Why are we so slow to adopt new technologies in education?

 In a recent blog Doug Johnson agrues that value of creating “tech savy” educational administrators yourself and not wait for formal training. This leads to a bigger questions: Why in education are we so slow to adopt new and emerging technologies (both hardware and software)?

In educational jurisdictions across the world new technologies are banned, filtered or have restrictions placed upon their use. For example there is considerable debate on whether to ban or allow mobile technologies within schools. Web tools such as YouTube, EDMODO and social media are unavailable to teachers and students or they are only available to teachers or the are available to teachers and some students. 

It can take time for technology to be incorporated into educational practice. Email has become a tool used by teachers. However, often email is used as an administrative rather than an educational tool. Some may argue that the rise of email in education, especially from centre, is a cost cutting measure: reducing paper cost, mail cost and the cost of faxes. In some jurisdictions students (K-12) have recently  been provided provided with systemic educational email accounts. Given that email is about 40 year old technology, it has taken decades for it to be used in most schools. (By the way, the fax is over 150 years old).

Why does it take so long to adopt new technologies in education? Is there a reluctance to change practice, fear of making a mistake, a natural tendency to risk aversion or is it hard for big bureaucracies to be nimble and able to readily change?

Whatever the reason our students and their learning that is missing out.

Sir Ken Robinson has discussed the need to change educational paradigms.  Mark Treadwell states: without a paridigm shift schools cannot improve and that there is a need to move to a new concept curriculum . “One size does not fit all” and there is also a need to personalise learning. Technologies along with emerging technologies can assist with both the shift to and the delivery of the new curricula. 

Technology should not be used in an educational setting just because it is technology or because it is new. It should only be used because it supports the purpose of education in the 21st Century. It enables students to learning to be creative and innovative; to become effective communicators and to connect (learn) with others.

 Can education wait another 30 years before mobile technology and social media are embedded within educational practices? We need to identify and address issues that are prevention the adoption of technologies in classrooms. It would be better teacher students to become responsible digital citizens than to filter or ban Internet access.

Why are we slow to adopt new technologies in education? What are the issues? How do you address them?

Wordle: technology


6 thoughts on “Why are we so slow to adopt new technologies in education?

  1. So happy to read this–anyone who works in a tech-infused classroom or school knows using tech is the way to higher level learning and greater engagement. I can’t believe what children are learning and creating due to tech, it’s amazing.

  2. Interesting question and I think pose an even scarier question, “Can education wait another 30 years before mobile technology and social media are embedded within educational practices?”. Now that is scary! We can’t wait even one year to integrate mobile and social into education. In turn, I have a question for educators, are you implementing tech into your administrative roles? If so, how? I’ve come across a few “apps” for educators and I found one that looks good for Teacher Evaluations called LookForApp.

  3. Can’t help but agree: Teachers are not fast. Or is it the educational systems that we have created that don’t support change at all? I’ve seen the teachers that won’t budge, even if you put a computer in their hands. But the educational systems, far too often, are change-proof, and effectively block any change from happening.

    Right now, if we were to enter a classroom and observe its activities at any point in time in the last 300 years, we’d find little changed. How is that for resilience?

    I think that we need to look at the teachers as the primary actors, and whether they see+understand the value of the options, but also to the “support”, state-controlled, system that restrains innovation from happening. Good reasons? probably plenty. Bad reasons? just look at the results of the current users (aka students).

  4. It is not just a matter of introducing technology from the top and downwards. Or in other words: From the teacher to the pupil. It is also a question of how society affects this. But most importantly is that suddenly will new technology that the students use every day affects the teacher’s way of working. And then the technology will be introduced due to massive pressure “from below”. So what comes first? The chicken or the egg? And which one are we able to affect?

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