The classroom has changed significantly in the last two to three decades, and perhaps even more in the last couple of years alone. Schools have gone from using blackboards to using smartboards, from notebooks to laptops/tablets, and from traditional print books to digital textbooks and even fully online libraries.
Needless to say, the scene has changed in the world of pedagogy.
We now live in a highly digital world that is practically dependent on technology to run smoothly. Just in the last few years, even before the pandemic rushed schools into remote learning options, virtual classrooms were becoming more and more popular.
New applications for video conferencing, tracking students’ progress with digital forms and allowing for virtual collaboration among students and their teachers are now being used daily in districts around the globe.
Even with all of this technology available, the education sector lags behind in optimizing technology. Why is that? Are schools tech-phobic? Is it hard for a district or campus to adopt a new technology system?
Here, we take a closer look at the reasons why education is slow to adopt technology.
In order to support the kind of technology that is available to schools today, districts need to enhance their infrastructure. Many campuses now have a 1-to-1 device policy where each student and even teacher has their own tablet or laptop. For that to work without interruption, a school must have the network bandwidth to support it.
In addition, not every district has the means to provide a 1-to-1 ratio of devices on every campus, which could lead to issues of inequity. The solution, then, becomes much like the student who doesn’t have enough candy to share with the entire class – if they can’t with everyone then they shouldn’t share with anyone.
In order for change to occur, many people have to agree on it. Teachers, administrators, parents, and members of the school board all have a say in how district budgets are allocated. If enough people don’t agree on the importance and value of technology, then the money that’s available will be spent on something else.
Education technology can be a risky investment, too, so acquisition can’t be rushed and must be based on relevant research and assessment, and grounded on best practices.
Purchasing and implementing a new technology product takes a great deal of time and can be very expensive. The initial purchase alone has a cost, and then there is the cost of training everyone from IT techs and administrators to teachers, students and even parents how to use it properly. Districts may be hesitant to adopt a new technology simply based on the overwhelming amount of time that it will take to organize and implement a proper adoption.
Purchasing the technology isn’t enough. Teachers need to be trained how to use it effectively. Otherwise, they simply won’t use it. There is nothing worse for a teacher than to have to spend precious hours trying to understand technology that they are hesitant to use in the first place.
In order for new technology to be properly implemented, administrators first need to get teachers to buy-in and see the value in it, then train them on its proper use, and provide ample opportunities for support beyond that initial kick-off training.
This is where the concept of quality over quantity best applies. We need not just increased bandwidth or faster Internet connection or laptops for every student.
Government bodies must also focus on competence development equipping teachers with enough training within a good period of time to master a technology and effectively integrate it into their classes. Skill development for faculty and teachers is inarguably complicated, but not impossible.
It’s not uncommon for school administrators to view education technology as simply adding the use of devices to the routine school day. A true integration of technology in the classroom means things like teaching students how to search for information online, using software programs to boost the turning in, grading and return of assignments, and enhancing student learning through the use of educational games and programs.
To really measure the impact of technology on student learning, schools can’t acquire programs and devices just for the sake of checking off a state-required box. Students, teachers, parents and even administrators need to see the value in it and approach every technological interaction from that perspective.
When all of the above mentioned barriers have been addressed, the next question becomes how will the technology be maintained? Whose job will it be to ensure the technology is regularly updated and that teachers are given ample time to be trained on those updates and how to navigate them effectively?
Technology is constantly changing and upgrades are constant. It is most certainly not something you can set-and-forget. And all of these updates and training sessions require the largest barrier to any change in education: time and money. Many districts hesitate to take on that level of responsibility for fear of not being able to keep up with it.
Speaking of that word—fear—it seems to be the place that all of these barriers to technology in education stem from. The fear of improper implementation, the fear of lack of use, the fear of the change in the “traditional school experience.”
These are all things that cross the minds of teachers, parents and administrators alike. However, as we mentioned at the start of this post, we live in a highly digitized world.
As educators, it is our responsibility to prepare students for the modern world that they will enter upon graduation and that begins with providing them with a modern education. At LINQ, it is our goal to help you be successful.
Schedule a tour with us today and we’ll walk you through the solutions we offer to digitize your district in the most efficient, hassle-free way possible.
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