Efficiency In Technology

Keywords: Connecting, Fluency, Time



For this interview, I spoke with Teacher R, a secondary math and science (Biology) teacher.  She went through the teacher education program in the mid 1990’s and, after taking some time off to start her family, she returned to the profession 7 years ago and has been at her current school for the past 3 years.  Her current teaching load includes math 8, science 8, science 10, and biology 11.  As well, she is nearing completion on her own Masters program in resource.  As she is a colleague and classroom neighbour of mine, the interview was conducted after school and in-person.  Through our 20 minute conversation regarding technology and technology in the classroom, a few main points arose.

Connecting through technology?

One of the topics that came up in our discussion was that of using technology to reduce the amount of work and time required to mark assessments and provide feedback to students.  Teacher R appreciated that technology can simplify her workload but was concerned that “… it wouldn’t be able to let you connect with the students.  […] And you wouldn’t want to let the computer keep you from personalizing [the teaching].”  The image of students learning, reviewing, and then being assessed all through the medium of technology could allow for teachers to take a reduced role in the classroom.  Teacher R’s comments serve to highlight that educators need to make an effort to not sit back and allow education to progress without them, but instead to adapt to their changing classroom to continue to provide students the optimal learning experience.

Technological fluency

This topic is one Teacher R felt strongly about was that despite all her intentions to plan and prepare a lesson that utilized technology, she still run into difficulties with connectivity issues.  She recounted a lesson in which she had intended on using Bluetooth to mirror her iPad onto her laptop connected to a digital projector.  When she was unable to connect her iPad to her laptop, she had to resort to delivering the instructions orally while the rest of the students work on their iPads.  She also noted that “it’s nice to have access to technology and all these apps, but you time to go through the app and to be able to explain it to the kids.  And then you need to be able to make sure it is working.”  This served to highlight the importance of not only technology use, but technology fluency.  In Teacher R’s case, having the right motivation and even having been given a short training session on the app she was to use in the classroom did not prepare her to troubleshoot problems with her devices.  Thus educators and administrators must be wary of not only the software being used in the classroom, but also the hardware and how all the devices interact.


The third point that came up multiple times in our conversation was that of time.  Early in the interview, when asked what she would like technology to do for her, she quickly laughed, “My marking?” While she did have ambitions for technology to do more for her (including making her lessons interactive and integrate all her presentation methods to be more seamless), the convenience factor that technology provides was one that she wanted.

Teacher R also noted, when discussing her connectivity issues mentioned above, that time was needed to allow her to become an expert in the technology.  It was not enough to be comfortable with the software, but she wanted to understand all the supporting technologies so that small problems would not disrupt the class.

Lastly, she also cited time as a constraint that prevented her from discovering new technologies.  She noted that “… in the future, we do need to spend more time on technology because that may be the only way to engage them.”  The difficulty she found with adding technology to the classroom was that there were simply too many options and not enough time to identify which would meet her needs.  The two pieces of software cited as examples during the interview (Doceri and ShowMe), “were recommended to me and I just set it up.”  So rather than actively sifting through the myriad of options, she took what was offered to her and made the most of it.


Overall, this was an insightful interview in that Teacher R helped to identify many of the factors that limited her ability to integrate technology into her teaching.  Certainly she has ambitions to include technology use, but it is clear that educators need support both in training and time in order to implement changes.  On the other side of the coin, it may serve as a reminder to software and hardware developers to continue to refine their offerings so that they become more seamless and easier to use.

The full transcript can be seen here.




  1. Hi Lawrence,

    Your keypoints are so valid and are the main reasons that hinder technology integration in classrooms. I have the same problem with mirror my iPad to a SmartBoard. Both are highly technological advances in education, yet seem to be incompatible naturally. There are paid applications I need to purchase to make it work. It would be nice if companies would collaborate to make all technology mesh well!

