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I know that all tools are technically technology. However, for the purpose of this post, I’m thinking computers, tablets and mobile devices. This is not a comprehensive list and I admit that it’s limited entirely to my own experiences and my own local context:

#1: Fear
Implementing new technology can be frightening on so many levels. Whether it’s a fear of letting go of control or a sense that one doesn’t have the right skills or a concern about digital footprint, privacy or cyber-bullying, many teachers are simply scared.

#2: Low Self-Efficacy
When I did my Master’s research, I believed that professional development needed address skills and motivation. I wanted teachers to see that technology could be a positive thing. What I found, however, was that they were motivated and somewhat skilled. What they lacked was a belief in their own ability to create tech-integrated lessons.

#3: Testing
To me, this is the biggest barrier. Teachers see quality, tech-integrated strategies. They know that these strategies work. They’ve seen it in action. And yet . . . the test is drill-and-kill, multiple choice. So, teachers find themselves pulling back due to the inconsistencies of teaching and assessment.

#4: Consumerism
In many cases, teachers themselves have only used computers for entertainment and social interaction. Often, this comes from a consumerist mentality. Books, no matter how poor the quality, might be escapist, but they are seen as “good escape” because “at least people are reading.” This is because reading is viewed culturally as educational while all things techie tend to be viewed culturally as entertainment.

#5: Lack of Leadership
When principals worry more about managing liability than pushing for change, technology becomes an easy scapegoat. What if they break it? What if they see inappropriate sites? What if they bully one another on Facebook? It becomes a hassle and to a busy or worried administrator, it’s sometimes easier to create anti-technology policies in the name of safety.

#6: Inconsistent Paradigms
I see teachers who say, “What am I supposed to do with eight computers?” or “How should I manage multiple devices?” And yet, the same teachers will do learning centers or use eight sheets of chart paper and have kids work in groups. Teachers worry about off-task behavior online and yet kids pass notes frequently.

#7: Personal Experience
Certain teachers are comfortable with instructional strategies that match what they did growing up. Something as simple as a blog or social media sound extreme because they are different. If teachers themselves have never used these tools in their free time and schools haven’t used these in professional development, the tools will always seem strange.

#8: Humility.
It takes a certain level of humility to say, “my non-tech approach is wrong and maybe I need to consider technology.”

#9: It’s Optional
I am not a fan compliance-driven leadership. However, in a culture of compliance, some teachers will only do what leaders mandate them to do. So, technology isn’t required. Somehow, we treat it as if it’s a matter of personal choice in a way that we would never do with pedagogy. Someone is still allowed to be a “good teacher” and use virtually no technology whatsoever. Failure isn’t an option, but irrelevance is. Somehow we’ve screwed up our priorities. Somehow we’ve allowed teacher comfort level to drive what we use with students.

#10: Lack of Technology
With recent budget cuts, schools aren’t investing in technology. I’m hoping this will change with the movement toward digital textbooks (not a fan of textbooks, period, but it’s at least a new device) and bring-your-own-device programs. However, I fear that those can be a cop-out. We need to invest in quality technology. We need to make it a policy priority.

#11: Lack of Research
There is solid research out there regarding some tech-integrated strategies. However, Larry Cuban is right in suggesting that computers have been oversold and underused. Part of this comes from the utopian hype of technophiles who convince teachers that a SmartBoard will cure leprosy and an iPod will turn water into wine. Another part of it comes from a lack of communication. We’re not sharing the research well enough with the broader community of teachers.

I’m a computer and photojournalism teacher with extensive experience in technology coaching, along with keynotes and workshops. If you would like me to work with a staff on the journey of technology integration, you can contact me at [email protected]

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John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.More about me


  • Mr. P. says:

    I think the geek culture doesn't help. We have this mentality that techies are geeks and that you have to be all-in, balls-to-the-wall, if you're going to use technology. That mentality of leaving it to the geeks does more harm than good, IMHO.

    • Interesting point. I hadn't thought about the geek culture. And, by the way, you might be the first person to ever use the term "balls-to-the-wall" on this blog. Seriously.

    • Tom Panarese says:

      Yeah, there does seem to be an almost cult-like mentality that results in those who only want to dip their toes in the water feeling that they're being reprimanded for not doing enough.

    • It can turn into a cutting-edge contest. I'm just not that cutting edge.

    • PollyLindley says:

      Also I think some Learning management systems aren't configured to their best advantage. Teachers try to use tools like blogs or online testing but it takes a long time and the process is so convoluted they end up not bothering.

    • Remember that what lies on the edge is a matter of perspective; what you're doing IS cutting-edge to many teachers, even if, from your perspective, it's not.

    • davesgud says:

      Infrastructure! As soon as you have planned a lesson and the technology fails you feel so deflated and flustered. If infrastructure was more reliable then technology would be more readily used.

    • @quianonaudemus: Interesting that you mention it being cutting edge. I rarely feel like that.

