Preventing Technology Frustration In The Classroom

Kaye Thompson Peters teaches a ninth-grade English class at Central High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Peters hopes to participate in the Save Our Schools March on Washington this summer, which takes place July 28-31. Genevieve Ross for Education Week

Photo via Edweek.org

While many teachers are comfortable with technology and can quickly grasp how to use it, other teachers often find technology complicated, overwhelming, and frustrating. There are some educators who feel that teachers with an aversion to technology need to shape up or ship out. Lia De Cicco Remu, director of Partners in Learning at Microsoft Canada, said that paper and pen don’t have a place in the modern classroom, and that teachers who use them are not being fair to their students. For teachers who struggle with technology, the introduction of so many new devices can cause a great deal of frustration. 

A negative first experience with new technology may lead to less tech-savvy teachers abandoning it altogether. Teachers may also continually find new reasons to become frustrated with the product, resulting in frequent requests for help from the technology director.

There are, without a doubt, valid reasons for a teacher to become frustrated with technology. Working with technology that is full of glitches or regularly shuts down can be an exasperating experience. However, there are some instances where teachers will contact the technology director even when the technology is working as promised.

For technology directors, having a well-thought out implementation plan is critical to prevent these frustrations. As discussed in our Implementation blog, an important step in this process is to sit down with the teachers, discuss the product that has been purchased, and explain how it works. A technology director should also provide teachers with some links to troubleshooting resources on the company's website.

Frustration with technology often stems from comparing the product with another device that has been used in the past (even though the two products are not much different from one another). It is only natural to compare two products to one another. However, if a teacher constantly compares a device to what they have used before, they will never be able to see the new technology's potential. If the teachers have used similar products in the past, the technology director should go over what makes the two products different from one another. He or she should explain the benefits and strengths of the new product, and provide a few resources the teachers can use with it.

It is also critical that a technology director is available to help the less tech-savvy teachers when they need it. Training sessions are of the utmost importance for teachers who struggle with technology; take the time to understand the comfortability levels each teacher has with technology, and keep an eye out for those who are not as comfortable using it. If a teacher still seems unable to master the product, offering additional training sessions may be helpful.

In an era where new technology is constantly being introduced to the classroom, it is understandable that frustrations will arise – it’s a lot to take in and learn in a short period of time. Teachers need to know that there is someone who is willing to take the time and work with them to master these different types of technology. Providing resources and support, as well as taking the time to explain a new product's benefits can help ease teacher technology frustration.

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