5. What challenges do you face in integrating technology in teaching?
Tech integration in education is as exciting as it challenging. In my experience as a classroom teacher and and EdTech trainer I look at the following as challenges which we are faced with:
- Fear of failure: We have a cultural fear of failure. “The guru cannot be or better not be wrong.” Teachers are afraid that they may get stuck while in class with a technical glitch. They worry about losing class control if things don’t go according to plan or students know more about the technology than them. They fear a loss of respect.
- Curation of EdTech tools: This challenge is about who decides what EdTech is to be deployed in the classroom. Often it is the school leadership which makes the decision. The issue with that is the it assumes a one-size fits all approach. This forces teachers to use tech that does not address their subject, pedagogical or classroom needs. This results in resistance towards tech integration in general.
- Who pays for it: EdTech is not always cheap. So who pays? School or Teachers?
- Constant Training: Technology is getting updated with increasing frequency. Often teachers find it difficult to keep up. By the time they are comfortable using a certain application, it gets updated or it gets replaced by another. So regular opportunities for training is important to keep the teachers updated. School schedules are tight and it is sometimes difficult to mark out time at regular intervals for such workshops.
- Personalizing Learning for Students: Time or rather the lack of it can impact the ability of teachers to create modules conducive to personalised learning. Often the teachers may not have the right tools to facilitate the same. Many a times, the student or the parents may challenge a teacher’s efforts to personalise learning, either over or underestimating a student’s pace of learning.
- Notion that tech is only meant for assessment: Most EdTech tools brand themselves as great tools for assessment. Some take it a step further to suggest diagnostic steps that can be taken post assessment. This prevents both, the tech provider and the teachers to consider the fact the EdTech tools are great at introducing new concepts or encouraging the process of learning of that new concept.
- It is not meant for all subjects: Many feel that EdTech is effective in teaching only STEM subjects. I have often heard teachers say that there are no tech tools to teach Indian History, for example. This is a misunderstanding. Sure I cannot use a 3D image of the human anatomy to teach ancient Indian History, but I can use Google Street View to virtually visit the Bhimbetka caves in Madhya Pradesh. FlipGrid can be used to display Spanish or French (or any other foreign language) speaking skills of students. Instagram can be harnessed to display a student’s English writing skills. Twitter is a great instrument to train students the value of brevity in communication.
6. Any message that you wish to share with other teachers related to impact of technology on teaching practices.
Technology is not a substitute for a teacher. But a tech empowered teacher can definitely supplant someone who is not upgrading his/her skills. There is no right technology. There is only the right teacher. We know that good teachers can make anything work for them. They can use any situation as teachable moment. For example, if your tech supported lesson fails to take off (due to tech or no-tech reasons) how are you setting an example for the students? Are you patient? Are you willing to take the help of your students (you can learn from anyone)? Are you flexible enough to quickly adjust to situations where everything is not under your control?
Technology will not replace the teacher. In fact the presence of such powerful technology makes the role of the teacher even more critical. It becomes even more necessary to have the teachers guide students about constructive use of these tools, become their conscience keepers, help students stay safe online, guide students to gauge and critically analyse content before they accept anything as correct and accurate.
We are soon reaching critical mass where education cannot be thought of without access to technology. If you are using a smartphone, if you are connected to the internet, if you are on WhatsApp, if you have a Facebook account, you are a technologically empowered teacher. You can bring about a transformation in your classroom. You students will want to be in your class. They will ask each other, “What’s going to happen today?’’
So what’s happening in your class today?