Why is the Ed. Tech Community so far behind the "Real World" with technology adoption?

I know I am stating the obvious here, and most would agree the K-12 classroom is notorious for adopting technology much later than other sectors. But why is it so? Leadership? Lack of will? Case in point - even THIS Classroom 2.0 is so far behind the curve that we are STILL asking - "What is a podcast and how can I use podcasts to support my teaching?" .. Are we really this far behind the curve ?

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I think it has to to do with the timeline of bureaucracy that schools face. New technological inventions spring up weekly. I have to place my budget for the next school year before this school year ends. If I hear of some awesome project in the summer that requires fees or some cash outlay and I didn't request back in April or May, I'm either out of luck or I have to pay for it out of pocket. I realize that there are open source programs that cost nothing, but we teachers (I'm not part of the tech team), still have lots of hoops to work through before we can use these programs in our classrooms.

If budgets and timelines aren't the problem, then teacher training is. Most teachers teach either they that they learn best or how they were taught. Most teachers weren't taught with podcasts, using your example. Unless there is adequate training to show teachers how a podcast can benefit their students more than what they are currently using in the classroom, teachers won't use it. Teachers need to be taught how to use some of the technology but more importantly they also need to be shown how it will work in their classroom, how to assess it, how to make sure the students are learning from it, and what pitfalls to expect and avoid before they happen. There are a few teachers who will jump in and try some new piece of technology but most teachers are skeptical of using technology. Teacher training needs to go more in depth than just how to use the technology. There needs to be examples of student work with the technology and details about how the projects were set up, what were the expectations, how much time was involved, etc. It's not that all teachers are anal retentive about this information. It's that teachers only have so much time to teach a lot of content. If we expect teachers to use the new technology we need to give them support and show them what that technology looks like in a classroom setting. That is currently missing - along with time and money.

At least this is my opinion to your question. You're welcome to borrow my opinion if you need it.
"... timeline of bureaucracy that schools face" - True !
In a sense I think your premise is flawed. There are many industries that are "behind" in technology and many business within an industry that lag behind others. There are some schools that are doing incredible things with technology and many (ok, most) that aren't.

My personal opinion is that teachers can get by just fine without using technology. There students might suffer but that doesn't ultimately affect the teacher. Tenure ensures that there is no need to innovate. It doesn't matter how great my class is compared to another teacher. When it comes down to lay offs I go first because I'm lower on the experience scale. Private companies innovate because they have to. Government entities don't because there's no pressure to so.
I think your getting close with this one !

".... Private companies innovate because they have to. Government entities don't because there's no pressure to so."
We're behind because we can be!

I hate to say it, but think about it. We all could find an almost unlimited number of teachers who have no use for technology, and who use no more than may be required for reporting of grades or attendance. The result? Same as always, some kids pass, some kids fail, the teacher keeps the students for the semester or the year and gets paid every two weeks, secure in a tenured position. On the other hand, the results for teachers using technology? Some kids pass, some kids fail, the teacher keeps the students for the semester or the year and gets paid on a regular basis and marches toward retirement. Oh yes, I forgot, the teachers who are using the latest technology to help their students are working much harder (but that can't be reflected in pay or anything more than the intrinsic knowledge of a job well done).

Our problem is not the lack of technology adoption. Our problem is not a lack of caring or commitment to kids. Our problem is the 100 year old institution of "School" that for some reason we hold so sacred.

By using technology could our students learn any subject more quickly? By applying what we know from brain research and by actually benefitting from the billions of dollars spent over the years on professional development and computer hardware and software, shouldn't we be able to cause learning to occur more rapidly and effectively? You bet! But the system won't let Maria out of Algebra I until she has served her time; it won't let John out of US History, no matter how much the technology we serve him with sparks learning, interest and a passion for the subject. He still has to serve his time in the class. It's a joke. He knows it, and deep down, if we think about it, we all know it.

