Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Computers in the Classroom

Smerden, B, Cronen, S, Lanahan, L, Anderson, J, & Iannotti, N, Angeles, J. (2000). Teachers' Tools for the 21st Century: A report on teachers' use of technology. Education Statistics Quarterly, [2 (4)], Retrieved April 2, 2008,from

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I can change my instructional strategies so that I better integrate technology and teach my students the technological skills they need to possess outside of school, regardless of if they have a computer at home. This article, although somewhat dated (1999), gave some facts that really relate not necessarily all to me, but definitely to my district and, more specifically, my school.

First, here are some interesting facts that I have read in many article and believe them to be true:
Teachers in low-minority and low-poverty schools are more likely to use computers than teachers in high-minority and high-poverty schools. I contribute this to the lack of funding and/or resources available for certain school districts.

Teachers with fewest years experience used the internet to gather materials for their lessons. I see this at my school for sure! Instead of using an old worksheet given to me by a colleague, I would rather go online and find a new and up to date worksheet, whereas the opposite is true for some of my colleagues.

“Teachers may be more likely to integrate computers and the Internet into their classroom instruction if they have access to adequate equipment and connections” (Smerdon, Cronen, Lanahan, Anderson, Iannotti, & Angeles, 2000). Although my first reaction to this was DUH, who wouldn’t use the equipment if they had it? I then realized that I work with a few teachers who have brand new Smart Boards in their room, yet they don’t use them at all! Maybe this quote is not as common sense as I thought.

Teacher preparation in computer use is a key factor if you want to have successful technology integration in each classroom. Two main ways for teachers to learn how to use technology is through professional development and through independent learning. Personally, I think independent learning in this situation is one of the best options and is very beneficial, although it can be time consuming.

Two main barriers to teachers using technology in their classroom is not enough computers and lack of time to learn. Here is where I have a problem. “Lack of time to learn”…..isn’t it our job to learn how to use technology so that we can teach our students how to use technology? Teaching our students the technological skills they will need for the future is of almost the same importance as teaching them their math facts or how to write in a complete sentence. The end goal for all of these skills is the same…to help them have successful futures. Therefore, I have a huge problem with teachers who are not even willing to TRY to integrate technology into their lessons. We are in the age of technology and we need to accept that and embrace it; not just for our sake, but for the sake of our students.


Annette said...

Hi Jenn,
Welcome back! I hope you didn't enjoy too much sunny weather! :) Your article brought up some good points. I have similar experiences at my school regarding older teachers not wanting to 'try' using the technology.
I have understood both sides of the coin since we have gotten interactive boards in our rooms. First, our principal expects us all to integrate technology. While I am an advocate for implementing tech, I also see the panic and stress that it causes for many of our teachers.
I am part of our school's technology team. It is our job on our team to create monthly staff development so the teachers can learn what they need to, which hopefully makes them more comfortable with integrating tech.
So, I can understand many frustrations of people like us who love using tech being irritated that those 'nontechnology using' teachers because they don't even try. However, I think its helpful if we are mentors for them by sharing our ideas and offering our support in their learning. Then if those teachers do not attempt or try for the sake of the children, I think it is totally on them.
Unfortunately, many schools do not plan out staff development for teachers for something like technology integration. I remember when we first got our boards, we did not get any type of training. The boards looked neat, but for some teachers, the boards looked like a one-eyed monster staring at them every day! They were intimidated and just wanted the boards gone! :)
My final thought is that we (technology users) need to find ways to offer up our ideas and training to those techers that ar resistant.

Sabrina said...

I agree that even though the article may be dated, the issues that it brought up are still prevalent today. Schools need to have the same technology equipment across the board. For example, in my county the new schools (typically in more affluent areas) get the new equipment, while the older schools (typically with a lower socio-economic level) have to make do with what they already have. It's just not fair to have schools in the same county with different equipment. Then we have the teacher issues. I see the same thing that you are describing. Newer teachers are more comfortable with technology and use it to find newer and better resources, while teachers with more years of experience tend to rely on their "files." I agree with you that teachers should take the time to learn the skills needed to apply technology into their classroom routines-it's crucial for the students. But, how do you propose they begin? It's "easy" for us because we already had a bit of background knowledge with which to begin. But put yourself in the shoes of someone who has trouble even sending would almost be like plunking us down in the middle of a foreign language school and expecting us to teach the students in their own language even though we don't know it! For this reason, I really believe it is up to the administration/district to provide mandatory teacher training in technology. It could be leveled based on experience. Some groups may need to focus on basic skills while others could move on to production/integration. It would be great if you could find articles on schools/districts that have successfully created/used such teacher training programs and to see how the teachers responded. :o)


Annette said...

Hi guys. I wanted to share a piece from an article I read today that has to do with staff development for technology. It said, "If we push teachers to start using too many new tools at one time, we may lead them down a path with little chance for success. The key is to balance between our demonstrations and their hands-on practice for each application of materials. Let the novice do as much as possible. 'Showing' is acceptable initially, but give teachers control as soon as possible so they can be comfortable working on their own. Help teachers build high levels of instructional efficacy by letter them practice and giving them supportive, constructive feedback" (Bratina, et al. 2002).
The quote was from this source: Bratina, T.A., Hayes, D. & Blumsack, S.L. (2002). Preparing Teachers To Use Learning Objects. Faculty and Staff Development. Available online at:

I was doing a paper on reusable learning objects and saw this part and thought of you and your frustrations with non-technology adapting teachers. I thought it said some good thoughts towards what we can do to make them more comfortable.