“What are the biggest mistakes teachers make when integrating technology into the classroom?”
The biggest mistake teachers make is thinking that the technology is more important than the lesson. No matter what teachers use in the classroom, the goal has to be to help students understand concepts and to move them forward on their educational paths. If the technology is not presenting engaging material, then it is a waste of teacher and student time.
Technology for technology’s sake is also a waste of money. In the past ten years, the only technological innovations that have improved my English classroom’s learning environment have been projectors, computers, and Internet access. The only technology/applications I use (in and out of my English classroom) are electronic discussion boards, review/edit features in Word, electronic submissions for essays, Internet, intellectual database subscriptions, email, and a projector. These innovations, which are no longer novel, have helped teachers and students communicate easily and access important, relevant material effortlessly. Everything else that I have tried or have seen other teachers use complicates communication and adds another application or device that students will be annoyed with or flat out refuse to use.
The most successful technologies in the classroom are one-stop programs–giving students access to their classes and teachers with one device or application, rather than multiple ones. If a teacher truly wants to help students, then the teacher should make sure all course material can be accessed from one location without multiple passwords, usernames, and websites to remember.
Another mistake teachers make is thinking that the technology will help engage students. Our students, for the most part, are not impressed with the technology we introduce to them at school. By the time the school gets wind of the technology, gets the budget approved to buy it, figures out how to make it “safe” for student use in schools, and then trains teachers to use it in the classroom, the technology is ubiquitous; it is no longer novel for students. Teachers who think the new technology will be a cool way to get the students engaged are probably not technologically savvy themselves.
When teachers do use cutting-edge tech, it is likely to be unreliable technology, which students hate because it fails to work correctly. Students are already more knowledgeable with technology than most teachers are. For the school districts that are in middleclass and above neighborhoods, students’ home technology is better than anything the school can acquire. The only thing we truly accomplish with the “bells and whistles” technology in schools is to increase the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
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