      @davesgud: Infrastructure is a huge deal and one that schools still don't take as seriously as they need to. Too often, it feels like we get Ferraris but we are stuck driving them in a school zone.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some educators may be concerned that increased use of "technology" in education may have untoward effects, such as shorter attention spans and reduced skill levels in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

    • Penelope says:

      I love your Ferrari analogy.

      The lack of good infrastructure and technology in the school is key for me. Not so long ago I was overjoyed that we got laptop carts and smartboards and generally started to have more accessible tech in our building. I came up with all kinds of ways to use them in my class. Yet the various issues and the lack of -maintenance- provided have made me stop using a lot of the tools because they simply aren't worth the hassle. When our laptops barely last 1 period I have 3 in a row but we can't plug them in separate from the cart, it's hard to plan to use them for anything.

  • Michelle says:

    I agree with these points. I worked for 8 years in technology professional development in a fairly large school district. Saw a lot of what you described above.

    I would add a couple of things: some people need to *see* how teaching and learning with tech can transform learning. Unfortunately, most teachers aren't given TIME to learn more about this. Many who are "unconnected" have no resources of how to make this work, either. Also, lots of "spray and pray" PD, with little to no time or support given after. This results in low tech use or simply substituting a tech component for an older method, e.g., using an IWB as a projection screen. (not that I'm a fan of IWBs, but I see that in most places)

    • I think the need to "see" it is critical. The early adopters need to convey the honest reality of the pros and cons to those who haven't tried it yet.

    • jsb16 says:

      This. Everyone needs time to learn, whether it's a nine year old learning a new math concept or a forty year old learning a new technology/pedagogy. Most PD (including individually reading blogs/Twitter/Facebook/Marzano/etc.) is still "teaching by telling" and doesn't come with coaching/modeling/mentoring. Teachers who are expected to get five parent phone calls, classroom maintenance, grading, photocopying, and a trip to the restroom in one or two 45 minute periods don't have exploration time if the school culture sees student-contact time as a performance that needs to be perfect lest test scores fall/children be irreparably damaged.

    • I'm with you there. It takes time and we're not doing enough to give people the time to tinker around.

    • Anon says:


      I really want to see the issue of time come back to the education blogosphere. Several years go, it seemed like everyone recognized that the limiting factor had become time — it takes time to re-write curriculum for new standardized tests and curriculum standards/topics. It takes time to incorporate technology. It takes time to differentiate. It takes time to build relationships with students. For me, "A Mathematician's Lament" by Lockhart (definitely worth reading, Google it) was the pinnacle of this movement: we're trying to teach so much math in so little time that most students end up never truly grokking /any/ math.

      Then, the economy tanked and state education funding tanked and Race to the Top, 1:1 iPads, NCLB's 100%-passing standards, Rhee, charter schools…

      And we all forgot that, when we get down to brass tacks, it's a deficit of time that holds us back.

    • The time issue is huge. We spend nearly a quarter of our time in my district taking standardized tests. It can feel depressing.

  • alicegop says:

    PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT is undervalued. Too often teachers are given tech (or think they might want to use it) but have no idea. They need support and solid pedagogy for how to use the tech not just the tech device itself.

    • We don't have enough job-embedded PD and we aren't using the coaching model to its fullest potential. I think those are two things that we ought to consider in PD. But even on a simpler level, offering differentiated PD would be helpful, or classes that lasted an entire quarter.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is really important: too many one-day workshops with no continuing support, no mentoring/coaching, no discipline-specific strategies, no venues for collaboration that could last beyond the session.

    • I think that's why coaching can be powerful if it's done the right way.

  • Tom Panarese says:

    I think under fear there can be added something to the effect of the fear of the students not actually "learning" what you want, or the fear of "wasted time," or the fear of "stupid, immature crap." I have lost count of the number of times I have had a group working on computers and an admin has walked into the room/lab and asked why student X is playing a game, looking at a video, or surfing the web and why I haven't reprimanded him/her for doing so. Other times, I have dealt with a symphony from the "stuck keys" noise on the computer, students drawing penises in MS Paint, and KKK images as iPad wallpapers. Not wanting to deal with this hassle is enough for a teacher to head to the photocopier for grammar worksheets.

    • I love your reminder of the management side of this. It's sometimes easier to just step away from this rather than deal with the x-rated artist or the hate speech wallpaper creator.

    • Tom Panarese says:

      And I'm not trying to be cynical here or anything — it's just that if you're trying a piece of technology or a lesson that involves particular pieces of technology for the first time and you're not sure it's going to work, having to plan around all of those things can be an immediate turn-off, especially to someone who may have started off hesitant in the first place.

    • I don't think that's being cynical. That's the reality we experience as teachers.

    • I like your point about the fear of wasted time. We often discuss the "fear of technology" but in many cases, its the teacher's apprehension or worry about unproductive time in the classroom because of an earlier negative experience. So much is packed into the curriculum and the amount of data we are to collect that we feel as though there is not time for innovative exploration using strategies that are novel for the teacher.

