Whenever people try to change up the traditional method or approach, there is usually some objection and dispute in response. The typical remark of, “but we’ve always done it this way” seems to be enough justification for the opposing party. Integrating technology into a math classroom can be extremely beneficial but its greatest obstacle is battling this appeal to tradition. All the obstacles that stand in the way for technology integration for math can be traced back to this attitude and excuse.
First, there are many teachers, administrators, and even parents that fear technology; this fear cultivates an academic environment where it is acceptable and even meets the status quo to teach using traditional methods such as teacher led lectures, student worksheets and conventional assessments. According to Roblyer and Doering (2013), “technology can serve as a catalyst to move teachers toward an instructional style that is more student-centered, active and relevant to the world we live in”(p.310). For teachers to want to change their practices and integrate technology into their curriculum freely, they need to understand the technologies available for a math class and the impact that these tools can have on student thinking and comprehension of math concepts. “Teachers require professional development and construction time to utilize technology effectively” (Technology in Mathematics, n.d.). The lack of training on incorporating technology resources is a major obstacle when trying to implement technology in the classroom. Most math educators know how to use graphing calculators for instructional purposes. However, many math teachers are not as knowledgeable on the use of online instructional games, manipulatives, spreadsheets, wikis, blogs, videos, and communication tools to enrich curriculum and engage students. “Professional development, the human infrastructure, needs refurbishing; it shouldn’t consist of random workshops or lectures that teachers suffer through on specific PD days. Rather, PD needs to be an ongoing activity that is focused on helping teachers adopt essential one-to-one technology” (Norris, 2011). The fear of using technology for instruction can be calmed if teachers are encouraged and supported to integrate 21st century teaching methods.
Another obstacle that can prevent math teachers from integrating technology into their classroom is the time consuming nature of it. Teachers are already overwhelmed by the demands of grading, lesson planning, meetings, tutoring, and communicating with parents. Teachers rely heavily on previous lesson plans from year to year; this may lighten their work load but it also promotes that same appeal to tradition as the last obstacle. Integrating technology into the math classroom may add more work to a teacher’s plate but it also improves their students’ understanding of the material which is every teacher’s ultimate goal. Searching for and preparing technology rich lesson in a math class is not an easy task. “To successfully incorporate beneficial technology requires a large amount of time for production and preparation. A webquest, for example, may take several hours for even an experienced teacher to program, identify links, and upload to the internet. Often, even installing and setting up software is tedious and time consuming, leading many teachers to avoid technology integration completely.” (Issues and Barriers, n.d.). Math students usually rely heavily on teacher-led instruction, however, when the right resources are used in the classroom, students can participate more in the learning process. The lesson planning is not the only part of technology integration that takes up a lot of time; lessons that incorporate a lot of technology can take up a lot of class time. Many math curriculums are very demanding and teachers may fear that using the technology or additional resources may prevent them from covering the necessary material. Unfortunately, schools rely heavily on standardized testing results to receive the proper funding and resources each year. Therefore, it is critical that teachers meet the standards and cover all the necessary material prior to testing.
Finally, and most obviously, a significant obstacle to integrating technology into the classroom is the funding and accessibility issue. Not every school has access to a set of laptops or iPads at every class meeting. Not every student can afford a personal graphing calculator or mobile device. This is a huge hindrance for teachers who are trying to integrate technology to improve student learning. As a math teacher, I own a number of graphing calculators that I allow students to borrow, but that is not a permanent fix. It is really an issue for state and federal legislature to address. Unfortunately, they follow the mindset that ‘the education budget has always been a set number so what’s the need for increasing it?’ Again, that appeal to tradition can be traced to almost every obstacle for an educator trying to integrate technology. Hopefully, the education budget will someday allow for schools to overcome the digital divide and provide a technology rich education to all students.
The benefits for integrating technology into a math class are overwhelming. Even the National Council for Teaching Mathematics stresses that “technology is essential in teaching and learning mathematics” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.310). However, there are definitely obstacles preventing this integration into the math curriculum. Lack of resources, inadequate knowledge and skills, standardized testing demands, time, money and accessibility can all serve as significant barriers when implementing technology into the math classroom.
Issues and Barriers to Integrating Technology. (n.d.) School Computing Wikia. Retrieved from: http://schoolcomputing.wikia.com/wiki/Issues_and_Barriers_to_Integrating_Technology
Norris, C., & Solowy, E. (2011). The 10 barriers to technology adoption. District Administration. Retrieved from: http://www.districtadministration.com/article/10-barriers-technology-adoption
Roblyer, M.D. and Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Technology in Mathematics. (n.d.). School Computing Wikia. Retrieved from: http://schoolcomputing.wikia.com/wiki/Technology_in_Mathematics