Recent reports from groups such as the CEO Forum on Education and Technology, the Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the American College of Education have identified reasons why the potential for technology to transform teaching and learning is not being fully realized. The authors distill these reasons into eight areas that must be addressed, some on a school-by-school basis and some on a larger scale:
1. Funds are stretched too thin. Buying computers isn’t sufficient, if internet connectivity and quality software can’t be purchased, too. Also, without sufficient funding for training, teachers can’t maximize the benefits of new technology.
2. Poorly coordinated purchasing. Teachers still are not fully consulted by school district administrators about the types of software that are age- and maturity-appropriate for their students and the circumstances that exist in their classrooms.
3. Inadequate, poorly placed internet connections. Having internet connections in the wrong part of the school diminishes teacher and student interest in going online. Fast connections in each classroom are preferred. In many schools, principals or librarians remain the only people connected to the internet, leaving teachers without access to anything more than basic printouts from web sitesand only if the principal/librarian or his/her staff have time to make the printouts.
4. Training that misses the point. Showing teachers how to use computers is valuable, but it’s not sufficient. Teachers need to understand how to integrate technology into their lessons, not just how to run a piece of software.
5. Inadequate tech support. This is a significant problem across the nation. Many teachers avoid using in-school equipment because it’s unreliable. While they can find lessons through web searches at home, they won’t attempt to bring live interactivity to their students unless they’re confident that in-school computers will work.
6. Maintenance is underfunded. Computers do break. Networks do crash. Investment in regular maintenance and upgrading of computers and networks is needed, and this must go beyond the short-term fixes that tech support staff can provide. When maintenance is not budgeted for, the computers and systems in schools eventually break down, and the computers sit unused.
7. Inertia. Teachers do what is comfortable and familiar to themin other words, what has worked in the past. All the other difficulties of implementing technology in the classroom just make it even harder to overcome this inertia.
8. Lack of incentives. Teachers who are rated on test scores instead of technology use will naturally focus their efforts on improving student scores.