Challenges of Implementing Technology in Schools
The 21st century continues to change at a rate faster than we can imagine. The immersive media has created learning communities that communicate and collaborate across the globe. The world has become highly interconnected and complex. Internet with its enormous learning resources feeds the hunger for knowledge. What remains to be checked is – “Are we ready for the change?” The answer seems to be a big “No.”
The challenges of implementing technology can be broadly classified into:
Misconceptions about technology
The lack of awareness in the minds of stakeholders like investors or owners of schools, parents, teachers and students has created lot of misconceptions about technology and its crucial need in the present times. Implementing technology for effective teaching-learning process means more than merely steaching basic computer skills and software programs in a computer class.
Investors need to realise that technology is and can be a comprehensive tool for effective management of a school. Technology is not only for teaching-learning, but also for better communication and administration, and it can be customised to suit individual needs.
Parents need to realise 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 dream.
The teaching community probably poses the main challenge. Teachers, especially the good ones, may perceive technology as a threat to their importance or even their recognition. They must realise that technology will help students only when used effectively. Teachers must not only learn to use technology, but also keep inventing, practising and re-discovering new strategies. This needs time beyond school hours. A school, especially an old set-up, needs to change the mind-set of its teachers.
Students are facing an even bigger challenge than parents and teachers. For them, the Internet offers a vast platform of knowledge. However, it needs to be in tune with their specific needs. Without sufficient guidance, they find themselves at a loss when 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 Ikids 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 that can stimulate critical thinking, logical reasoning and problem-solving, and hone the skills of application, analysis and synthesis will prepare our youth for competitive 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 from its funds to ensure that technology-enabled education is a meaningful support for teachers and students.
It is very important for investors to appreciate that for a significant impact of technology on learning, regular use by both teachers and learners is essential. Adequate technology support systems are also essential.
Infrastructure includes hardware, network and operating systems, Internet connectivity, software, maintenance, and upkeep. It costs money to install technology-enabled content, conduct intensive training for teachers and support staff, get upgrades, monitor usage, and carry out regular maintenance.
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 stake-holders 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 when it comes to adopting technology as part of our classroom life.
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 and payments? 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.
Technology is a boon if its properly used and can be a handicapped if it’s perceived as a hurdle. But teachnology in education sector must always adapt to the audience it is catering to. We, at Next Education, are partners in this paradigm shift in education sector.