Dan Armstrong
Professional Educator

Barriers to integrating technology into education

Recently I was doing some research and I found an article from Cathleen Norris at The University of North Texas and a past ISTE President. In the article she outlines 10 barriers to technology adoption. I have provided insights as to how this issues could be resolved. 

Barrier #1 Lack of Vision: 

I wonder how many of us have taken the time to create a vision of what our dream classroom looks like. More then just I want this or that, I'm talking about a real concrete plan with details. I have experienced in my classroom that as I have a vision for what I'd like to see it comes into being sooner then I would have believed possible. Also once you have a vision it makes it easier to share you idea and get your administrator to buy in to the idea. 

Barrier #2 Lack of Leadership

I have found success in working with my principal by creating solutions with technology that help her look good amongst her peers. Recently I created a walk-through form for her to use on her iPad with Adobe Forms Central. The form has spread across the entire district and she has gained some notoriety and has been very helpful and interested in what technology can do for our school. It did many things to build trust and it took only about an hour.

Barrier #3 Money

We would all love $10,000 for our classroom but how many of us have a plan in place to spend $10,000? If you don't already know what you need next or have a plan for the money why would anyone give it to you? Plan your next move like you are playing a game of chess. As you have a specific need for the money then people and businesses have something tanagable they can invest in. 

Barrier 4, 5, 6, Curriculum 

Adobe has created the solution for us right here on edexchange:

Visual Design (Design)

Digital Design (Web)

Digital Video (Video)

Also the classroom in a book series for the CC is already available. 

I have also discovered in my classroom that sometimes I just have to create the right lesson myself. 

Barrier #7 Infrastructure

This was an issue in my school two years ago when there was no wireless. I was able to buy a time capsule for wireless back up. One of the by products is that it has a wireless router which is powering my own classroom. My district was very much against any wireless network that they didn't control. I was very open about the network I had setup and I made a few waves but since it was plugged into an ethernet cable then the internet was still running through the filter and I was not in violation of federal laws. I password protected it so only I can get on it, the district has since warmed up as they have struggled to organize their own wireless. Some times you need to find a few $100 and solve the issue for you and show how it can work. You need to create what you want so that it can be shared with others and they can begin to understand your vision. 

Barrier #8 Parents

Parents can be tough to work with and some kids find themselves lucky if they have a home to go to. However I have found in general that my students parents often are seeking ways to assist in their students learning. With changes in technology the teachers have to be trained but so do the parents. Tutorials would help but some parents will still not have access or other obstacles may stand in the way. I think the best things we can do to help with parents is to be available for questions and if they are really struggling we may need to pick up the phone and have a conversation. 

Barrier #9 Time to Change

I have always tried to make sure that my computer lab is up-to-date because I believe my students deserve to learn on current technology. I have personal issues with being out of date, you could say I love to live on the bleeding edge and so do my students. Here is what I have done to keep my lab and curriculum current every year. Some may not like my idea at this point because it is going to require you to work during the summer. I stay away from my lab until July first, at that point my budget resets so I go in and place my purchases for the whole year (I have a vision and a plan for purchasing). I order everything in 2 days and makes sure that I will have enough supplies to get through the entire year. In this way I can avoid having to do PO's for paper and ink in the middle of the busy season. After those two days I leave again for another week while my PO's are approved then I order on one day. Following another week of waiting for it all to ship I go in and un box everything and lay it out. I have to image my own lab so that all starts about 3 weeks before school starts. I work on curriculum on and off when I'm not busy in the summer so that when school starts the computers and curriculum are all ready and a plan is in place. Since the technology is already updated and new software is installed with some fresh curriculum I can focus on instruction and Assessment for the entire year. 

Barrier #10 Assessment

The solutions for assessment range from large culminating exams such as the ACA to the smaller check for understanding. When preparing for assessment we have to consider first the outcomes we hope to obtain and then we can consider the assessment and what type of assessment is appropriate. By beginning with the end in mind we can focus on what is important, and if you paid close attention to detail then your outcomes will support the vision you have from Barrier #1. 

I was once told in my first week as an educator that technology in education will never be up-to-date and I would need to get used to that. Since then she apologized and has become one of my biggest supporters. You have to create the vision before you can hope to have others understand. Good luck and may your vision come to full fruition! 