Why should John or Maria or their teachers rush to use technology? The system doesn't really care about their learning.

School was not set up to help individuals learn at higher levels. School was set up like an assembly line, a reflection of the best thinking of the day, but it's woefully rusted out in the 21st century.

Why don't we free the future for our learners? Why don't we free the future so that we can be the educators who spark, kindle, ignite and fan the fire of learning with all the marvelous tools at our disposal?

When will we understand that "School reform" of any type, no matter how well intentioned, and individual student achievement, are mutually exclusive terms? We simply cannot both strengthen SCHOOLS AND empower each of our children to learn at high levels. That's not to say there aren't schools doing better and better things for kids, but let's look at the facts, let's examine the data.

Who wants better schools? I sure don't! What I want are learning opportunities for every child in this country that are mass customized to their interests and needs. This is the 21st century! We CAN do that today. We have the tools, we just don't have a system to allow it. I'm not arguing that we close down our schools; not at all. I'm just saying that those buildings are just one of dozens of apps on a student's "learning iPod".

It's time to claim the 21st century and its opportunities for learning for our children!
Well said !
I think it's because the majority of schools, teachers, administrators, and parents are still in the last century. Has our model of education really changed that much in the past 50 years? People have set ideas on how students learn and how they should be taught. There are plenty of innovative teachers to be sure, but most people equate schools with textbooks desks, and pencils. 30 years ago this topic was "should math students be able to use calculators?" Now they have boundless information available in a phone that fits in their shirt pocket. Our society is past the industrial age but the schools aren't. The focus has to change from gathering information to using information. It's going to take leadership and vision and it won't happen overnight.
It took 15 years for the overhead projector to move from the bowling alley to the classroom.

But I think this is a more serious issue than mere catching up. I think we have it backwards. We should not be trying to integrate technology into the classroom. We should be trying to integrate the classroom into the technology.
We are starting out well by giving infants and pre schoolers games that work like compters and kids as young as 4 can manipulate the mouse and keyboard. After all this training we put a paper and pencil in their hand. I do not want to abolish the traditional basics, but they given much too much weight in modern education. The best example of that is NCLB.
When tiny children begin by learning about the history of living things, fish, frogs, mammals, and the formation of families... growing into tribes... and growing into villages... inventing languages, alphabets, numbers and sharing their questions and their answers with the next generation... then much of what is taught afterwords makes more sense... there is a reason for inventing and learning letters and numbers.. a reason for learning to count... not just ''Because''.
I do think some school systems are working hard to catch up to the technology and maybe most are 5-10 years behind. But it's not just government bureaucracy. Take a look at the automobile industry. Cars are still being made with technology that was created 100 years ago because you could mass produce them cheaply on an assembly line and run them off of a limitless fuel (oil). Now the whole model is failing because they failed to innovate. The model for curriculum in schools is definitely outdated in the same way. However, I can also say that we teachers need to get relevant as well. My district (very small) has been inundated with technology through a special state grant. We have interactive whiteboards, flip videos for students, a full-blown studio with green screen and sophisticated editing equipment, I-pods for podcasting, GPS for geocaching and many stand alone and portable computer labs. Some teachers have jumped on the bandwagon and have taken the extra step to work the technology into the curriculum. But many stand around complaining that they don't know how to use it and don't want to make an effort to learn. These are seasoned teachers with years of wonderful classroom experience, but they won't commit to the 21st century. We create the bureaucracy and stagnation, it doesn't create us. Let's hope the new generation teachers will get it.
I think lots of the comments are hitting at truths:
I agree with Julie, "the timeline of bureaucracy that schools face...then teacher training..." and I believe that a bureaucracy is not necessarily a bad thing. Do I really want teachers chasing bright new shiny objects because they can or do I want them making informed instructional decisions. So I believe part of the question needs to be how do we incorporate more readily the opportunity and in fact the expectation that students will add to the professional knowledge base as part of their practice.
I, also, agree with Kev, "There are many industries that are "behind" in technology and many business within an industry that lag behind others. There are some schools that are doing incredible things" Some industries lag behind because technology doesn't immediately add value and because established sectors take much more shift before they will acknowledge that their approach is wrong, i.e. the automobile industry (not necessarily a technology problem). Also, in this answer is an important recognition that change and inclusion is happening, but perhaps not fast enough for your liking.
I share Tom W's frustration, but not sure what point to include.