  • John, I'm not sure you've captured me in this list. I use technology personally, but feel like a slow learner with anything new. I would like to use tech more in the classroom, but often get stymied. Just using the computer projection facilities in my classroom involves signing in with a password I use little, and often get wrong. Other things go wrong with this system, too. Also, whenever I try to use geogebra to demonstrate a concept, I get stuck not being able to get it to do what I want. I have done computer programming, so I'm on the high end of tech competence, and yet…

    • The failure and inconsistency of equipment is a huge one. In our district, the issue of slow and spotty wireless internet has been enough to make one's head explode. You're not alone in being highly competent but running into issues when it's not your own equipment, software, etc.

    • Tom Panarese says:

      I do the yearbook completely online and there are plenty of days where the internet has completely crashed because it's been raining or something. Of course, then it becomes homework b/c deadlines don't care about internet outages.

    • @educatoral says:

      Older failing computers coupled with network connecting difficulties on top of filters blocking useful sites due mainly to limited bandwidth issues have crippled teachers in my building. There was a time when a few teachers attended tech integration training and were going to help other teachers in my building integrate tech as well. Once the tech problems overwhelmed they scaled back on integrating tech and all tech trainings in my building came to a halt. This more than anything has slowed our building down. We are a small staff and can support each other with the other reasons for not using tech. This one has been a tough one for me when we have only one permanent tech support person for our whole district. He's spread way too thin and this new network has made the rest of us who used to be able to provide tech support no longer as useful as we used to be.

    • The spotty internet is a real headache, though. I can't imagine any "business" being allowed to run that way. It's pretty awful at times.

  • Jules says:


    Another reason–so often the tech tools are packaged as "fun." And while I do have a great time in my classes, and students often tell me my class is "fun," it's because of how I teach, my passion for the subjects, it's how I push students to do things (mostly writing) they thought they couldn't do because years of previous teachers told them they were stupid, or that I make them think in a way that makes them realize they ARE smart!

    This word, "fun," can be interpreted as a synonym for "not learning." After all, when I read an educational research kind of book, I'm not necessarily having fun. I'm learning, and I get excited and invigorated and giddy about what kinds of changes I can make in my classroom. But fun, for me, is watching a movie or going to a concert–it's entertainment. And I feel like every so often the conversation in educational circles gets back to an idea that we aren't teachers, we're entertainers…which devalues the profession to a degree and could explain some hesitation on implementing tech.

    So it comes down to basic semantics and how people interpret the word "fun." Or its sophisticated cousin "engaging." Rant over. 🙂

    • I think you have a point in your rant. Often the software isn't just marketed as fun, but as a replacement for something that's actually better. In other words, an app is written by someone who knows what kids enjoy but has no idea what is pedagogically sound. That's a real issue. And the amusement culture plays into this in ways that drive deep thinkers crazy.

  • Helena says:

    When learners come from traditional learning backgrounds, an educator also needs the right attributes and skills to help them overcome their prejudices and to persuade them that implementing some new technologies, whenever appropriate, is for their own educational benefit.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sometimes teachers don't use technology because students shouldn't be using it. Sometimes paper and pencil are better. Don't be so quick to dismiss people as out-of-touch. The most relevant thing to do might just be to turn off the devices.

    • Michelle says:

      But that is exactly the problem… as a teacher of grades 3/4, my students are immersed in activities that are a mixture of no tech, low tech, and high tech. Each learning situation is unique, as are the kids. Sometimes I have kids working on a similar activity, but each of them chooses how to create a product that demonstrates their learning. They have the options of what works best for them. As their teacher, I should be comfortable with no tech or high tech, regardless.

      I believe that balance is essential, but too many people argue "balance" by mentioning "paper pencil." We need both. John's post states exactly that. I also have known teachers who never turned ON the devices. That's just as harmful.

      From my own experience, I've worked in education for over 20 years, but I've also worked in the private sector. Not ONCE was I ever asked to create a project without technology. Best to keep these things in perspective when we want our kids to live in their world, not ours.

      One last suggestion… it's easier to continue a conversation when you do not hide behind the anonymity option.

    • Thanks for standing up for me, Michelle. Nicely put. It has to be a hybrid approach.

    • Kathy says:

      I agree with this! There is an interesting school that I heard about though that is in Silicon Valley where most of the parents there are involved in some aspect of tech…but the school uses absolutely none. Their test scores and achievement have not been hampered. I saw the segment on CNN news for kids while using my projector to watch it:) Interesting discussions with my 7th graders ensued. They eventually reached consensus with Michelle.

  • Anonymous says:

    My favorite line was "Failure isn't an option, but irrelevance is." I think that captures the mentality of the testing culture.

  • In Peru what happens is that many schools have implemented technology. However, they have not trained their teachers that's why teachers' use of technology is limited to showing ppt's or videos.

    • It looks like Peru isn't all that different from the U.S. in that respect.

    • Beth Berens says:

      I agree with Cecilia Rosas. Many teachers are simply not trained well enough on the technology. It's great when educational tech companies focus, not just on selling products, but also on training their end users on how to use their products and teach applications for using their products.

    • Beth, how do tech companies ensure that their trainers know pedagogy as well as devices and apps? I haven't seen enough of that in my experience.

