The use of technology in the classroom is slowly becoming an integral part of the way teachers impart knowledge in the classroom. Of course, technology has a number of benefits and it lends itself to the belief that each teacher is taking the necessary strides to improve the educational values of the classroom to the young impressionable minds that they encounter. But, new technologies have brought with it a number of changes that have impacted the teaching and learning process in many ways. Technology in the classroom started decades ago and is not limited to the used of Internet and computers as teaching tools. There are virtual field trips, graphing calculators, online databanks with lesson plans, and simulated dissections that allow teachers to impart knowledge in an exciting and student-friendly manner. Nonetheless, with the advent of Internet service in majority of the classrooms there are significant barriers that prevent teachers from maximizing on the true potential of technology in the classroom.
Classification of barriers
There are number of studies that categorize the barriers to using technology in the classroom under two major categories: intrinsic and extrinsic barriers (Bingimlas, 2009). The categorization does not narrow the types of barriers that fall under the main headings as the only barriers. Bingimlas notes that each categorization has a number of subheadings and each level of barrier is important to the overall use and development of technology in the classroom. Extrinsic barriers are external factors that impact the use of technology. These barriers are classified as “first order and cited access, time support, resources and training” (Bingimlas, 2009, p. 237) as the major factors that influence their outcome. On the other hand, intrinsic barriers are “second-order and cited” (Bingimlas, 2009, p. 237) and include the users attitudes, practices, resistance, and beliefs (Bingimlas, 2009). In other words, extrinsic barriers to technology involve the organization, or in this case the school, while intrinsic barriers include the administrators, teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders in the education system.
One of the major barriers to using technology in the classroom lies with the teachers as the teacher level barriers comes by way of teachers who lack self-confidence, time and training to use the technology (Bingimlas, 2009). Many teachers are of the opinion that these new methods are not proven to be effective as they have to contend with careful monitoring of the student’s use of computers and the Internet in the classroom. In addition, a number of teachers believe that there is a significant barrier in the use of technology and the way students learn. Much of this discrepancy however stems from the teacher’s lack of confidence and comfort in using technology for learning and teaching integration in the classroom.
Surprisingly, a number of teachers are still stuck on using the traditional methods of teaching as they believe that these measures have been tried and proven over the years. But, the challenge is clear as the current student population across the country is familiar with technology and is technologically savvy and therefore, they become resistant to the old methods of using traditional teaching methods of reading from textbooks or making notes in their books. The simple use of the projector and SMART boards create barriers to learning and teaching because a number of teachers are uncomfortable with their use.
Arguably, the technology as a teaching tool provides a number of benefits, but it also leads to a breakdown in communication in the classroom as the lesson become more teacher-centered rather than student centered. Current researches on the use of technology in the classroom reiterates the important of making learning more accessible and even more interesting as students are able to explore virtual worlds though animated presentations. But, such methods require that teachers learn to maximize on the use of this technology as to effectuate the greatest learning outcomes. Khalid Bingimlas argues that some teachers have insufficient knowledge of the technology they are using and this impacts their level of competence in its use (Bingimlas, 2009). As one could argue that the lack of confidence and competence provides one of the greatest challenges to implementing technology in the classroom.
The school can create barriers to the use of technology in the classroom as it takes strong leaders to effectuate changes in the learning process. School administrators must weigh the pros and cons that are associated with implementing technology and the use of technology in the classroom. Conversely, the implementation of any technological device will add financial burden to the schools’ budgets and a number of administrators are reluctant to implement any additional instruments. In addition, the schools must create openings in the daily routines so that teachers can be trained to use the new technology.
Undoubtedly, the training of teachers will impinge on the contact sessions with the students and the administration will need to find other teachers to substitute for those who are in training. Some training programs attract a cost and the administrators must also take that into consideration. Based on the additional financial cost to train teachers and install these technological devices, school administrators create a barrier that prevents technology from entering the schools. But, the implementation of SMART boards in every classroom, access to graph boards, and constant replacement of material to use with these devices place a strain on the school’s budget.
The concerns of the school administrators are genuine as schools work against a budget and in many cases the budget does not include additional expenditure of such nature. Nonetheless, teachers must be trained in the use of technology in order to motivate students. But, if the schools hope to improve the teaching and learning process “sessions should be held to help teachers locate, adapt, and translate open educational resources” (Wright 2014, par 7).
Power and Internet connectivity as barriers to learning
In developing countries, one of the major barriers to educational technology is electrical power and internet connectivity. In some countries, Internet connections are weak in many parts and as such schools are unable to access the use of the Internet to operate these technological devices. In addition, the power is unreliable and teachers who may plan to incorporate the technological tools in their lessons become dejected and frustrated when they have to switch a lesson without prior preparation or knowledge. More developed countries, such as the United States will have limited amount of challenges in the area, but in a global market where technology has bombarded every channel of Interaction, the limits to Internet access and power supply can be a serious challenge.
