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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Integrating Technology

As an English teacher, I always struggled with integrating technology in the classroom.  I felt as long as I projected my textbook on the SmartBoard and used the online textbook, that I was integrating technology.  It was not until I began working on my M.E.T that I realized this was wrong.  There are numerous advantages to using technology in my English classroom.  All teachers are realizing that this pedagogical shift is imperative in the classroom.  This technology makes the learning process engaging, relevant, and authentic.

One way to make learning more engaging is to incorporate social media in the classroom. Since students are already comfortable with these tools, this tool makes learning more engaging. Educators in a high school setting are moving to a more open-minded approach with respect to social media (Mao 2014).  Social media can be an amazing way to connect to other learners and share information. As teachers begin to incorporate social media, students will become more engaged in the educational process.

While incorporating social media is important, it is crucial to increase student engagement.  Technology allows the teacher to create an engaging, student-centered classroom.  There are numerous initiatives that assist in creating this type of learning environment.  For example, Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) is a pedagogical innovation focused on constructivist teaching and learning (Shieh 2012).  Initiatives like TEAL encourage the educator to rethink the pedagogies driving their instruction.  The current move in education requires an educational shift.  Without this shift, students will be left woefully underprepared for the future job market.

Including technology in the K-12 setting is an important shift; however, it is one that many educators, and students, are not yet comfortable.  Many educators are considered “digital natives”, and their understanding of meaningfully integrating technology is minimal.  In fact, many researchers are now assessing the meaningful use of technology in the classroom.  For example, Gu, Zhu, & Guo (2013) are researching both teachers and students to assess digital natives and the digital divide.  Additionally, they are assessing the attitudes of educators while implementing the technology.  In order to gauge the success of technology integration in the classroom, it is important that this type of study exists.  Many teachers today know that technology is an important classroom component. 

Finally, there is an abundance of research to support what all teachers already know.  Integrating technology in the classroom increases engagement, relevancy, and authenticity.  Many teachers are looking to move from theory to practice (Robyler 2016). The shift is happening, and many teachers are now realizing the importance in integrating technology in the curriculum.  Technology has moved passed the whiteboard as a glorified projector.  Teachers are realizing this shift is important and beginning to make changes.


Resources

Gu, X., Zhu, Y., & Guo, X. (2013). Meeting the” Digital Natives”: Understanding the Acceptance of Technology in Classrooms. Educational Technology & Society, 16(1), 392-402.

Mao, J. (2014). Social media for learning: A mixed methods study on high school students’ technology affordances and perspectives. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 213-223.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, 7th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9780133955439/

Shieh, R. S. (2012). The impact of Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) implementation on student learning and teachers’ teaching in a high school context. Computers & Education, 59(2), 206-214.

 

Game Based Learning

 

Integrating game based learning is something that I have struggled with this year.  While I have integrated Quizziz, Quizlet, and Kahoot!, I feel like those do not really count as game based learning. While game based learning is simply described as an approach to teaching where students use games to explore relevant topics (“What is GBL?”), it seems like it should be much more than simple definition matching.  Most teachers in my building use GBL only for test reviews.  Game based learning can be so much more than that.  Game based learning includes both games and interactives that can be used in the classroom.

One reason I have struggled with this is because I have trouble finding games that fit in my high school English curriculum.  Most of the games I found on the list worked well for grade school level learners.  It was only once I changed my mindset that I was able to see how some of the games would fit in my curriculum.  For example, I found a great game called Pandemic.  This is not a game one associates with high school English; however, it hits on a number of other important skills that can transfer to my classroom.  Students work in teams to solve a problem.  This is not unlike trying to analyze a character or discover a theme.  They all require collaboration and cooperation.  The game teaches those very important skills.

Another example is Popplet.  While Popplet may not be the game many are thinking, it can be used to work collaboratively to solve a problem.  In the end, that is exactly what an online game does.  It is no different with Popplet.  Although, instead of saving the world from a deadly virus, they are exploring a theme in To Kill a Mockingbird.  I find the skills of team work and cooperation are necessary for both.

Integrating game based learning is something that I have scoffed at for years; however, I am starting to realize the value of the games and interactives in the classroom curriculum.  I realize that there are many lessons taught in game based learning that can transfer to every day life skills.


 

References:

“Game-Based Learning: Resource Roundup.” Edutopia. N.p., 11 July 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

“Small, Safe Steps for Introducing Games to the Classroom.” Edutopia. N.p., 08 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

“What Is GBL (Game-Based Learning)?” EdTechReview. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

Social Networking and The Walled Garden

The entry this week focuses on the concept of the walled garden.  In order to collaboratively discuss this topic, I have created a Voicethread.  After you take a look, you can comment here or on the Voicethread.  Feel free to let me know what you think!

https://voicethread.com/app/player/?threadId=7624858

Resources:

Giacomantonio, Lucia. “Making Global Connections: The Edmodo Pen Pal Project.” RSS. N.p., 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.

“So You Want to Do Mystery Skype?” N.p., 25 Oct. 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.

“Walled Garden.” What Is ? A Webopedia Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.