  • I just finished being a co-facilitator for a two week introduction to iPads. Needless to say we had those that jumped right in to those that had every excuse under the sun. Some of the more popular ones were: 1) it takes too much time 2) we're not preparing them for the business world. Both teachers were shown alternatives to their current methods and refused to change. I really wondered why they came especially since this was not mandatory PD. What I walked away with was no matter the age some people are only comfortable living in the past and what they perceive the present to be.
    Being the oldest person in the room really helped those that wanted to learn because if someone like me could do it and share both my successes and failures so could they.

    • I love the point you bring up that the overly cautious mentality isn't just an age issue. I think people miss that with the "digital native" myth.

    • I hope you were—but fear you weren't–joking about the 'we're not preparing them for the business world' comment. It's true, schools should never be thought of as merely farm teams for the business world, but we are preparing them for unknown futures where they should have the internal resources to enter any field they so choose.

      And it's ludicrous to equate technology and tech devices with just the business world; tech is one of the things that connects every way of life and work. Sending students in the world without tech skills is bad enough, but worse still is not adequately teaching them how to use technology in socially and morally appropriate ways.

    • I think there's some nuance there. We are preparing them for the business world, but we are preparing them for so much more. We're preparing them for life.

  • Frank Vitale says:

    Nice Post John.

    I think Lack of Leadership, particularly at the building level, allows many of the other reasons listed to fester and take hold. It certainly can allow use of technology to be "Optional", teachers to "Fear" change, and all to be worried about the "Testing". Often, it ends up being much easier to fall back on what you are charitably calling Personal Experience.

    • This is why I get excited when I see principals embrace great ideas along with technology. I don't think they have to be techies, but they have to be open to it.

    • Becky Bair says:

      I absolutely agree with Frank here. When administration doesn't use technology, complains about the technolog they do use (Ugh – all I get are notifications that I have ANOTHER google doc) or have the "tech is fun" mindset, it's really challenging to move forward with actually using technology for learning. Particularly in districts where tech support is seen as a budget line item that can be cut, I think it's ridiculously important to have administrators who are leaders in using technology and teachers who are allowed to be leaders for the faculty.

    • Getting past the "tech is fun" or "tech is amusement" paradigm can be hard for both teachers and administrators.

    • Becky Bair says:

      And extremely frustrating when you and your class are trying to use the limited tech for projects and other people have the carts signed out for "free choice time" or because they have a sub that day and didn't feel like doing plans.

  • Great post! It´s obvious that blended learning is winning fans around the globe forcing teachers to sit up and take note, don´t ya think? Teachers who support a sustainable approach to teaching and learning, understand the value of tech. I have a green meter in my virtual classroom and it´s continually counting the number of miles we save each lesson. It´s highly motivating. I don´t want to work under the constraints of a staid education system. Tech allows teachers to break free and connect with students in new and exciting ways. As a teacher I want to work in the country, with a herb garden, a dog, and my own personal high tech teaching/learning studio. That´s what motivates me.

    • "As a teacher I want to work in the country, with a herb garden, a dog, and my own personal high tech teaching/learning studio."

      Me, too. Though I'll add a novel or two to the mix along with my kids playing and my wife by my side 😉

  • I have encountered educators and leaders who possess many or all of these stumbling blocks in their repertoire of excuses to not get on the eLearning/digital/tech bus. But the biggest one always seems to be fear – fear of the unknown, fear that they will be accountable for everything that happens (the teachable moments!) and fear most of all that they will lose control because the students know more than them. I think there is a real need to demystify this for teachers and school leaders so that there is a real shift in thinking to 'we are all teachers and we are all learners' in every classroom and school. Once this occurs, we have less resistance and fear. Teachers and leaders need to exit their own schools and visit schools who have managed this paradigm shift in practice, not just in theory. And I don't mean the BEST schools or the MODEL schools, I mean the ones that are on a journey and are making mistakes but are running with the excitement of change.

  • Scott McLeod says:

    Breaking out #5 (Lack of Leadership) in further detail, here are some more for you:

    Most problems with individuals actually are problems with the systems within which they're embedded. Who's in charge of educational systems? Administrators and legislators…

    "If the leaders don't get, it's not going to happen"

  • Anonymous says:

    My hesitation in jumping on the tech bandwagon is the cost involved. Some costs are easy to calculate (hardware, software, etc.), and some are very difficult (PD to facilitate its use), but overall, I expect that the most frustrating expense, and perhaps the greatest, will be upgrades. It's hard to imagine students (or schools) upgrading their platforms every year or two for an added expense of $300-$800 per child (I'm thinking iPads here). Since the dawn of civilization (and ever before) tech has facilitated class differentiation; haves from have-nots. Are we going to be making access to education even more challenging? I use my iPad in the classroom. It lets me move about the room and still have access to the projector for sketches, photos, spelling examples, web access, videos, etc. in this way it brings many benefits to the classroom but does not require every student to have one.
    BTW, your blog platform is not terribly iPad friendly.

