Obstacles and Suggested Solutions for Integrating Technology Into English and Language Arts

hackNY spring 2013 student hackathon by hackNY, on Flickr
By hackNY licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0
English teachers are expected to teach more than grammar, writing, vocabulary, and Shakespeare.  Their responsibilities also include additional skills students must have when using technology to read, write, collaborate, and more.  These skills include information and digital literacies, two concepts with flexible definitions –and numerous related-skills.  Digital literacy refers to “skills in using the information that technological devices carry in addition to skills in using  the devices themselves (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.267).  While information literacy, according to the American Library Association, is “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.268).

Not only do English and Language Arts teachers need to (learn and) teach multiple literacies, they must also learn new strategies for effectively integrating technology into their curriculum in order to improve student learning.  Such strategies include 21st Century skills for students to be able to communicate, collaborate, solve problems, and be creative (Learning and innovation skills).

Such changes to the role of the English teacher are often “not fully realized unless teachers receive continued and systematic professional development (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.271).  Of course, this kind of support takes time.  According to a study on teachers’ perceptions of the integration of instructional technology, “the most prominent obstacle was a lack of time to integrate [technology] during a class period” (Hutchison & Reinking, 2011, p. 328), followed by lack of access to technology and lack of professional development.

When teachers perceive technology as a vital part of their teaching, it no longer becomes an extra component, but rather an inextricable part of learning.  Then, teachers may be more willing to evolve into a “networked” teacher through a developing personal network (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.271).  Indeed, the solution lies in the support of organizations, such the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the American Library Association (ALA) through web sources, listservs, blogs, wikis, and other social media.


To summarize…


  • perception that technology is additional to, rather than a part of learning
  • time (for integrating, for planning, for support, for professional development)


  • change perception that technology is vital
  • encourage developing Personal Learning Networks for support, professional development



Hutchison, A., & Reinking, D. (2011). Teachers’ perceptions of integrating information and communication technologies into literacy instruction: A national survey in the United States. Reading Research Quarterly, 46(4), 312-333. doi:10.1002/RRQ.002

Learning and innovation skills. (n.d.). Route 21. Retrieved from http://route21.p21.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=4

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.


Making sure students understand that their online actions can
have consequences is an important part of “digital citizenship” and online safety.  Because of an ongoing evolution of technology in education, it is imperative that schools now take on this responsibility of keeping students as safe as possible as they spend more time online.


“Fully 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites.”
(Lenhart, et al., 2011)


Similar to the meaning of citizenship in the offlineicon-36881_640 world, society is a kinder place when everyone plays by certain rules and follows guidelines for appropriate, respectful behavior. Teaching students about digital citizenship, including how to be safe online, should be a key learning component at every grade level.


The concept of digital citizenship refers to “norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use,” according to Mike Ribble’s Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship (2014).  Ribble breaks the nine facets into groups of three:

Respect Your Self/Respect Others

  • Etiquette
  • Access
  • Law

Educate Yourself/Connect with Others

  • Communication
  • Literacy
  • Commerce

Protect Your Self/Protect Others

  • Rights and Responsibility
  • Safety (Security)
  • Health and Welfare

While all of the areas are important for teachers to include in their instruction, this post focuses on the area of safety and protection, particularly on safety.  Students need to understand that their online actions can have lasting effects, positive or negative.  Teachers should help students establish an awareness of their part in the connected, online world.


“I can see a day in the not too distant future (if it’s not already here) where your “digital footprint” will carry far more weight than anything you might include in a resume” (Betcher, 2009)


Resources for teachers to use with teenagers:

  • To help teens make safer choices online, check out this site that has games, videos and more: http://www.nsteens.org/
  • NetSmartz Workshop has information, and a lot of videos, for teenagers all geared toward helping them make safer choices: http://www.netsmartz.org/Teens

Teenagers use cell phones after school t

The following are sites that have lists of tips:

Internet safety and the law:



Betcher, C. (2009, May 14). Footsteps. Betchablog. Retrieved from http://chrisbetcher.com/2009/05/footsteps/

Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Smith, A., Purcell, K., Zickuhr, K., & Rainie, L. (2011). Teens, kindness, and cruelty on social network sites. PEW Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED537516.pdf

Morin, O. (2010, March 29). Teenagers Using Cell Phones. [Digital image]. Getty Images. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/sns-rt-us-millennials-pollbre95i1j4-20130619,0,5718904.story

Ribble, M. (N.d.) Nine Elements. Digitalcitizenship. Retrieved from  http://digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html

Safety on the Internet