyondeng tweeted “#noelectricity in the villages.”
We love hearing from readers online! From educators, to administrators, to publishers, to developers, everyone has a different take on what’s important in the edtech space. We can’t wait to hear your response to our next question of the month. And if you can’t wait that long, tweet us @edudemic, visit us on Facebook, or comment on an article that speaks to you at Edudemic.com.