    • I think you're right. The cost factor is important, but so is the myth that we can't use older machines. That's the power of webtools, open source and Linux. We need to rethink that. As far as format, not much I can do. It's how Blogger has it set up. I might try and switch to a more minimalist style.

  • doyle says:

    Dear John,

    Good list. I think until we figure out what in blazes we're trying to accomplish in school, though, no technology will work as effectively as we hope.

    Until we figure that out, though, a few thoughts:

    1) Infrastructure (and the software available) often sucks. Bigtime. Until the folks in charge learn enough not to get suckered by every shiny colored folder promising great things, or until administrators learn to trust open source, this will remain a problem, BUT….

    2) If teachers acted as professionals, and took the time to learn how to use the tools (and no amount of PD can replace simply screwing around with a program), the admins will be forced to suckle from the big vendors who promise (*cough*) support.

    3) Criminy, these are tools, but too many of us can't even use a pencil effectively in a classroom, and the e-tech stuff just amplifies our incompetencies. (Is that a word?)

    Keep writing, keep pushing us.

    • I think you hit on three critical points. A major part of that, too, comes from a lack of good teaching. It's not always an issue of theory meeting technology. Sometimes the good strategies are simply missing. I also think you're onto something with people owning their own learning. I didn't know Linux, but I learned it so that I could transform some old, crappy computers and make them run quickly.

    • doyle says:

      Linux is accessible and cheap, and few people in public ed will even consider it. OpenOffice works fine, old 'puters hum, and the kids get to learn how to tweak.

      Don't get me started.

    • It's counterintuitive to people, but a desktop on Linux might just work better for some tasks than an iPad. It's not as pretty, true. And the programs aren't all web-based. But they work really well.

  • With the big vendors pushing the idea of tech friendly "textbooks" and resources along with the prof dev side of using their products, I can honestly say I am NOT impressed. The two big publishers tout "easy to use" and "tech newbie friendly" but we, using the purchased products, have found those to be two of the biggest lies we were sold. It seems like a great idea to have it all "packaged", but in the end, it's the same thing paper textbooks are–a lot of resources, little direction in how to use effectively, and those of us tech savy enough on our own create our own curriculum anyways. The PD portion–insufferable sessions of "how to log into and move through the program." No actual REAL technology use or implementation, except how to use their program components. And this pushes those teachers on the edge of using technology completely off of it once again.

    • I'm not crazy about the new textbooks or the vendors, but as a teacher, if I get to choose between a glossy and misleading American History book or an iPad with said book, I'm going with the iPad.

  • ICT PD in schools needs to focus on the pedagogy rather than the technology – countless programs world wide have failed to make any increase in the use of technology in the classroom as they have focused on the number of machines per student – rather than showing teachers how powerful and effective pedagogy can be supported by technology. Technology for technology's sake does not result in better student outcomes.

  • Steve says:

    #12 Stubbornness from teachers who don't believe they should change or adapt their teaching methods. "This is how I was taught as a student, this is how I was taught to teach, and I don't see a reason to change."

  • As technology coordinator for my school and avid tech user in my 4th grade classroom, I struggle with getting teachers to integrate technology. The number one excuse is "I don't have enough computers." It is not about the number of computers, it is about using the right tools and having a system in place.

    One of my favorite sites is JogNog. My students use this site in my classroom. I was so impressed that I shared it through social media platforms. Now, I have the opportunity to work with them part-time after school in the area of social media promotions.

    This site is an online learning experience where students answer questions on all subject areas. As they answer questions, they build a virtual city.

    This site also saves time for teachers. JogNog Quick Quiz allows you to create an online quiz in literally 60 seconds or less. This video will show you how. FYI, JogNog Quick Quiz is free!

    Teaching…My Calling

  • Mrs. Belyea says:

    The tinkering with technology time with some good facilitators who can answer questions or help a teacher get unstuck is what I see lacking in so many of the PDs with technology. I can't just "sit and get" something if I don't have some time to pay around with it, figure it out, and make applications for my classroom.

  • a PLMS Tiger says:

    How about time? We have so much on our plate these days – common core, state testing, building relationships with our students. When is there time to implement new tech tools? As much as I love the look on my students' faces when we do something "fun" (and fun is good when learning takes place),I find it takes a lot time to implement well.

    • The time factor is a valid one. However, I've found that there is often a learning curve where the time wasted in the beginning is made up for time saved in the long run. I can't claim it works well for all people. However, that's been my experience.

  • I think we often focused the WHAT and the HOW before the WHY – as Sinek reminds us – start with WHY.

  • richardajabu says:

    My experience was that the most fundamental reason Teachers weren't using technology was because of the systemic unreliability of tech in the schools. Teachers are busy. If they have to plan contingencies for both functioning and non-functioning tech then they end up doubling their planning workload which is already large and problematic. Tech infrastructure has to be robust and reliable if we want teachers to buy in.

    Closely related to that would be on-demand tech support. Teachers need to be able to pick up a phone and get the hardware/software support they need, when they need it. If there isn't prompt & accessible tech support, it's just that much harder to buy in.