I like all of the points and agree with a couple of points that teacher professional development and expectations on teachers are important issues to deal with but I, also, think that you have to be careful what you ask for. The latest attempt to change expectations is being blamed for moving us in the wrong direction. I believe that no matter what expectations are put in place those expectations will be applied well and applied poorly because the system is so large and so diverse that there isn't just one solution that will fix the whole problem. I fluctuate with national standards and national expectations and leaving it to the states because with national expectations (basing this next statement on NCLB) I believe I get great mediocrity, and with state standards, I think I get progress and great
disaster (I base that statement on my experience with education in several perennial bottom dwelling states).

As I reread this statement, I'm wondering what my point is, and I'm not sure. When I first started to respond I really wanted to say that I don't want teachers running around half-informed implementing the latest technology because they can, but I do want that idea to be implemented freely when there is a plan, there is some theory backing it up, there is some thought given to student safety, there is a plan for reflection/evidence gathering (and most importantly) analysis and adjustment (note i did not say abandonment), and a timeframe that allows for true integration and publication of the process, so that others can build on the professional understanding create an evidence base and truly integrate change in a system that is flawed.

OK, great my opinion is out there, but so what. What can I really do about it? I can't change the whole system (or perhaps more importantly I don't want that job. I applaud Arne Duncan for trying and want to acknowledge that as soon as he accepted the challenge people said he was the wrong guy with the wrong approach, but who could have accepted that job that wouldn't have had that exact same response by 50% of the people?). I can however think about what I contribute to the profession and I am working on that but this isn't about what I'm trying to do (if you are interested in that discussion contact me personally). I work with teachers to make informed instructional decisions based on evidence, based on their understanding, based on how we can develop necessary skills to achieve the goals, and then push teachers to add to the collective wisdom of the profession. I think this group is another attempt at pushing that agenda (although not perhaps intentionally) and I encourage others to do that. That's how I justify my participation in this discussion, because I believe (and hold myself to this standard), if you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

A long time to say what I wanted to say, but thanks for starting this discussion. BTW, I use a lot of technology and am always trying new things... just saying for true transparency.
Blogs, wikis, podcasts......Oh my...unfortunately the Wizard of Oz can not help us! Here we all are in this together trying out our "collective wisdom" as Roland O. has mentioned in his reply. Yes, "change and inclusion is happening" faster than we are accustomed to but we are in a global commUNITY that can have an impact on the k-12 Ed Tech Community to catch up with the "real world".

I am fascinated and overwhelmed by the multitude of technological choices and can see the creative potential of these combined as mobile broadband is rapidly growing but the potential of asynchronous blogging is steadfast in my opinion. We are witnessing the globalization of the future technologies that are mentioned in the 2008 Horizon Report. Implementing content delivery we need to remain learner focused but reaching our teachers has got to be a priority. Al Gore mentions teacher training, H. Clinton mentions that teachers need peer consulting and more recognition, T. Friedman mentions teacher mentoring and teachers need teachers!

Trends may come and go but we still need to organize learning space for thoughts, concept mapping, virtual collaboration and reflection. Teachers need to learn technological literacy as well as the students. With new web based tools and new handheld devices our technology skills are constantly challenged but we are collectively in charge and the blogging must continue......

I too applaud Arne Duncan as he is faced with state versus national standards and the NCLB but teachers need
answers because the future of the US lies in the hands of the next generation and we are all their teachers.



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