Limitations of Technology

Abstract

 

The interviewee I worked with is in her fourth year of teaching and is currently teaching Kindergarten in British Columbia, BC. The interview took place in the late afternoon of her classroom. Three aspects of the interview stood out to me. First, her limited use of technology (i.e. document camera, videos, and projector). Most uses of technology were used mainly for her teaching. Students had no interaction with the technologies. Second, the differential experience with technology her and her teacher education classmates had regarding Smart Boards. She did not feel that her teacher program prepared her for integrating technology but she also felt that her classmates “definitely felt differential in terms of technology coming out of the program.” Another aspect I found interesting was her limitations regarding integrating technology. From the start, she noted how her teaching partner does not use technology, which seems to have some influence on her as she says that “her teacher partner does not want to use technology with kindergarten students” and therefore she is “not currently using technology” in the classroom. Other limitations she mentions include the unreliability of technology based on its durability and wifi connectivity issues. Furthermore, she goes into detail about the inconvenience of the sharing aspect of technology. She says, “some schools have computer labs, which are shared between all classroom classes and resource classes. There are sometimes iPad cards that hold about 20 iPads, but again, shared between all classes. On top of that, teachers have to physically go somewhere else in the school to sign those out, sometimes finding out that the time they wanted use the iPads is already booked.” Though my interviewee currently does not use technology in teaching the math and sciences, she has shared her perspective about the limitations behind its use.

 

Interview Transcript

 

Tell me about your teaching experience.

 

Currently i am a kindergarten teacher in BC, but I’ve taught k-3 in the past

 

What is your experience of integrating technology in the math and sciences?

 

Because i’m in a temporary job share position, and my teaching partner does not want to use technology with kindergarten students, I am not currently using technology in my class. However, in the past I have. I had a projector and document camera in my class that was super helpful. I used it almost every time we met at the carpet. But specifically for math and science, I loved showing videos for students to have a deeper understanding on concepts and when I did science experiments, I could show it easily on the document camera instead of having kids crowd my table.

 

How well do you think your teacher education program prepared you for integrating technology?

 

I had one-off workshop that introduced Smart Boards and how to use it, but I wouldn’t say my program really prepared me for integrating technology. I do have some friends that did their practicum in a school that had smart boards in every class, so they definitely felt differently in terms of technology coming out of the program.

 

What are some ways you believe technology can help students understand math and science concepts?

 

I see technology as an extension to face-to-face teaching. If I can’t reach certain students using the methods i know, technology would be something to try.

 

Do you believe there are some limitations with regards to integrating technology in the math and sciences?

 

It can break, wifi at the school is wonky sometimes, it’s not reliable, some teachers don’t really know how to use it. Also, in my experience, there is not a lot of technology to go around. For example, some schools have computer labs, which are shared between all classroom classes and resource classes. There are sometimes iPad carts that hold about 30 ipads, but again, shared between all classes. On top of that, teachers have to physically go somewhere else in the school to sign those out, sometimes finding out that the time they wanted to use the iPads is already booked.

 

What are some challenges in the future for classrooms around technology?

 

In my opinion, getting technology permanently in all classrooms. If it’s in the class, teachers are more likely to use it. But of course, it’s expensive and technology may or may not be the priority in school districts.

9 comments

  1. Hi Gloria,

    It looks like you have an interesting subject here. I find that those who have atypical experiences from their peers often have a lot to offer in terms of insight. It sounds like your interviewee felt that she was not as well prepared to use technology as her peers. Is there any particular reason that for this that came up in any of your other conversations with this person? You would think that if she had the same training as her cohort peers she would feel similarly confident. Perhaps there is something in her background that is different from her peers when it came to her prior experience with technology?

    I’m hoping to do a synthesis of a few other interviews today and will cross post my finding back here later on.

    – Dan

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s interesting because I was a fellow cohort member of this colleague and I was placed in a classroom with a smart board while in her practicum experience, there was not one. Though our coursework exposure was the same, our practicum experiences could not be more different as in her classroom, it was a non-traditional, student centred, team-teaching learning environment.

  2. Hi Gloria,
    I think you hit upon an important point in your interview that being, the views and attitudes of staff are often coloured by their peers. If one teacher is hesitant to use technology there seems to be a trickle down effect. Other teachers begin to see technology as a burden rather than a tool to be used.

    I found a few things rather odd in my interviews:

    1. Teachers in the same division had almost the exact same attitude towards technology:(One grade 7 and one grade 8)

    a) when asked they both said “oh yes they use technology in their classrooms” and both seemed quite proud of this fact. They felt they were using technology really well.

    b) both used technology in the exact same way – games in math and movies.

    c) both said technology wasn’t reliable (hardware and connectivity issues)

    d) neither were willing to do any pd outside of the school day

    e) both said they did not have enough access to technology (both had a chromebook Teacher S kept hers locked in a drawer and had only taken it out during staff meeting inservice and Teacher C had leant his to a colleague because he never used it).

    f) Neither felt that there was a way to better incorporate technology into their classrooms they were doing a good enough job with it.

    g) Both spoke of a colleague who did more with technology in their class not as a positive but rather because this person had no life outside of their classroom.

    I found it odd that they had such a similar view of technology and its use in their classes as well as the way they viewed others who did use technology more often. It seems similar to your teacher who was willing to give up technology because a teaching partner did not want to use it. Sort of seems like peer pressure is playing a part.

    Catherine

    1. Yeah I found the peer pressure interesting because though she was in a temporary teaching position, she has authority over how she would like her students to learn. She did mention that her school does have access to technology, so peer pressure definitely has a role.

  3. I was interested in the very last comment that was made, In my opinion, getting technology permanently in all classrooms. If it’s in the class, teachers are more likely to use it. Although the crux of this is true, most teachers will use it if it is there, many of them do not use it in the way it was intended (smartboards for example) or will ignore it if they do not know how to use it (document cameras). In my school every classroom has a smartboard and document camera, but most teachers use their smartboard as a large viewing screen, not as an interactive device as the original software intended. Without the appropriate training or education around the technology that is given to us in our rooms, I do not believe that we are getting the most out of the devices, nor are we transforming learning by using them in a passive manner.

    Anne

  4. Hi Gloria!

    I found the interview session with your colleague to be very informative and enlightening. It truly brings forward to perils of lack of support by school divisions, lack of trust by teachers on technologies, and the general unpreparedness in using technology. I say enlightening because I teach courses online synchronously using D2L and Adobe Connect. Therefore, I am using technology to carry out every lesson that I teach so I have become used to using technology on a daily basis, moreover, became immune to issues your colleague brought up in the interview. The big issue in my case is that, when servers, D2L, or Adobe Connect break, I don’t have any alternative for that day but to ask my students to “work on assignments”.

    So what can be said about lack of support, trust, and unpreparedness by brick-and-mortar classroom teachers on technology? It seems these are very big challenges that we are still trying to overcome in 2017.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Vibhu

  5. Gloria, to what extent do you think “I loved showing videos” might be representative (or not) of the use of non-domain specific (Eg. digital presentation applications) at this age/grade level choice in science? Thank you for your insights into this elementary setting and teacher, a necessary perspective- Samia

    1. Hi Samia, this teacher’s expression of how she enjoyed showing videos to her students is definitely a representative of the use of non-domain specific at this kindergarten grade level in science as the students are not interacting with the digital tool used and it seems to be a supplementary to the teacher’s lecture or lesson.

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