    Similarly, #10 Lack of Technology, was nearer the top of my list than the bottom. Related to that was the ridiculous amount of red tape and delay before software and online resources would be approved & installed.

    In my experience, #1, #2 & #8 (Fear, Low Self-Efficacy & Humility) were insignificant compared to the more practical issues above.

    I am a strong proponent of Teachers as collegial professionals, and Teacher autonomy so I do not support many of the perspectives you expressed in #9 (It's Optional). In my experience, individual Teachers are best positioned to investigate and decide what works best in their classes.

    Thanks for sharing your list, John.

  • Sometimes when I go to an all you can eat buffet, it makes me loose my appetite. I would rather eat one piece(ok,two pieces)of really fine chocolate than consume bars upon bars of crappy chocolate. There is a lot of crap tech out there being touted as "change the world with a click".
    Overkill and hard to work through the buffet to find the quality chocolate.

    • I agree. Then again, there's a lot of non-tech crap out there: worksheets, workbooks from the teacher stores, pseudo-science in the name of multiple intelligences, incessant lectures, etc.

  • I love point number 6. You are so right! They balance all other things but cannot work out technology. We need to be better about sharing our ideas that work.

  • I believe a lot of teachers do not use technology in the classroom because of your reason #7 in this post. They grew up not using those things, so teachers use things they are familiar with and know work. I think a good workshop addressing these topics will help change some teachers' views about technology being incorporated into the classroom.

  • Software is expensive and doesn't run properly for a lot of different reasons. LMS platforms are extremely boring for students. Several on line pages run with JAVA or FLASH and it many underdeveloped countries computers are so old that they'll never be able to run any of these pages to learn English for example.
    We are spending more time solving technical problems, creating tutorials and teaching how to use every single page or tech tool that at the end we spend little time developing the content of our classes. There aren't many pages that show instructions in several languages for students who just started learning a language for example and need more instructions in their native language to feel more confident when working on their own with technology.

  • Anonymous says:

    If the school system doesn't have a systemic plan for technology integration – it is extremely difficult for individual schools to pull together effective technology plans that will connect system wide. School systems must invest in infrastructure, wireless connectivity, and have a plan in place for updating systems and hardware. Infrastructure, connectivity, and system updates coupled with educational software and professional development create an environment for success. If any piece is missing, educators become discouraged and in some cases integration into lesson planning is not worth the time.

    • I think you're onto something when bringing up systems thinking. The issues are often deeply systemic and yet we are only dealing with specific details. The systems need to be restructured.

  • Mike Byster says:

    As an educator, I believe it is very important to teach material that is important for the future of the students. Teachers should not be afraid of using technology in today's classroom (or even outside the classroom). While inventing my math and memory system Brainetics (, I wanted to focus on new subjects and innovative methods to teach. By teaching for the 21st century and using technology, I know students will be more prepared in the future. It seems like so many aspects of today’s society centers around the digital environment and teaching should ultimately be altered to adapt.

    Great article,

    Mike Byster
    Inventor of Brainetics, Educator, Author of Genius, Mathematician

  • DebbieFuco says:

    Thanks for your post, John. Working as an instructional technology specialist for the past nine years, I certainly agree with the points you have listed. PD should include how to design technology-enhanced lessons, not just tool use. Job-embedded, ongoing, differentiated professional development is essential, however, attitude is just as important. How one views their career as an educator seems to impact how seriously they approach staying as up-to-date as possible. I believe it is important to take responsibility for my own professional development, yet I know that not all people agree with this perspective. There are so many new applications being introduced everyday, it is impossible for school/district personnel to be everything to everyone. That's why the coaching/mentoring model is a great solution–supporting teachers to meet their goals, however, this needs to be an active rather than passive relationship on both sides. Taking the time to read blogs like this or participate in social media for professional purposes, could create a transformational shift in the attitude and thinking of many reluctant users.

    • I love how you've articulated the upside of coaching and mentoring. That has to be a part of it. However, that can often be expensive. How do we keep costs reasonable while still embracing coaching?

  • Freddy Nunez says:

    I love this post, and have shared it ad nauseum on Twitter. you make many valid points, but the one that strikes me the most is the leadership one, saying how administrators take the "easy way out" when it comes to the implementation of tech in the schools. I am an administrator and i have seen the value of tech in our education. If administrators do not embrace the change that drives student learning and achievement (where research shows that implementation of technology enhances student learning), then what service are they doing to students? Our leaders need to show the example to the other teachers that this will improve education.

  • Great post! I agree with all you have said, and would add another: technology advances. Technology changes so quickly, that teachers (in my experience) are hesitant to change their methodologies because they know that in our techno-fadoholic society, it is likely to be upgraded or changed quickly. What is cutting edge today, may be replaced within a very short time frame. We are a far cry from the time it took for the chalkboard to evolve to today's evolution of educational technology (or any technology!) to a matter of months!

