The major goals of educational technology are student monitoring and management, simplicity, and user adaptation. With the advent of technology in the classroom, students no longer have to learn at the pace of a teacher. Despite its advantages, there are many challenges associated with educational technology. First of all, it has to do with budget cuts, inadequate bandwidth, and the lack of teacher training and innovation. Let’s take a look at some of them.
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The recession has created a tumultuous period for public education budgets. While student learning may not be affected, budget cuts will most often target non-instructional services, such as transportation, student services, and student activities, as well as educational technology. When budgets are slashed, these programs and staff will often receive the brunt of the cuts and nice-to-have programs. Yet, the technology departments are the backbone of the school, so a budget cut to them could seriously impact student learning.
However, even with budget cuts, educational technology must be included in the classroom to meet 21st-century learning needs. Unfortunately, schools cannot always afford such technology, and a lack of funding can leave many students behind. Here are some strategies for maximizing technology funding for education:
Streamlining the process
The process of implementing educational technology can be streamlined by navigating the goals of the student body. By avoiding a lot of wasted money and time, schools can focus on the tools that help students achieve their goals. One way to simplify this process is by seeking teacher input before purchasing expensive tools, asking vendors for trials, and considering whether the tools actually meet these goals. These tips are important for ensuring that the school’s educational technology is implemented in the classroom.
Educators often use creative teaching strategies in response to budget cuts, but such measures cannot replace adequate resources. Many school districts are limiting staffing, and they are faced with the same challenges as other sectors. For example, there are fewer teachers, which means larger classes. Password managers and other security measures can ensure student and faculty accounts are safe from cyberattacks. Implementing password managers is one way to mitigate the risks associated with ransomware attacks and hackers.
The government has been cutting public education funding for nearly a decade. In the United Kingdom alone, schools have lost PS7bn since 2011, and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that school buildings could save between 25 and 50 percent in energy expenses. These changes can include switching from incandescent to LED bulbs and closing unused spaces. Additionally, the budget cuts may be an opportunity to adopt more energy-efficient building technologies.
Lack of internet bandwidth
High-quality instructional materials in rural and remote settings are becoming an essential component of personalized learning. With the growth of the internet, schools and districts are developing strategies to integrate new technologies into the curriculum and improve collaboration among students and faculty. Remote and blended learning methods are expected to become more common, and this trend will likely continue. Several collaborative efforts are visible in the data on student access to technology. Most students have access to the internet from home.
In addition to enabling universal access to resources, educational technology providers should provide affordable networks. Basic internet access costs more than five percent of the average national income in many LDCs, compared to less than one percent in wealthy nations. Financial resources per student in some areas are limited, preventing many students from accessing the internet at home. As a result, governments should consider developing regulatory frameworks and adopting special access rates for schools and institutions.
The Department of Education has suggested a solution for the issue. While rural schools generally had faster internet speeds, urban districts were not much better. More than one-third of urban schools had speeds below 250 KBPS per student. The study’s results, however, should be interpreted with caution because some urban districts were not included in the study. Further, rural school districts are likely to have slower internet connections and lower speeds.
While the federal government does not know the full extent of this problem, private companies and nonprofit groups are doing the best they can to estimate it. The lack of internet bandwidth is one of the biggest challenges that Ohio’s education community has faced. Educators, community organizations, and policymakers have worked together to tackle the issue. With the right policy, all 1.7 million students can receive the necessary educational resources and be successful with their online learning.
Schools are responsible for providing their students with the tools they need to access the internet, and the FCC can help by providing subsidies to cover the costs of internal connections. The FCC’s E-Rate program subsidizes the cost of internal connections in schools. It covers between 20 percent and 90 percent of internet access costs for schools and their students. Schools must apply for E-Rate funding before it kicks in.
Lack of professional development for teachers
School administrators have not always provided enough time and resources to support teachers’ professional development in educational technology. Although professional development is an integral part of any curriculum redesign process, it is often viewed as an afterthought, with only one training session a year. According to Oliver (1997), effective teacher professional development requires a vision and creativity. It should be ongoing and designed to help teachers develop new ways to engage students in learning.
Lack of professional development for teachers in educational technology is a common concern. While technology can improve student outcomes, it is still a necessary component of the education process. It is not enough to simply provide devices for classroom use, though. Investing in teachers as professionals is equally important, including providing the necessary training. Without proper professional development, teachers will need unlikely to leverage these tools fully. Ultimately, teachers must have buy-in for educational technology to improve student learning, and the best way to achieve that is through professional development for teachers.
The key to effective teacher training is implementing a quality professional development program. This can only be done with consistent practice, so teachers must be prepared for ongoing participation in professional development. It is also important for administrators to keep in mind that educational technology and change require a long-term commitment from teachers. Speck (1996) found that it takes anywhere from four to seven years to see a meaningful change in educational practices. Therefore, it is essential to invest in ongoing professional development for teachers, which is something administrators must consider when making educational technology and change recommendations.
A good teacher can improve a student’s long-term outcomes through inspirational lessons or harsh discipline. As teachers, they should focus on the perceived impact of new technologies on students. They should use student learning and skills as the basic outcomes of their professional development. In addition, teachers should consider the facilitating factors of change that are within their power. They should work to eliminate any barrier that prevents their effective implementation of educational technology.
Lack of innovation
The education industry has lagged behind in adopting innovative educational technology, which has many implications. Higher education is notoriously labor-intensive, complex, and more conservative than secondary schools. The primary focus of secondary schools is on student safety and well-being and on preparing students for the real world. While some universities are beginning to experiment with innovations to improve educational technology, others are simply not making the transition. In either case, there are several reasons for the lack of innovation in educational technology.
Meetings are essential on some level but are not necessary in every instance. Social media platforms and digital tools are useful for distributing information and breaking down barriers. Meetings can be long and take up a lot of time. Instead of learning something new, educators could spend that time reading about educational technology at leisure. Similarly, teachers could use this time to collaborate on new ideas instead of spending countless hours in meetings. Lack of innovation in educational technology is not limited to classrooms; it can also apply to other educational institutions.
The failure of K-12 education is particularly troubling because it depends on humans. While the economy has seen significant increases in productivity across the industrial sectors, education has not. The low level of R&D investment may limit the supply of quality educational technologies. Overall, only 0.2% of the K-12 education budget goes towards research and development, a fraction of the highly innovative industries. But the amount spent on education is roughly comparable to that on health care and other industries.
Creating a climate where innovation is welcomed is a critical step toward fostering an innovative school culture. Schools should create a supportive environment where educators can be creative and bold. If educators are given the freedom to experiment and fail to see results, they will be unlikely to pursue the innovation. However, it is possible to create pockets of innovation. While this is encouraging, massive support is needed to foster innovation. If more schools would embrace innovation, it could change the entire educational landscape.
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