By: Andrew Jaglall
Getting students ready to learn and use essential technology skills needed for the 21st century requires collaboration between all parties involved in the education system including teachers, principals, and superintendents at a district level. We are often hearing about new and exciting technologies being used in some schools around the world, such as using Google Classroom or Office 365 to collaborate digitally across districts, while some schools are lucky if they have a functional computer lab in their school. Some of this digital divide is a result of institutional barriers in our education system. Addressing these needs requires a collaborative approach and a ‘champion’ who will recognize and advocate for technology in schools. Some of the institutional barriers that hold back effective implementation of technology in schools include unsupportive leadership, school timetabling, and school planning.
Some principals may be uninformed or unsupportive about technology usage in schools and its impact on student learning. With this issue, there may be resistance to spending money on technology in schools. They may view other aspects of school funding more important compared to investing money in technology.
School timetabling often involves scheduling into blocks, where students are unlikely to be inside for more than an hour without having a break such as recess or lunch. Additionally, many classrooms have multiple teachers to cover all curriculum subject areas for one group of students, making it hard to have students immersed in technology for extended periods of time.
A school without a plan for effective implementation of technology is unlikely to have successful, meaningful technology use in classrooms. School planning of technology use includes providing adequate opportunities for staff and students to overcome any resistance to new technology
Being cognizant of these potential barriers, there are different strategies that a teacher could use to increase funding/interest in technology for their school.
Some people may simply be unaware of how much potential a new technology tool or program could have. Educate them! Show them new tools (if you have access on a personal device) and start talking about ideas of how it could be used to help or enhance student learning. Principals may be more willing to invest money in technology if they know they have a person who is willing to put time and energy using it in their classroom. If at all possible, share your opinions on school timetabling if you feel that it doesn’t provide the opportunity for exploring new technologies.
Look for funding opportunities
Some outside companies provide a technology grant for schools to use to purchase technology for their school or to complete a research project that incorporates technology. One particular grant that comes to mind is the Best Buy School Tech Grant, which offers schools up to $10000 to spend on technology projects. Looking for opportunities like this might make it easy to encourage technology use school-wide.
Find technology/professional development opportunities
Search for new professional development opportunities around technology and invite your colleagues! It could be a good way to learn about new technology yourself and encourage others to integrate it in the classroom as well. Look for unique opportunities, such as the Best Buy Geek Squad Academy, which will come in and work with 60-100 students for a 2-day technology camp, with topics including digital music, robotics, film and script, 3D printing, and digital citizenship. These opportunities are likely to ignite a curiosity and interest in technology across your school building.
Looking for new opportunities to receive and incorporate technology into our teaching practice will be a positive step towards teaching our students the 21st century skills that they will need in order to be successful in the workplace and help close the digital divide that may exist between schools.
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Conley, L. (2010). Barriers to integrating technology.
Nicholson, D. (2015, September 10) Barriers to successful integration of educational technology.