Challenges of implementing technology in schools
The 21st century continues to change faster than we can imagine. The immersive media have created learning communities that communicate and collaborate across the globe. The world has become highly interconnected and complex. The internet, with its enormous learning resources, feeds people’s hunger for knowledge. What remains to be checked is – “Can we use this new-age information repository to teach school students?” Needless to say, there are several challenges to implementing technology in schools.
The challenges of implementing technology can be broadly classified into:
Misconceptions about technology
Lack of awareness in the minds of stakeholders, including investors or owners of schools, parents, teachers and students, has created a lot of misconceptions about technology and its crucial need in the teaching-learning process. School owners need to realize that technology is and can be a comprehensive tool for an effective management of the school. Technology is not only for teaching-learning but also for better communication and administration, and it can be customized to suit individual needs.
Parents need to realize that new trends in education have their benefits, whether with or without technology. By and large, success in education still means a report card with a score of more than 90 per cent in almost every subject. The system of education in our country itself is responsible to a large extent, and yet, change is slowly coming about. The change might be visible in urban areas, but mass acceptance is yet a far-reaching dream.
The teaching community probably poses the main challenge. Many teachers may perceive technology as a threat to their importance or even their recognition. They must realize that technology will help students only when they will be used effectively. Teachers must not only learn to use technology but also keep inventing, practicing, and re-discovering new ways to make the best use of technology in teaching/learning.
Students are facing an even bigger challenge than their parents and teachers do. For them, the Internet offers a vast repository of knowledge. However, it needs to be in tune with their specific needs. Without sufficient guidance, they find themselves at a loss while looking for information on the web. In fact, sometimes, they may be misguided, too! They need wise guides, skilled facilitators and competent mentors to keep them on the right track.
Understanding the need for implementing technology
Digital gaming, the virtual world of connectivity to the universe, simulation, virtual manipulative, MySpace, Facebook, and so on … the unlimited power of the digital era seems to be sweeping GenNext. Technology is an integral part of the lives of kids of the new millennium. Educators, therefore, will have to find ways of harnessing this power to create a better tomorrow for today’s students. Technology-enabled education—which can stimulate critical thinking, logical reasoning, and problem-solving, and hone the skills of application, analysis, and synthesis—will equip our youth with cutting-edge traits. The children of today cannot prepare for their future with the tools of the past. The way interactive boards have replaced the old style of chalk and blackboard, learning styles and environments also need to be interactive, innovative and thought-provoking for the digital generation. Technology is a must; it is no longer a choice. The faster we accept it, the easier it would be for educators.
Affordability and provision of adequate technology for all
Financial implications are probably the biggest barrier for any school to adopt technology, especially if it is a large set-up. Even if a school is willing to adopt technology, it needs to allocate sufficient resources to ensure that technology-enabled education is a meaningful support for its teachers and students.
Therefore, everybody, including school managements, must accept the fact that a specific provision for technology must become a regular feature of their budget.
Technophobia – preparing for adapting to change
Although it exists among all the stakeholders in the education sector, technophobia is more a mental barrier than a technical hurdle. Scepticism, a fear of incompatibility, and probably a lack of motivation or even incentive are the root cause of the inertia, especially when it comes to adopting technology in the classroom-based teaching/learning.
Ironically, we seem to have accepted, even welcomed, the advent of technology in every other spheres of life. Did we not learn to operate the latest version of mobile technology? Are we not comfortable with internet banking, and online purchases? We thank technology for making it possible to book flight or train tickets online. Most of us now carry e-tickets while travelling. Why, then, is technology in education a phobia? It can be easily overcome by becoming learners. It is an indisputable fact that technology can never replace a good teacher. It will always remain a tool that will be effective only in the hands of an efficient teacher. Teachers need to see continuous change and growth as part of their profession.