Educators face numerous obstacles daily and the integration of technology is no exception. “While significant potential exists for technology to improve learning opportunities for schools with low-income students, issues of access and equity continue to be a challenge today” (Young & Bush, 2004). Low-income students are not the only ones affected by this issue. Students living in rural areas also experience limited access to technology in the classroom and in the home. “Some believe rural districts are too poor to pioneer innovation and technology” (U.S. Department of Education, 2013) mainly due to lack of resources. Finding a solution for this problem includes being proactive and not letting the situation deteriorate any further. Teachers who find themselves in schools with limited access should work with administrators to locate and submit grant proposals. Although the grants may not be awarded and the situation may not change, the only thing lost is the time invested in writing the document.
Possibly the greatest obstacle facing educators integrating technology in the classroom today, are their peers. “Ultimately, teachers decide what happens within their own classrooms and, as a result, they have the potential to be the key change agents in reform efforts, especially when it involves technology” (Young & Bush, 2004). Even though teachers actively use technology at home, many are reluctant to actively use it in the classroom. This is mainly due to a lack of confidence in dealing with the complexity of effectively using technology in the classroom. Breaking through this barrier would have a profound effect on language arts in the classroom. As more resources become available online or through software, language arts lessons will transform from reading from a book and writing a paper to reading electronic documents and keyboarding the assignment. A major step in this direction is for teachers to model lessons using technology and not leaving it to the students to figure it out. “Teachers using technology in their English language arts classroom are not only improving their instruction for their students; they are changing the very nature of that instruction” (Pope & Golub, 2000).
Although I have yet to personally encounter a major obstacle in integrating technology into language arts, I am anticipating one next year, which is the unwillingness of parents/guardians to allow their children access to the Internet. Since beginning the M.E.T. program last year, I have increased the amount of technology used in the classroom tremendously and rely on it daily. In fact, all writing projects created by students is turned in using Google Docs via Gmail. There are many parents/guardians who are concerned with protecting their child’s privacy and justifiably so, however in doing this, they are inhibiting their child’s education. 21St century technology skills are a necessary component for all grade levels and Internet safety is paramount.
Instead of completely prohibiting a child from experiencing technology in a safe environment such as a school, parents should be involved and help to teach technology safety. “Being adept at using the Internet is an important life skill that we all have to master to be successful, productive members of society” (Owens, 2012). The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted to ensure schools teach students about how to use the Internet safely and responsibly. Schools and parents must work together beginning in elementary school and continuing through high school to ensure the safety of the students. By removing this obstacle, children will be more prepared for the workforce.
Owens, L. (2012). 5 ways to teach kids to use technology safely. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/5-ways-to-teach-kids-to-use-technology-safely/2012/07/30/gJQAbEClLX_blog.html
Pope C., & Golub, J. (2000). Preparing tomorrow’s English language arts teachers today: principles and practices for infusing technology. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss1/currentissues/english/article1.htm
U.S. Department of Education. (2013). The new narrative of rural education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/new-narrative-rural-education
Young, C. A. & Bush, J. (2004). Teaching the English language arts with technology: a critical approach and pedagogical framework. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol4/iss1/languagearts/article1.cfm