Fewer than two out of every 10 teachers in the United States are considered “serious” computer users, gauged by their use of computers in the classroom several times a week, while three to four out of every 10 teachers use computers about once a month and the remainder never at all.
There are many assumptions as to why teachers don’t use the technology they have available to them more often, not the least of which is that teachers are simply afraid of the technology.
The author disagrees, citing statistics that show seven of those same 10 teachers have computers at home and tend to use them more there than they do at school.
That said, the author points to five areas he says are overlooked when examining the teacher technology puzzle:
1. Ever-changing advice from external sources. First, it was teaching students BASIC in a lab setting, then it was teaching them applications such as word processing and spreadsheets. And then things shifted to the classroom, where teachers were told to show their students how to use the internet and eMail, how to program in HTML, and how to create multimedia presentations.
2. Too much to do, too little time. While technology has streamlined the way the corporate world gets things done, teachers still teach the same number of classes and students as before. Preparation time for the classes is also the same as before.
3. Getting pulled in several directions. Teachers must know their subjects, report on abuse and bad behavior, and help students meet state mandates for standardized tests. They are then held personally accountable for how well their students do.
4. Unreliable technology. Teachers must be extremely patient to deal with equipment that breaks down, especially if their school has no on-site technical support (and most don’t).
5. No respect. Decision makers don’t often consult teachers on what technologies would be best for them, so their voices go mainly unheard.