Why Teachers Resist Technology? 

Dear Commons Community,

Last night I attended a panel discussion at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House led by David Steiner (formerly of Hunter College and now at Johns Hopkins University) entitled Can Education Technology Narrow the Achievement Gap.  Panelists included Julia F. Fisher, Jamie Stewart, and Kevin Wenzel.  I thought the most significant discussion came when a member of the audience raised the question of why teachers resist technology.  The context of the question related to teachers fearing technology as threatening their jobs. The responses were mixed but I would summarize (and add my own views on the issue) as follows.

First, not all teachers resist technology.  To the contrary there is mounting evidence that teachers and faculty at all levels have integrated technology into their teaching.  Much of the narrative that teachers are resistant is promulgated by technology-vendor hype.

Second, some teachers are hesitant to use technology because the support for it does not exist at their schools.  For education technology to succeed, there has to be appropriate infrastructure (reliable high-speed connectivity, training, support staff).  While many schools provide this infrastructure, many others especially in some of our urban school districts do not.

Third, education technology is not a panacea and it will not solve all of education’s problems.  One of the panelists made the point that students who come to school hungry may need much more people on people attention.  Most teachers understand this well.

Fourth, some of the education software and other technology products are not very good.  Teachers have to be involved in the selection/purchasing decisions and not just have it handed down to them by the administration.

Good discussion!


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