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Comments (8)

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Joel Whitehead

Posted on 3/8/16 9:09:06 PM Permalink

I would like to respond to barrier #3 money. Yes it is possible to come up with 10k for a lab by the way of grant money, but usually the money is not there for the upgrades. This is where I run into difficulty. Software upgrades and computers upgrades extra costs are put on the back burner by the administration office. Without the upgrades of software the programs begin to fall apart. My current situation is that the my labs use software that is installed on the local machines. I do not know what to do when we will have to pay annual subscriptions in our labs and the admin says there is not money...

Beth Johnson

Posted on 3/30/14 11:24:33 PM Permalink

If parents and community members (in general) understood the importance and basic educational ideas and principles behind incorporating technology in education many of your barriers to this problem would take care of themselves. In my experience, parents as a whole do not get it! Many of them apply what they experienced in school a generation ago (and that includes me) to appoint themselves experts in education. Lack of parental support affects what teachers (those who are knowledgeable - yes - another problem) can do. When their children come home and tell what they are doing at school, many parents who do not understand are enraged, talk to other parents, go to the school, etc, etc, etc, - I have seen it happen so many times - while teaching and with my own children in school in both public and private settings. You are on the right track and so are many schools. Unfortunately, many parents, etc., (and there are many who DO understand), fail to see why integrating technology and helping students of all ages apply learning to real world applications is so important, effective, and meaningful.

Adobe has provided an excellent resource for professional and resource exchange here. I know (and hope) as time goes on more people will catch on! Thank you for your comment, Dan!

Lissa coffey

Posted on 9/12/13 7:59:35 AM Permalink

This is awesome! I love this post. I'm hoping to do a workshop on online portfolios once I get the hang of CC but I'm not at all sure what I'm doing yet.

Mark `Adamowski

Posted on 8/29/13 1:26:45 AM Permalink

Thanks for the article. I found it very relevent. I can not believe the changes that have occurred in the past 13 year. So much of School administration is stuck in the last century.

Leandro Amano

Posted on 7/31/13 9:20:01 AM Permalink

Great post! I believe that using technology, even course as the K-12 mathematics, physics, science would be easier to be absorbed along using software, such as a game in Adobe Flash or JavaScript.

Judy Durkin

Posted on 7/29/13 5:53:46 PM Permalink

I think that there is still a holdover from the days when digital integration was viewed as a frivolous expense that would not improve student learning. I experience a strong resistance from teachers to make the leap to digital learning and flipped classrooms. As you stated earlier, many administrators see technology as a distraction.

Thank you Dan. Incredible thinking.

marcia blanco

Posted on 7/29/13 3:02:28 PM Permalink

This is awesome! I love this post. At this point, my biggest issues are isolation (I'm the only one in my school that deals with technology and students in my curriculum and standards on a daily basis) and bandwidth (which I guess falls under infrastructure.) Every kid in our school district has an iPad and the bandwidth draw on that is pretty spectacular. As a result, there are times I can't load the simplest webpage so any dreams of collaborating with students from other communities or cultures via Skype go right out the window. Since we are so very tiny (I have kids who have never been on an interstate or seen an escalator/elevator/revolving door etc) I find it really important to expose them to some of this. At this point in time, it just can't be done. We are working on it though. One thing I'll say, I get loads of support.

Working in a tech center, my colleagues tend to shy away from technology like this. We have one program that uses smart boards and the iPads in a more traditional, research type manor but the rest of the programs (which are all project-based, as you would imagine with traditional CTE) tend to stay away from the computer end of things. I'm hoping to do a workshop on online portfolios once I get the hang of CC but I'm not at all sure what I'm doing yet.

As for summer vacation.......naaahhhhh! I'm spending a lot of this summer updating my knowledge of Adobe products I haven't used in the past, like Flash, Edge, Premier and After Effects. (I'm jumping up from Design Premium CS5) I'm also working to integrate all of the CC including Beyonce (Please, please technology gurus of my district, don't block it!) I commute an hour to school, so I don't do a lot of work in the classroom itself until mid-August, then it's long days. Anybody who gripes about teachers getting their summers off really raise my hackles.

Dan Armstrong

Posted on 7/30/13 7:12:53 AM Permalink

"the CC including Beyonce" I think that's supposed to be Behance. I hope you find a good conference to go to each year to help with the Isolation issue. There is a post with some good ideas for conferences here.