Obstacles to Tech Integration in English

Integrating technology in the classroom was always something from which I thought math, science, and elementary teachers benefited.  I looked at the SmartBoard as a fancy projector.  I looked at the possibility of having 1-1 Chromebooks as interactive textbooks.  Many English teachers, and teachers in other content areas, share these same feelings.  There are many obstacles to integrating technology in the English classroom.

A study of English teachers revealed a number of concerns regarding technology integration in their classrooms.  The study revealed that teachers perceived a number of barriers with respect to integrating technology and changing methodologies (Yang & Huang 2008).  Changing methodologies can be a scary thing.  It is even scarier when teachers perceive this shift as a temporary one.

It should come as no surprise that research shows that constructivist teachers use technology more (Hsu 2016).  Hsu found that there are a number of barriers leading to a lack of technology integration.  His findings, I feel, support how the English teachers at my school feel about technology integration.  He mentions barriers include:

  1. Students’ lack of computer skills
  2. Teachers’ lack of training
  3. Teachers’ lack of time to implement tech
  4. Teachers’ lack of technical support

These concerns and barriers will not go away for some time. The students do lack basic computer skills in my ninth grade English classroom; however, I’m assuming that will change the earlier technology is meaningfully integrated in the classrooms.  Students lack valuable computer skills because we are not preparing them for the expected level of work.

Many English teachers find it frustrating when the availability and access to computers is lacking.  It is difficult to complete digital tasks when the equipment isn’t there (Lowther, Inan, Daniel Strahl, & Ross 2008).  Additionally, as I mentioned before, it always appeared that math and science had the fun curricular materials.  The availability of technology ready materials is not fully there.  Additionally, while English teachers may be quite sound in their content knowledge, there is a little bit of insecurity for some teachers with respect to technological knowledge (Lowther, Inan, Daniel Strahl, & Ross 2008).

All of these issues that English teachers face will be solved with time.  This instructional shift is still getting started, and it will take some time (and patience!) for all obstacles to be defeated.  For many of these obstacles, professional development will be essential.  Teachers will feel more and more comfortable the more they are given time to practice the tools.  Additionally, teachers need to be reassured (by administration) that no repercussions will come from a lesson that does not go as planned when a teacher is attempting something new and unfamiliar with technology.  For English teachers, it comes down to realizing that there are fun, engaging, and meaningful ways for us to integrate technology, too!  It isn’t just for the math and science teachers.


Resources:

Hsu, P. (2016). Examining Current Beliefs, Practices and Barriers About Technology Integration: A Case Study. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 60(1), 30-40. doi:10.1007/s11528-015-0014-3

Lowther, D. L., Inan, F. A., Daniel Strahl, J., & Ross, S. M. (2008). Does technology integration “work” when key barriers are removed?. Educational Media International, 45(3), 195-213. doi:10.1080/09523980802284317

Yang, S. C., & Huang, Y. (2008). A study of high school English teachers’ behavior, concerns and beliefs in integrating information technology into English instruction. Computers In Human Behavior, 24(3), 1085-1103. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2007.03.009

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2 thoughts on “Obstacles to Tech Integration in English

  1. HI Colleen. I think you make some valid points about the resistance of change. It is really hard for me to imagine that English teachers are still not using technology in the classrooms. In your experience, do students still submit hand written work? Does your district use computers in K-8?

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  2. Hi Colleen,
    The English department at my school is very young and there is still quite a bit of resistance to integrating technology in the classroom. Do you think that in addition to issues with older, non-millenial teachers not knowing how to use tech, there might be a fundamental non-tech bias in English teaching in general? I mean, maybe there needs to be a shift in the way English is taught in order for it to evolve into a more tech-friendly discipline.

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