What do you think the biggest hurdle is to teachers integrating even the smallest amounts of technology in their everyday practices? Lets discuss this and then the approaches to overcoming the hurdles.
Time - time to learn, time to plan, time to use equipment, time on the computer, time, time, time! With teachers I talk with, the conversation always comes down to time. As teachers begin to use the tools, they need time to plan differently and think differently. As the tools become what you use, it gets easier but at the beginning you need to have time to plan and remember to have an alternate plan if the tools aren't working - like if the network is down, there is a crash of a server at google or whatever. The things we do always seem to be an add-on to what teachers are already doing. It's interesting how so many different jobs sectors are having to adopt the new tools, no say. So, they are trained and then expected to use the tools. In education, we don't follow that structure. Even when we train the teachers, they fall back into their old habits, for the most part. So, besides time, we also need to have expectations that teachers will use the technology. That's my take on the whole 21st Century teaching perspective. I don't think that we can afford to wait to have technology use seep in from the sides. There needs to be some sort of expectations just as other people are expected to use new technologies.
I am going to throw in my comments about the hurdles and come back later to discuss solutions.
I think the two biggest hurdles are time and fear. Many teachers don't feel that they have the time to try new things, or they are so focused on other methodologies that they do not want to throw off their balance by adding something new. Fear is sneaky and harder to combat. Teachers may be afraid that they can't learn a technology well enough to be better at it then their students. They may be afraid that they will break it or cause some other harm. (I've always thought that this video seems a little condescending, but too often true.) They are often afraid that the technology will fail them. The fear that concerns me the most is when they are afraid that they can not learn a new technology, because then they often shut down and simply refuse to try.
Hindsight - I must be at least a little afraid myself because I wrote this post in third person. I am a teacher. Each of these hurdles has applied to me. Sometimes they still do. (Teaching in a computer lab, power outages haunt my nightmares.) I work very hard to use new technologies that I believe will help my students, and I try to help my colleagues overcome the same hurdles, but I too experience these fears and the lack of time.
just like week one substitute fire in trashcan evacuates building for snow day
substitute two bomb threats for two assemblies
network down part of one day
take break from wiki to do integrated unit with team (this is a good interuption)
Why am I still doing this? Commitment, belief, and motivation. I am committed to bringing my students the most up to date and best instruction I can. I believe I can leverage technology to increase learning in my class. I am motivated because I find technology fun. Because of these three traits I put in the time and provided my own tech support.
I started two other teachers on wiki's. They quit. I have to say I don't blame them. Getting past the tough spots can be rough. I helped when I could but the time factor and startup difficulties (no real tech support for this type of tool in our district) ended it for these teachers.
So what do teachers need? Time and ongoing support. This takes commitment, belief and motivation at an administrative as well as teaching levels.
I think you all have put your finger on it - Time is a big one. For teachers to give up precious time for technology, they need to really believe in its value. I used to work for the educational software company Tom Snyder Productions (that is me in the picture) and traveled around the country doing professional development for teachers (that was a cool job before I had babies). We used the acronym the R.A.T (Resources, Access and Time) for the things that got in the way of technology integration.
I think one way to get teachers to start using these tools is to focus on personal productivity. I started my technology journey using email and Websites as resources for classroom ideas. As I got comfortable with these tools for my own use, I got braver and started to think about ways to bring these technologies into my classroom (I was a sixth grade teacher way back then). Today, as a technology integration specialist, I am trying to take that route with my teachers. I think that once they start using these tools themselves the ideas for classroom use will perculate up and they will feel comfortable enough with these tools to try them.
I'd go with the argument that there's insufficient payoff for really small manageable steps and not enough skill to take on something big enough to matter.
And I think Elizabeth is right. The right place to begin integrating technology isn't in the classroom but in the teacher's personal practice.
Now, all you teachers in the group? What portion of your personal growth and development, or professional activity, takes up a lot of your time? What do you need to do better, easier, faster for yourselves so you'll have more time to spend on your students?
I also am a proponent of integrating the technology with the teachers first. I mentioned previously that I have moved my training sessions into the 2.0 world. No longer do we sit for 2 hours after school to learn a "skill" - every session incorporates a wiki, forums, etc.
It is very successful and the teachers are starting to move them from their own use to the students.
I really like this idea. As a teacher-trainer-of-teachers, I'd love to see samples of your training wikis or forums, or otherwise! They'll know how convenient it can be, and also experience what the frustrations with the switch can be. When implementing with students, they can be more prepared!
What a great topic! This particular conversation hits home in a big way for me because a.) I'm a teacher and b.) I am facilitating a professional development piece for our district on technology use in the classroom. Time, fear, resources, access...all aptly describe the hurdles a teacher may face when considering the use of technology in the classroom; I would add the willingness to embrace change and reflect on current practice. It is so incredibly easy to become "comfortable" in our ways; it takes a tremendous amount of courage to set aside our strong, long-held beliefs about learning and accept that there very well may be a "better" way of doing things. I will be interested to see how this conversation develops because all the wonderful tools in the world are meaningless if we fail to show teachers the ways in which they can radically transform teaching and learning.
Yes, Time and working tech and fear are impacting who uses the tech studio or the classroom tech where I teach. Access for teachers at home can be a problem, although at school we're lucky enough to have classroom computers as well as the studio, and we don't have a "server" so we don't have entire groups of computers go down at once.
Fear: As I reflect on it, this year I've had one teacher (twice, in fact) tell me she wanted to have someone set the classroom computers back up--after a cleaning person or she had unplugged the cords. That was fear keeping her from touching things, plus a lack of other motivators. Each time, I sent an older student to her classroom to fix her up. It was a 5th or 6th grader that she'd taught when they were younger--hopefully she'll see that if they can do it... (smile).
Time: teachers at my school need time for professional development, preparing individualized student evaluations, and continuing ed, whether or not they are into tech. Best temptations for them: Online courses that they can take in their own time at their own pace (state of PA provides them free to certified teachers), online or via cd-rom course with kit that gives cont. ed. credit to science teachers while they develop classroom activities and units on energy (funded through a grant), a subject unit "box" all put together for them with tech integrated from local Intermediate unit, children's museum, or teaching university.
Working Tech: sigh. Our internet access is through satellite. I'd love dsl, or cable, or T1... All teachers can turn off the filter if they need to...but not all of them recognize the filter is what is blocking them! Printers are my nemesis...
Student Enthusiasm: One other temptation to getting the teachers into tech that has worked for some: get the kids all independent on something (I've set up shortcuts to math games such as Timez Attacks and sudoku) and suggest that a harried looking teacher could head to the tech studio next time she wants to give some "free choice" time and I'd have the students show her what we had set up. The teacher wound up adding to the choice of activities and coming back...
Access. In all the schools I've seen in my neighborhood, it can be pretty tough to get extra computer time if you have an idea for a neat project. A lot of teachers simply give up trying to get into the computer room with their class because it always seems to be booked when they need it.
One of the biggest hurdles is that teachers are resistant to the idea that a significant shift in pedagogy is required for tech integration to work in a meaningful way. This is scary stuff for many teachers who are
a) comfortable and confident in an instruction-based classroom and are b) judged on students' results in high stakes standardised testing. For technology to lead to the promised land of increased engagement, improved critical thinking skills and the ability to work with others, students need opportunities to be involved in an environment that facilitiates peer-based, collaborative and curiosity-driven learning. The key tension is that it can be hard to experiment with technology in class and new ways of doing things when the "you need to know this for the test" philosophy dominates.