It's Not Just About Money
Even though many schools have plenty of technological resources available for their teachers and students, this does not necessarily correlate with increased use and effectiveness in teaching. In fact, one of the main problems that schools have is the way that they or their school districts order and purchase technology.
Further, if the school district does not provide teachers with ample time for training, the sad truth is that most teachers will not even use the expensive equipment that has been bought for their and their students' use.
Problem with Technology Purchases
Many schools do not spend enough time researching or planning their technology purchases. They often lack an overall plan for technology, and there is a belief that buying any technology is better than having no technology at all. They often end up purchasing items that are a “good deal” but that might not really be useful in the classroom. Sometimes, these purchases are just too difficult to integrate, or are incompatible with systems already in place.
What schools need is a well-thought-out plan for buying new technology. Teachers should be an integral part of the planning process. Because many new teachers know more about the available technology than veteran teachers, it may be a good idea for you to join the technology committee. By helping to develop a workable purchasing plan, you'll make sure you have the technological tools that will make your teaching experience more efficient and effective.
Schools often receive funds from government agencies with strings attached, such as time limits within which to spend the money. This creates the “spend it or lose it” attitude that often leads to unwise technology purchases.
Why Teachers Do Not Use Technology
In many schools across the nation, teachers are presented with a wide array of technological tools. However, many teachers do not use most or even any of this technology. Why not? The answer is not a simple one.
First, teachers lack training in new technology. Some are just shown a brief demo, while others receive no training at all. Teachers who are provided with enough training to become proficient often lack the time to integrate the new systems into their lesson plans. In fact, the majority of teachers feel that integrating technology would be a great way to connect to students, and they wish they had more planning time.
In other instances, the technology provided is just not that useful. Just because a CD-ROM game exists that helps teach a foreign language does not mean that it's a resource easily integrated into a lesson for a group of 30 students.
Is Technology the Answer?
An important question that all schools need to answer is, “What is the purpose of technology in our school?” Will technology solve the major problems facing the school? Will it raise student achievement levels? What impact will it have?
The truth is that technology is not the panacea for all of education's ills. It is simply a tool that effective teachers can use to help reinforce and teach important concepts. It is not the end of education — it is just the beginning.
If teachers rely too heavily on technology without a clear picture of how it should be integrated into their lessons, students may miss out on important parts of the educational process. If a teacher simply sends students to the computer lab each day to work on a computer program, she is not truly teaching. While some programs do provide accountability measures, most do not.
Realize that it takes time for your lesson plans to evolve to include cutting-edge technology. Set a goal to upgrade just a few lessons each year, and you will eventually have a fully integrated classroom.
Even in the case of online courses, experience has shown that a teacher must be an integral part of the educational process for the courses to reach their full potential. (A more in-depth look at online learning can be found later in the book.) Similarly, teachers who simply use technology without trying to determine the best method of use within the framework of their class will not see many benefits.
A Multitude of Resources at Your Disposal
Teachers have a wealth of technology available to them. All they need is the money to purchase these products. In fact, the number of computer games, simulations, and programs available is so great in many curriculum areas that teachers have the ability to be fairly selective before they purchase. Once again, a little bit of research and planning goes a long way toward saving money and buying only what you need and plan to use.