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…

Obstacles

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

Solutions

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

 

References

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.

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3 thoughts on “Obstacles and Suggested Solutions for Integrating Technology Into English and Language Arts

  1. Hi Cheryl –

    I really like your observation that “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.” because it is right on the money. In my experience as an IT Manager, this can be something of a generational thing. Older teachers (and administrators) are more hesitant to learn and integrate technology. Because they don’t understand it, they don’t trust it and don’t really want to go through the learning process. Younger teachers have an edge because they have grown up in a more technologically oriented world. And the students today are digital natives that, nine times out of ten, can show the teacher how to use the technology they are struggling with. That’s not to say that older teachers can’t and don’t embrace technology, I think for some of them it is just much more difficult and they need a little extra help to reach the point where they can see the technology as an inextricable part of learning.

    Great post!

    Jeanne

  2. Cheryl,
    I enjoyed reading your blog entry. I really liked your summary at the end. It helped me to reconcile the ideas that you were sharing. I agree completely with the obstacles that you identified here. I thought of one obstacle that you didn’t mention access to technology. Some teachers may really want to integrate technology, but have limited access to the hardware that they need to make it happen. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  3. I think that you addressed a key obstacle in integrating technology in the classroom, professional development. In my school we do not have enough professional development time or resources. How many days (or hours) do you think teachers should have to learn new technology. Do you think we should be restructuring the professional development system?

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