Is technology the answer?
It is no secret that schools over the past fifteen years have become more acutely aware of the need to improve access to technology in the buildings. Millions of dollars are spent each year on everything from computers to smartboards. But does throwing money into the technological infrastructure really improve instruction? The answer is a resounding NO! If teachers are not trained on hardware and software, what sense does it make to purchase it? Instructional leaders need to realize that technology integration does not just mean buying five digital cameras, a computer, printer, and scanner for each classroom, and a handful of software programs. These all become very expensive paperweights if the proper training does not accompany it.
Teachers need more than one introductory in-service on how to use a software program or how to operate hardware. If the educational system expects teachers to improve their technology literacy, the schools need to provide support. Many of the teachers in the
US school system were not raised during the digital age. Because of this, teachers are forced to play catch up. Teacher training programs up until the past two or three years didn’t even require a educational technology course. So many teachers have had to teach themselves how to use various computer programs, etc… As technology becomes more elaborate, the fear factor for many people increases. School districts across the
US have started offering in-service training in order to get teachers familiar with new technology. The problem is that these classes are often attended by entire faculties or grade levels. With so many people, it becomes increasingly difficult to provide the individual attention necessary to really achieve competency. In addition to the size of in-service training classes, the frequency in which they occur is also a problem. Most people will forget what they learned during training if they are not constantly using it. There needs to be continued in school support for technology integration.
Once school districts wake up and put both the infrastructure and the training in place, it will be more likely that technology will begin to have an impact on instructional practices. We can no longer stick our heads in the sand and pretend that technology is not important to the success of our students. Most of the kids today were born with a cell phone in their hand. They have been raised in the digital age and use various forms of technology on a daily basis. It is our job as teachers to catch up to them, but show them how technology can be used for improving their educational experience.