    This is where your points on leadership and professional development are crucial. Not jumping on the bandwagon of whatever happens to be the latest craze is up to those who are in charge of technology and the administrators. Larry Cuban and David Tyack were correct in pointing out the importance of teacher buy-in for any type of reform in education. I would say that integrating technology is a type of reform, and one that is fraught with all the challenges you disccussed, as well as those challenges that come from a "here today, updated tomorrow" level of technology we have now.

    Thank you for this post! I will be linking to it, and using it for a workshop I am giving this month, if that is ok with you!

  • Anonymous says:

    So many great points!
    In the past six years, I have gone from not knowing how to send an email to using learning objects, learning management system, tablet pc research, interactive/collaborative software research, and now teaching in hybrid (mixed) mode. In my experience, the tool has to fit the need. As a math/science college teacher, pen-based computing is a required capability. The collaborative software used allows teachers to give 'control' of the teaching screen to students – for foundational students, a fantastic option. Further, students can sent slides to the teacher for immediate review – like having a hand-written back channel. If the focus is the student, admin, ITS and faculty can make it work.

  • This may have been posted already – so many comments on here but often teachers are not asked what type of tech they would like to use and the top down approach from many districts is an automatic turn off. As a techie myself, I also see the fear etc and the sheer overwhelmed feeling most teachers have. We already have to deal with new curriculum every year (yup five years and counting) and then throw tech into it, yikes…And finally, often we are given tech tools that don't really work. You will only waste so much time trying to get 23 students logged on to a network without success until you give up. Often districts spend the money on the flash; Smartboard in every room, but not on training, integration and proper wifi.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you should stop complaining and go out and do something about it. You could always start a kickstarter campaign. You can fix up old computers. This is typical teacher whining.

    • It's not whining, anonymous. It's a reality. The chaos and lack of consistency combined with the lack of infrastructure kills great lessons. It's easy to get turned off by it.

    • Thanks anonymous for your thoughtful comment, I was talking about things teachers run into, not my own classroom.

    • I think you hit on something important, though, Pernille. When a techie teacher points those things out there is an assumption we are simply complaining. However, even those of us who have pushed integration in our own contexts run into ridiculous barriers.

  • Becky Bair says:

    Another huge roadblock and a personal frustration of mine is the, "Well are you going to pay me to learn this?" attitude I hear from so many teachers. These same people will complain that their students are not motivated to do hours and hours of boring, worthless homework, yet they will not take the time to learn something new outside of school!

    Being a teacher isn't all about "what's in the contract" and working 7:45 – 3:45. It's about recognizing what you don't know, realizing the importance of continuing to learn, and modeling these things for our students.

    • I see your point, but I also think it's important that we pay teachers for their extra duty work. Many are already underpaid, overworked and forced into a place where they neglect personal priorities. The time factor can often be a valid excuse.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe it is time we start investing in education. Isn't the time issue really just a money issue? However, I continue to see teachers complain about merit pay. If you want more pay, why don't you try earning it like the rest of the world does?

    • panpan23 says:

      Oh, I am SO SORRY, Anonymous. I forgot that YOUR taxes pay MY salary!

      You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to write a pledge of allegiance to the local property taxpayer and ask my principal to have him make the entire faculty say it EVERY DAY so that we remember who so BENEVOLENTLY pays us.

      Thank you for your insight!!! It was innovative and I'M INSPIRED!!!


    • Becky Bair says:

      John, I agree that teachers should be paid for extra duty work. If the district is requiring it or expects it to be used then training and compensation should be provided. I'm more talking about that intrinsic motivation to continue to learn and grow. I would never expect my district to pay me for the time that I spend out side of school and in the summer when I am pursuing knowledge because I want to learn new things and improve my skills so I can give my students more / new opportunities in the classroom.

      Anonymous, it's a shame that you have hidden yourself. If you were to use your real name and location, I would love to invite you to join me for a week to follow my schedule or shadow a teacher in your area. If I were to track the hours I spent actually working at the required tasks or tasks that I complete to make myself a better teacher, both inside the building and after hours and on the weekend, I am fairly certain that you would find I work many more hours than you do and get paid less for them. Please to not chastise or insult if you are not at least willing to take part openly.

  • Aviva says:

    This might fit as a part of some of your other ideas, but I think "time" is a factor. I hear a lot that teachers say they don't have time to use these tools because there's too much curriculum to cover. They see technology as an add-on. I think that this is an important perspective to change.

    I really love this post of yours and all of the ideas in the comments as well! What a great discussion!

  • Adequate training!!!!!!! We forget once the gazillion dollars are spent, there must be someone to TRAIN educators to a level of proficiency!

  • @Anonymous, SHOW YOUR FACE!

  • Steve113 says:

    We just completed a survey of 100+ teachers and asked them: "What was their greatest challenge to being a great teacher?" The number one answer was "Motivating Students". A close second was: "Student behavioral issues". So your points make good sense that the technology can create even more control issues in class – more headaches for the teacher. So the technology needs to be simple and consistent.

    Your readers can get a free copy of the report and survey here if they'd like:

    • Scott McLeod says:

      "What are your 3 biggest challenges to being a great teacher?" Top 2 responses were 'Motivating students' and 'Student behavioral issues.'

