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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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.

School Evaluation Summary

Before this course, I did not realize that my district had a technology use plan.  While completing the Maturity Model Benchmark, I was shocked to find that my district is at the island stage.  I thought we would be at the integrated stage, but, alas, we were not.  Upon completion of the audit, I feel that the way to fix many of the curricular weaknesses would be to implement a TOSA (teacher on special assignment) position at Bayside High.  This would encourage teachers to implement new technologies knowing that they have the assistance/guidance of an expert.

This audit really illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of Bayside High in respect to technology.  It is my hope that by exploring the weaknesses that Bayside High can implement changes to help boost morale and teacher perspective on the integration of technology.

This assignment has been one of my favorites from this semester.  It opened my eyes about many of the areas of improvement necessary for the district to succeed with its 1-1 technology implementation.

Click here to access my Evaluation Summary

Click here to access my Survey

Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

For this week’s assignment, I had to create a Google Slides presentation about digital divide and inequality at DeKalb High School.  In addition to creating the presentation, I also had to narrate it using VoiceThread.  Find the presentation here.

Throughout this presentation, I learned a lot of new information.  While I am not a fan of narrating my work, I did find VoiceThread easy to use.  I’m looking forward to using a tool similar to this in my own classroom.  Additionally, I learned that many presenters are too wordy on their PowerPoint/Google Slides presentations.  I found this link shared by my professor to be very helpful.  In fact, I shared it with members of my department, and they are now using it with their students.

Before this project, I did not know that digital divide and digital inequality were two different concepts.  I always assumed that they were different terms for a similar concept.  I’ve always known that technology is not equal in all of the world; however, through my research on the topic (and there is a lot of research) I have found that the problem is much larger than I had originally thought.  This technology was not readily available when I was growing up.  Once I took this knowledge and applied it to my school, I found that the divide at the school is because of deeper problems that are difficult to solve.

Now that I have this knowledge, I hope to enlighten some of my colleagues.  There are many teachers that do not have this very important information.  I also plan to meet with the superintendent about some ideas I have to combat this problem.  While I may not have a lot of solutions, I feel that I can help solve this deep rooted issue.

As an educator, I am constantly reflecting upon my lessons.  The same is true for me now that I am a student.  If I had more time, I may add graphics to my presentation.  I had never used Google Slides before, so I spent a lot of time playing with it.  I have to say, I really like Google Slides.  I find it much more user friendly than PowerPoint.  I spent time this last week trying to convince my department about how great this program is.

In terms of the AECT Code of Ethics, I find it difficult to justify this supporting any of them.  With the digital inequality in my district, I feel like the students are not supported as individuals.  As much as I feel the district is trying to help, I think it is hard to do so.  We cannot force families to pay for internet access at home.  Additionally, the school can only force students to take one computer class and classes are getting cut at the middle school level.  Consequently, many students are not receiving the instruction that they require to be proficient in their use of technology.