Technology has undoubtedly been the most overlooked part of the education system. While most parents emphasize pursuing STEM fields, surprisingly, there is little to no technology exposure in our schools. There have been many reasons for this, including lack of trained teachers, limited funds, lack of infrastructure, etc. But with the COVID pandemic still looming large over the country, schools have been forced to go online.
It brought about a much-needed influx of technology into the school system. However, there is still a multitude of issues that need to be addressed. It is not enough that schools go online; we need to find solutions for the problems brought on by the use of technology in education so that schools will be able to implement its use in post COVID times successfully. This is essential for the benefits of students & towards raising the standard of education.
Resistance to change
Teachers who have been teaching for decades using the traditional methods are generally reluctant to incorporate technology into their classrooms. The main reason for this is a psychological factor called the ‘Comfort Zone’ – we are all very comfortable with what is familiar and resist change.
The traditional way of teaching has become a routine for them year after year. Changing this routine is unfamiliar and discomforting. There is also the fact the teacher may or may not be proficient with using technology. In the latter case, it is a significant hindrance to including technology in the classroom, as the teachers themselves do not know how to use it. Yet, they are expected to teach with it. Thus, teachers and school administrations find themselves reluctant to go through the trouble of introducing technology into their curriculum.
Teachers also feel that technology is complicated and time-consuming to set up, which cuts into lesson time.
Technology will not replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will replace those who do not. – Unknown
Lack of funds and infrastructure
It is no secret that equipment and devices cost a lot. Purchasing and installing them on a large scale can be an expensive affair. Most schools lack the funds to implement these changes. Devices also become outdated in about two-five years. It is unrealistic for schools to be investing in instruments every two years. If students are required to bring their own devices to school, it brings a different set of problems to the table. The difference in capabilities among the other devices or the sheer variety of it may make it difficult for the teacher to assign tasks. Also, students come from diverse economic and social backgrounds. Every student may not be able to afford a personal device of learning.
Good Internet connection is a necessity for tech in education. This aspect is especially troublesome for schools, as high-speed internet can be expensive to install and maintain in some geographies (India though is one with the lowest costs globally). Even then, it is susceptible to factors like location, weather, overuse, etc.
Digital tools need to be open and easy to use for a large number of students and teachers. At the same time, they need to protect the students and keep their data safe. It is a tricky line to maneuver, as hackers and viruses keep advancing day by day.
Teachers have the added responsibility of keeping students safe online, which they are still learning to navigate. It can be tough to regulate or control the content that children view online and to make sure that they do not have any adverse interactions amongst themselves or with unknown persons.
Children will need training in cyber safety and safe online practices. This will again cost time and money, which schools find difficult to spare.
Aligning technology with curriculum
There is not much consensus on the effectiveness of tech in the classroom. Some teachers feel that students are more distracted than stimulated by it; others think that it solves way too many problems for the children, robbing them of learning. Tools like calculators and spell check and grammar are always running in the background. Thus the student does not get a chance to work on his or her skills.
We need to design the extent and ends to which technology is to be used in the classroom. It needs to be aligned and incorporated into the classroom curriculum so that teachers have a metric to assess and judge the student’s performance.
Although incorporating technology in education may create a vast number of problems and challenges for the school system and students initially, it is still a tool capable of creating exciting and innovative learning opportunities from day one and for the long term. With institutional support and well-planned execution of a tech inclusive curriculum, students can benefit from using technology in the classroom. A significant part of successful implementation is support and training for teachers. They need to lead the way for children, which is not possible if they are not equipped with the tools and skills they need.
“Integrating technology with face-to-face teacher time generally produces better academic outcomes than employing either technique alone.” – Edutopia