Technology in education allows persons to become more aware of world events and become familiar with educational material that is used around the world. The material is integral to the learning material as education has become integrated and the subject matter in one country is similar to that in other countries. Additionally, technology allows students to interface with other students around the world and this is important to modern language development and other subject matter. The changes in technology allows teachers and students to enter other classes online and students can gain much more first-hand know of foreign language and geographical structure of other countries from the natives in these countries. This procedure will make learning easier for many students, but this cannot be a regular occurrence for many persons who face the barriers of consistent Internet and power supplies.
Absence of technical support for technology
Schools may implement the technology in the classroom and train teachers to use these devices effectively as learning tools. However, the lack of technical assistance to carry out maintenance of setting up these devices causes teachers to lose out on the amount of time that they spend teaching. Despite the experiences that teachers may have using technological devices, the problem of maintenance creates challenges when delivering lessons.
Bingimlas argues that the lack of good technical support in subjects such as the science can lead to frustration for teachers and students. Other technical problems in the use of technology includes lengthy waiting periods for websites to open or failing to connect to the Internet (Bingimlas, 2009) and working with defective computers. In additional, not having a technical expert on hand to fix the problems with any form of technological device heightens the level of frustration and also results in a loss of time to carry out lessons.
Solutions to the barriers of technology in the classroom
Each barrier to the use of technology in the classroom can be fixed in different ways, but the most important strategy to fix these problems requires additional financial and technical support. Administrators, in their bid to reduce the challenges of using technology in the classroom, can find support from parents and businesses and seek sponsorship in reducing the cost of implementing the technology in the classroom.
Schools cannot hope to finance the additional devices and installing them into the specific places. Parents with technical knowledge can volunteer their services in maintaining the instruments and as such this will reduce the financial burden for the school. Additionally, many parents and well-wishers have baccalaureates in Information Technology and its uses. They can share their expertise with teachers and also reduce the cost of employing a skill professional to carry out training sessions.
Secondly, teachers with low self-confidence in using the technology need a strong support system to help them to adjust to the changes in their teaching strategies. Therefore, teachers need a strong support team in the school culture to help them to improve and accept the changes. These positive organizational structures will help teachers to learn to develop positive attitudes and learn valuable topics that can make positive changes in the classroom. Teachers can also work together to help each other to build their skills in using these technologies.
Thirdly, El Semary’s provides a simple, but effective solution to the barriers from teachers who have low self-esteem in using technology in the classroom. Based the 2011 study on the barriers to using technology, El Semery suggests that teachers form groups outside of their schools and this will help them to actively engage in discussions on planning and implementing technology in the classrooms (El Semery, 2011). Furthermore, these teachers can use emails to share subject matter or to encourage students to view their emails for assignments (El Semery, 2011). The frequent use of technology outside of the classroom will help to improve the use of technology in the classroom.
Finally, reliability in technology is important as school administrators must provide teachers with reliable material in order for the teacher to impart knowledge effectively. One solution to this problem is to ensure that the staff understands the importance of maintenance of the technology (Butler & Selborn, 2002). In addition, administrators should ensure that they purchase reliable and durable technological devices despite the cost (Butler & Selborn, 2002).
The use of technology in the classroom is important in this globalized world. The improvement in science and technology means that each country must become aware of the importance of technology and its use. Furthermore, schools must ensure that students and staff become more comfortable with these devices as the future of the world depends on the way that the present generation use technology as a tool for learning and development. Despite the barriers that may surface with the use of technology, there are a number of simple solutions to the overcoming these barriers and teachers must adhere to these solutions if they hope to maximize on the process or teaching and learning.
Bingimlas, Khalid Abdullah, (2009) Barriers to Successful Integration of ICT in Teaching and
Learning Environment: A Review of Literature, Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 5(3), 235 – 245, Retrieved from www.ejmste.com 12 Feb 2016
Butler, Darrel & Selborn, Martin (2002) Barrier to Adopting for Teaching and Learning
Educause Quarterly, pp 22 – 29, Retrieved from www.er.educause.edu 12 Feb 2016
El Semery, Hebatalla (2011) Barriers to Effective Use of Technology in Education: Case Study
of UAE University, Vol. 01, Issue 05m Mass Communication Department, UAE University, Retrieved from www.asia-transactions.org 12 Feb 2016
Wright, Clayton R., (2014) 5 Key Barriers to Educational Technology Adoption in the
Developing World, Educational Technology Debate, Retrieved from http://edutechdebate.org/2014-ict4edu-trends/5-key-barriers-to-educational-technology-adoption-in-the-developing-world/ 12 Feb 2016