      Both of these come under the category of "students aren't buying what we're trying to sell them" and are instructional/curricular issues, not technology issues. If technology in your classrooms is viewed as a (lack of) control issue, you've got bigger issues. It's not about control. It's about learning. Once again, our needs to box in and control students gets in the way of engagement and learning…

    • Tom Panarese says:

      This is definitely a problem that a teacher can create, and it can go beyond the use of technology, but I wouldn't simply write it off as "students aren't buying what we're trying to tell them" because sometimes it's "students don't want to try anything mildly challenging".

      I think you're looking at this too narrowly here. Steve had a point about the students' lack of motivation or poor behavior, because both of these can be hindrances to learning even before the ball gets rolling. I'm sure I am not the only teacher who has dealt with these issues on the very first day of starting a project or the very first day of school. Students often come "wired" with all of this; sometimes it's even worse in that they engage in the tactic of doing nothing long enough in hopes that the teacher will give up and either provide answers or just scrap the project altogether.

      We crow on and on about student engagement and letting them own their learning, but we need to be careful about assuming too much of the student's desire to be engaged.

  • Steve113 says:

    I think you're right but it is a matter of degree – for instance a teacher may have a well controlled class but have to do extra monitoring to make sure the kids are not surfing to the wrong sites – in the olden days surfing to the sports page of the printed text book was not a problem they had to worry about.

    we found that one of the biggest (and I'm not kidding) biggest issues of using a new computer program was just getting all the kids to be able to create a user-id and log in successfully – this was true all the way up to 8th grade.

    • Tom Panarese says:

      "in the olden days surfing to the sports page of the printed text book was not a problem they had to worry about."

      True. I was always the kid who was surfing through other chapters of the textbook to see what was there.

  • Malcolm says:

    "What I found, however, was that they were motivated and somewhat skilled. What they lacked was a belief in their own ability to create ( insert schoolbased tasks here) tech-integrated lessons."

    don't we see this in many of our challenged/weaker students?

  • LeighH says:

    As a senior manager in a school who is trying to get movement in my school, I agree with all of your points above. One thing that one of my staff members told me was "Its not a good feeling to be running last in a race" and so they gave up running. So now I try to focus on the old proverb…every long journey starts with one step. I hope to keep them moving in the right direction.

  • I agree with everything you say but from my experience, these aren't equal. The biggest thing that my coworker (This is my 12th year) struggle with is the FEAR. What if it doesn't work. and then they were right and something went wrong (normal). The use as a center is foreign to them because again, something will go wrong at some point (I'm a tech geek and several times a week, I have to play with the computer or network). Many of your points are great but again, most are excuses for the FEAR and ineptitude that many teachers feel.

    There is one thing that I didn't really see. The headache of teaching how to use the technology. I love my classroom set of clickers (student response devices) and use them daily but training my kids on how to use them was difficult and frustrating at times. I use many different types of question including texting, ordering options, and multiple choice. It is very frustrating at first even for me but totally worth it.

    Teachers are even afraid to teach their kids how to log in the computers under their own names so they give the general grade one (that saves nothing to their own directory).

  • Trevor King says:

    I really have to agree with all your points. My teachers in high school did not use technology because either they did not know how or they were afraid to be wrong in front of their students. No one should be scared of being wrong because everyone makes mistakes. However, since my teachers did not use technology, I am now behind many of my other classmates in knowledge on how to use them.

  • So in summary, the missing reasons are:
    – time (to learn how to use all the tech and to implement more involved solutions)
    – Internet quality (low bandwidth, poor connections, various filters and other blockers, etc)
    – infrastructure management (poor device maintenance, lack of single-sign-on, a.k.a. "I forgot my password", limited IT support)
    – lack of PD and other incentives (teachers often get devices but little to no training, PD is unpaid, irrelevant, too sporadic) )
    – student behaviour/motivation
    – mandated technology (that often doesn't worked as promised

  • jowdjbrown says:

    Whether it's a fear of letting go of control or a sense that one doesn't have the right skills or a concern about digital footprint, privacy or cyber-bullying, many teachers are simply scared.speech recognition software

  • Scott Hubeny says:

    Some implementations of technology for educators can often add layers of complexity that are unnecessary and don't support our work of teaching, as depicted here:

  • Rihana says:

    As per my opinion, teacher education ~ rather than teacher training – needs to change in future. Some scholars say that it is too late to begin the unbelievable change, as we need new competencies in teaching right now. However, if teacher education in Hungary follows its best tradition, and it remains practical, flexible and child-centered, there is a hope that the next generation of learners will get the support and skills they need in life during their schooling years from their own teachers.

  • Thanks for sharing this with us I agree with your points. As we all know that technology can give help in almost every field of life so I think it is good for the teacher to overcome their all fear and be familiar with the use technology this will be very helpful for them. For the perfect use of technology, I suggest that they have to consult with some IT consultant or technology expert who are well familiar with the technology they help them to be familiar with technology and through this the teachers are also well aware of the trends of technology.

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