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What are Some Barriers to Technology Integration in Education?

4 Min Read
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Information and communications technology (ICT) has become increasingly important in the modern world. Almost everyone you know probably has a cell phone. School laptops and tablets are often sent home with kids so they can use them to complete their schoolwork. The rise of digital entertainment has also made technology one of the most essential things in life today. But what does technology integration in the classroom mean for our students?

While many schools have successfully adopted technology for daily operations, some have not quite reached complete reliance on technology, because of the challenges they face. Here are five barriers of ICT in education.

5 Barriers to Technology Integration in Education

1. Internet or computer access

Even though internet access is so widespread, not every student has access to the things they need in order to adopt technology-driven education successfully. Some families don’t have the financial means to afford internet and computer access for their household.

Districts who are faced with this obstacle need a plan for students who can’t afford technology to still be able to access their schoolwork. This might come in the form of a computer lab or a library of computers that can be checked out on a daily or weekly basis. Schools who struggle with this challenges of integrating technology in the classroom can also benefit from creating a structured school day where technology takes up only a portion of instruction. This way, more time can be granted for kids to get the assistance they need, potentially allowing your school to undergo a complete technology adoption sometime in the future.

2. Budget constraints

Some school budgets simply don’t make room for technology or never anticipated a technology revolution like the one we’re seeing. Districts wanting to provide a computer to each student must be able to afford those devices in the first place, but they’re not always able to. Additionally, digital books and other materials must be purchased, and some of these (e.g., those from Pearson) require ongoing subscriptions. In small cities and towns where the majority of people come from low-income families, this isn’t easily or even realistic.

Some larger school districts have been able to pass school stimulus plans within their communities to help with this problem. However, if the community isn’t on board with the idea or the city simply doesn’t have the funds available, the process will be more difficult. Even though there are federal education grants available, the amount of money available often exceeds the amount needed for all schools to take advantage of the funding.

Regardless of the amount of funding available, administrators can find a way to make technology adoption work. One way this can be done is by taking small steps over a longer period of time. Making technology a more significant part of the school day doesn’t have to be completed overnight. What matters is taking concrete, intentional steps that make a difference over the long term when it comes to adopting technology in the classroom.

3. Scarcity of curricula

Since most schools use technology to supplement instruction instead of fully adopting it, there is not as much curriculum for this form of teaching as there is for traditional instruction. Most of the curricula out there are written with traditional teaching methods in mind, rather than technologically driven ones.

For your school to successfully adopt technology, your teachers will need to provide feedback on the curricula they’re provided and what needs to be done to accommodate technology instruction. For this to work, you’ll need a group of teachers who are all invested in adopting technology in their own classrooms and for the benefit of their students.

Administrators and leadership need to remember that not all teachers will be on board or comfortable with teaching new curricula that incorporate technology, especially those who are not familiar with how to use instructional technology. It’s vital to support these instructors with meetings and training sessions so they don’t run into too many roadblocks in using the technologies you’ve provided. The more support your instructors receive in this transition, the more willing they’ll be to help your initiative thrive.

4. Wi-Fi barriers

Adopting technology in your school sounds great until you run into Wi-Fi problems. You need to be prepared to answer the following questions, among others:

  • Is your school sufficiently staffed to support students or teachers who run into problems? If not, would it be within your budget to hire additional support staff?
  • Do you have sufficient download and upload speeds for the amount of students using their devices concurrently?
  • How secure is your school’s network, and do you have restrictions on what content students can browse?

While some telecommunications providers are able to install high-speed internet at an affordable cost for schools, not all can offer educational discounts. One of your top priorities in technology adoption should be to secure a decent download speed for students so they can stream videos and any other multimedia content you want them to engage with in the classroom. They’ll also need a good upload speed so assignment submissions don’t take several minutes to go through.

Your community must come together to help each student have access to high-quality Wi-Fi at home, too. For some cities, this means offering low-cost, high-speed Wi-Fi to families who meet certain low-income qualifications. For others, Wi-Fi hotspots at local businesses might be an option. The most important thing to remember in this situation is that accessibility is everything. Educational technology depends on good Wi-Fi in most cases, so if that can be provided, you will have overcome a significant obstacle.

5. Parental involvement

Some parents may be opposed to technology adoption for a few reasons. For example, some parents fear that technology will distract their children instead of help them to learn more effectively. This is a concern worth addressing early on. Reassure them that students won’t have free rein to do whatever they want just because they’re using their devices — limitations will be imposed.

Other parents worry that technology adoption will require more involvement from them in an already tightly packed schedule of work and household responsibilities. Remind them that students won’t be on their own. While some materials, like lectures, may be pre-recorded, teachers will still be available via video conferencing to help students with any problems they run into during the day.

Overcoming Challenges and Barriers of ICT

While it’s likely teachers and administrators will run into barriers to technology integration in education, these are not necessarily impossible to overcome. Educators will need to have:

  • strong leadership
  • support for your instructors to help adopt new technology
  • improved school Wi-Fi
  • parents on board as advocates — not opponents — of technology

With all of that in place, you’ll see much greater success with technology in your classrooms.

This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.


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