Technology is not guaranteed, even though we are teaching in what is known as 21st-Century classrooms. There is a digital divide that impacts many students and schools. The digital divide is the difference in access to technology and lack thereof. Lack of proper infrastructure and access to high speed Internet is a huge concern. Without updated infrastructures and increasing access to high speed Internet, technology integration is hard. There are many obstacles and barriers that stand in the way of technology integration other than access. The good news is that research says, "Most literacy teachers (86%) believe there are large (46%) or moderate (40%) benefits to using technology in instruction. Most reported having internet access in their schools (98%) and in their classrooms (86%)." (National Survey, n.d.) Research says the bad news is that "only 29% see technology as central to instruction. Most (67%) see it as supplemental to instruction. When asked, “What do you think it looks like to integrate technology into literacy instruction?,” about 38% of teachers described uses of the computer as presentation tools." (National Survey, n.d.)
There are many obstacles when it comes to using and integrating technology in the classroom. These include:
Money can either be a barrier or a solution to integrating technology depending on your situation. Lack of funding is an obstacle that can sometimes be nearly impossible to overcome. However, if technology becomes important to the right people, especially administrators, there seems to be ways to find the money. (10 Barriers, n.d.) Lack of money can also be directly linked to the digital divide. Not only does infrastructure take money to update, but so does providing technology.
Lack of Professional Development
The lack of Professional Development can act as a barrier. Many teachers feel unprepared to learn about technology and integrate it in their classrooms. Technology can make many things easier and more efficient for both the teacher and the student. If teachers have limited to no skills on training for technology use for educational purposes, students are also going to miss out on these skills. (Ramey, 2013)
Resistant to Change/Time
Change is hard and change takes time. Many people can become stuck in their ways and refuse to change especially when there is no instant gratification. It is harder to stay on course when change takes an investment of time. Even though using technology in the classroom always requires a lot of time at the beginning, students will always need help, it pays off in the long run. It is easy for teachers to come up with excuses as to why they don't use technology in the classroom, especially with the fear of technology replacing teachers. (Ramey, 2013)
Lack of Innovation
Using technology requires creativity. Some people learn fairly easily and others have to take a significant amount of time to learn about technology tools and how to integrate technology into classrooms. Technology is ever changing. This means learning never stops. (Ramey, 2013) It may seem at times that just as you get the hang of something, there is a new and better way to do it which requires you to start all over in a sense. That can be challenging for those who take longer to master using and integrating technology.
There are more barriers that both students and teachers face when it comes specifically to writing in First Grade. Some First Graders come with experience using some technology and some have no experience whatsoever. The range of ability from the start is so wide that it can be a challenge to meet the needs of all learners in the beginning. As with most things, the introduction process can be lengthy and slow. Using partners can work in situations like this. The student with more experience can teach another student. Also, many First Grade students can't read. That can really limit the tools that can be used. It requires a lot of teacher directed use. This can take away from the efficient and effective use of technology.
There are many ways to integrate technology in writing. Due to the age and experience of my students, most everything I teach starts with the basics. From teaching what a sentence is to writing a complete story. Parts of speech, using correct grammar, and punctuation are also a few of the challenging topics that I teach. Again, when it comes to technology, I have to teach all of the basics, from knowing how to turn a device on, to typing and then to publishing stories. It seems overwhelming at the beginning. The willingness to change and learn something new is a commitment, but one that is worth while. Introducing how to use simple apps that teach about grammar, adjectives, nouns and sight words is the easier obstacle to tackle. Typing stories and publishing is something that requires a lot more patience and time to teach. Writing with pencil and paper can be hard enough for a First Grade student, so adding technology increases the difficulty. I do feel like I have an advantage for a couple of reasons. I am taking classes directly related to technology which provides me with many tools and ideas for technology integration. I also have an interest in learning more about ways to integrate technology into all content areas, not just writing. Even with all the barriers and obstacles, doing what I can to overcome them will benefit my students and myself. It's a win-win.
Ramey, K. (2013, December 19). Barriers To The Effective Use of Technology In Education. Retrieved from http://www.useoftechnology.com/barriers-effective-technology-education/
Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2011, November 16). The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption. Retrieved from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/10-barriers-technology-adoption
National survey of literacy teachers examines obstacles to bringing more technology into classrooms. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ernweb.com/educational-research-articles/technology-integration-classrooms-literacy-professional-development-obstacles-survey/