Education leaders recognize that tomorrow’s teachers must be increasingly tech-savvy. There are many barriers preventing this necessary step from occurring, but surveys indicate that the three most prominent are weak incentives, lack of time, and inadequate leadership. Some steps have been taken to address these problems, however:
- Weak incentives. The problem with incentives begins in teacher-education courses at the university level. Education professors often have weaker technology skills than their students, and they are reluctant to show their weakness or change their mode of teaching. Some university teaching programs are now seeking ways to build into their tenure assessments an expectation that teachers will show how technology can be used in education. In addition to programs initiated by universities, federally funded projects are trying to develop model programs for training new and experienced teachers in the use of technology in the classroom. The Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology program is one of the most prominent examples.
- Lack of time. Time constraints can become a problem for teachers seeking to upgrade their skills. Online professional development courses are one emerging solution. Many school districts now supplement online training courses with web portal sites through which teachers can exchange information and ideas during the school year, not just when they are working on projects in a particular training course.
- Inadequate leadership. Weak leadership is the least-addressed problem to date. Train-the-administrator programs are being developed by many states and universities, and administrators are being encouraged to take these online courses during the school year or in person over the summer. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is making grants to all 50 states to develop these types of programs.