Technology is changing the landscape of industries everywhere. From retail and agriculture to design and healthcare, societies are adapting fast to the changing times.
K-12 education is no exception. Technology has paved the way for new opportunities to improve this crucial period of student growth. Curriculums have been readjusted to cater to students’ specific needs. For instance, instead of boxing them into a standard mold, we’re swapping chalkboards for electronic screens and using programs for personalized learning.
It’s encouraging to note that these efforts have been paying off. Edtech Magazine has found that K-12 students are more prepared for college and graduation in schools that have implemented personalized learning. Even a previous post here on NEO Blog has underlined the numerous benefits of edtech’s connected learning, such as an increase in global mindedness and communication skills. But beyond convenience and providing a portal for communication, edtech has become a platform that opens up a network for teacher collaboration.
However, despite these advances in educational technology and the students it serves, research shows that many educators still have trouble adapting to newer systems. Why is it that these teachers, supposedly at the front lines of learning, are also the ones struggling to keep up with the pace? Behind the seemingly productive numbers for edtech is a permeating struggle that must be addressed.
Educators are not educated enough
Edudemic lists teachers’ lack of training as one of the top barriers to education technology. One crucial factor behind this is that many of them grew up in a generation that was less digitally inclined — unlike the succeeding kids who were born with iPads at their fingertips.
True enough, this inadequacy is confirmed through a survey by Samsung. Their findings state that, though most teachers do believe in the importance of technology integration, 60% of respondents feel that their preparedness for using it falls short.
Much has been said about online learning throughout the years. Many have praised its accessibility, but others have questioned whether it is appropriate for K-12 students who require more guidance during this volatile development stage. National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel told Schools of Thought that there’s more to learning than just content acquisition. While educators like him are for online content integration, he believes it can never totally replace brick-and-mortar schools. He says,
There’s socialization. There’s discussion in classroom. And as a teacher for 23 years, you know there are times when they just need a little encouragement. You’ve got to be able to look at their face and know whether they need a push or maybe a hug.
While engagement and motivation remains the heart of K-12 education, this preference for the traditional has caused some teachers to resist edtech advancements.
With innovation and automation progressing rapidly, many teachers are worried that it may render them and their work useless. Contrary to this, advocates of edtech have stated that technology can never replace human educators. So how can educators shake off their fears of digital to maximize edtech and harness its benefits?
Read more: Will AI replace teachers?
Many teachers grapple with a sink-or-swim mentality that is often present when edtech is introduced to them. Not only are they expected to keep up — they must lead the way with the most innovative ways and strategies for teaching and learning. However, if teachers don’t have 21st century skills, how are they supposed to effectively teach it? With that, Maryville University’s educational degrees page explains how vital it is for educators to continue learning as well.
Only by furthering their own expertise and working on their growth can teachers effectively lead their students and the schools they serve into the future. The only way forward is for edtech advocates, administrators, and teachers themselves to work together and train the educators of today for the schools of tomorrow. It might take a village to raise a child, but this won’t work if the village isn’t well equipped with the tools — and the technical know-how to use them — to begin with.
Jona Bresket is a K12 teacher by day and aspiring writer by night with a passion for all things EdTech. When she’s not in the classroom or working on her articles, Jona enjoys biking and live jazz.