Without proper guidance and support, it is easy for teachers to feel overwhelmed and anxious about integrating technology into their classrooms. An Education Week report revealed that only about 50 percent of educators are comfortable with technology and an even smaller number use it for activities other than testing. Another study from Harris Interactive revealed that 89 percent of teachers think edtech improves student outcomes but only 14 percent of teachers use digital curricula weekly.
One major contributor to this disconnect is teacher uncertainty about how to use tech in their lessons. With that in mind, here are four common issues teachers face and some tried-and-true solutions and resources they can use to troubleshoot their discomfort.
1. Lack of functional knowledge about the tech their district uses. Many districts do not prepare their teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms.
- Browse online for professional development (PD) resources that address common edtech tools to position yourself for success. Another way to educate yourself is to seek advanced education that combines lessons and innovative practices.
- If your district doesn’t offer PD, encourage your leadership to start! PD can be invaluable for not only the teachers themselves, but the students as well.
- Tackle commonly used edtech in grades K-12, such as Google digital tools and iPads. Gaining this type of mastery will provide a foundation for continued learning.
- Make sure you are continually updating your skills. The best PD is ongoing. Just as we encourage students to be lifelong learners, we need teachers to practice that as well.
2. Belief that technology is a distraction to students. Many teachers feel that, because modern students already live in such a tech-heavy society, the classroom should be a respite from technology.
- Take a look at statistics that reveal tech in the classroom aids student success in a major way. Educators are almost always willing to go the extra mile to help their students, even if it means leaving their comfort zone.
- Explore software that helps you manage the classroom while students use tech. NetRef is an awesome way for teachers to minimize distraction while still using tech tools in the classroom.
- Experiment to find the right balance of tools that works for your classroom. Read up on finding the perfect mix of digital and standard lessons that will keep your students engaged.
3. Overwhelm from the wide variety of apps and programs available. The amount of apps, programs, and tech tools has reached astronomical heights. Here are some ways to help you cut through the clutter.
- Follow edtech experts on Twitter who provide incredible insight into which tech tools are optimal for varying situations. Here are a few accounts to get you started: @web20classroom, @ShellTerrell, @edutopia
- Ask your fellow educators about which tools they love, and don’t be afraid to ask them to give you some pointers on usage.
4. Budgetary concerns. It is well-documented that public schools face ongoing funding issues. As a result, teachers are often forced to pay for supplies and student resources out of their own pockets.
- Target free edtech resources when planning tech integration for your classroom. Free programs are readily available and fairly easy to find with a little web browsing, but make sure they are approved by your district in terms of safety standards and student data privacy. Three of my favorites are Remind, Real World Math, and Funbrain.
- Combine crafts and DIY activities with tech experiences by making your own virtual reality headset and using it to create cool educational adventures.
Although resources on the internet abound, one of the best things teachers can do to become better practitioners of technology is to look to their colleagues and administration for support. Professional collaboration is an easy way to foster a supportive environment and bond over new ideas and difficulties.
Finding a solution to problems with edtech may seem daunting at first, but with a proper approach and using some of the strategies I’ve shared, any teacher can become an edtech integrator.