I was lucky, I got to go to a lot of conferences, had a flexible curriculum, had my own computer lab with my own network that I was the administrator of and had less pressure than the top four content areas. I tried and integrated lots of technology and online tools in my classroom and shared with anyone that would listen. However, not everyone was so lucky, even in the same building. I set out to find out what the obstacles were to integrating some great technology tools. Here are the top 5 in my neighborhood:
1. Content. You might have a great tool to share with lots of great opportunities but if teachers do not see how the tool fits in with the content that they teaching at the moment, they hesitate to spend time on it or forget about it when it does fit in. They do not want to use technology just for technologies’ sake. It should not be a stretch.
2. Signal. Wifi is not always dependable in schools. Certain classrooms get no signal, within classrooms there are dead spots. We have had to have students all sit on one side of the room or go to the board to connect and then go back to their seat. There are very few spots in our 10 year old state of the art middle school where you can even get a cell phone signal.
3. Getting started. By the time the students get the computers off the cart, start them up (slow in some places) and log in (where are their passwords?), you may have lost valuable instruction time and their interest. AND you need to have time to debrief and have students log out and put them back on the cart! Sometimes sites require logging in and registration just to add to the fun.
4. Access. We have multiple carts of wireless (see number one) computers, a media center lab, 2 computer labs (open at various class periods) and a small CAD lab. You have to sign up early and often to get the computers. There are whole blocks of time when whole labs are out of circulation because they are reserved for various and sundry class “diagnostic tests” – ex. Learnia, etc. Classes may be too big to have one-on-one even in the labs.
5. Risky. You get the computers, get the kids logged in, have them sitting on the side of the room with the signal and when the kids get to the website that you tried at home it does not work the same as in school. Or you are worried that the students are going to go off on their own and get into some kind of trouble. Or you just are not as confident using the new tool as using your old tools. It can be scary to be in front of a class risking total failure.
What's stopping you? What obstacles do teachers have in your place? What do you do to work around these?