  2. The issue with the actual operation and cooperation of technology tools was one that my interviewee echoed and one that I am all too familiar with. Having the appropriate number of working devices, navigating Internet bandwidth challenges, and having the apps or programs actually do what they are supposed to do are lottery-like scenarios at times. I could test an app ten times at different times of the day and have no problems, and yet when it comes time for a less technologically fluent student to try it, something fails. I think this is an issue that affects all users of technology, regardless of how many years one has been teaching. Sometimes we are subject to the whims of the devices, and that can be a somewhat anxiety-filled experience.

  3. Hi Lawrence, I can very much relate to this teacher’s tech woes. One major issue I have had to grapple with is assessment. I can not afford to add any more time to my process, so when I introduce a “new thing”, if the assessment piece is too much of a factor, I will no longer do it. In order to reduce marking time, I no longer count quizzes for marks. Quizzes are for formative feedback only and students mark their own. My labs are all done in partners on Google Docs now, so I have half of the load (and they look a heck of a lot neater!). Marking load is like buying new clothes, in my opinion— our closets can only hold so much, so when something new comes in, it is prudent to consider what to take out! My other “marking hack”, while I am on the topic, is to have students upload final products to one Google Slideshow. That way, I only have one document to open and everyone’s work is on display. Wider audience, tends to produce better work, too! ~Dana

  4. Hi Lawrence,

    Many of the comments Teacher R makes regarding incorporating technology in the classroom seem to be shared by many. As much as teachers would like to include technology in their practice, the primary constraints of development time and availability of resources seem to be the limiting factors. At my school, there was a lot concern in developing the new junior science curriculum that a lack of textbook funding would place a greater reliance on online resources. However, with the abundance and wealth of information available online, it is difficult to vet everything that could be potentially used in the classroom. Although we haven’t come to a full decision yet on how to proceed in a remains a concerning issue.

  5. Hi Lawrence,

    Your interviews certainly highlighted some of the very real challenges present when implementing technology.

    I wanted to focus on this comment that you stated: “The difficulty she found with adding technology to the classroom was that there were simply too many options and not enough time to identify which would meet her needs.”

    I think this statement is relevant to many educators and was definitely evident in my own interview with Teacher L. She, too, is willing to incorporate new technologies into her learning space, but the challenge is finding an appropriate and worthwhile technology that is easy to use for both herself and her students. This search is time consuming!

    I think as educators, there is the need to seek after quality rather than quantity in technology choices. But really it comes down to an educator’s priorities. If meaningful use of technology is a priority, then an educator will invest in it. When technology fails during a lesson, problem solving needs to be done or alternative plans need to be made. I recall from Case 6 presented last week that the educational technology teacher said that he has a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C when teaching with technology – wisdom to persevere with technology rather than to give up on it.

  6. The idea that there are so many technological options out there for teachers to use, and not enough time to explore them, resonates with me completely. I am often being shown or finding out about new technological apps or programs that would be useful and pertinent to my program, but it is overwhelming when you don’t have enough time to check them out and it is not a great idea to use them without checking them out first. I can relate to why the teacher would rely on programs that have been recommended by other teachers because then part of the work has already been done. I can see some teachers being so overwhelmed with all the options that they would not be able to choose and might wind up using nothing at all.


  7. Lawrence,
    As a math science teacher, the interviewee expressed concern about the technology taking away from the role of the teacher in the classroom in terms of a reduced role, yet having possible added value if it could assist with marking pressures. As you write, “The image of students learning, reviewing, and then being assessed all through the medium of technology could allow for teachers to take a reduced role in the classroom.” In what ways do you think phrases like “guide on the side” or “facilitator” help or hinder math/sci teachers’ images of the role they play in a technology-enhanced learning environment? Samia

    1. Hi Samia,

      I see the role of an educator as a dynamic and ever-adapting one, particularly in response to student strengths and weaknesses. To me, the idea of a “guide on the side” or “facilitator” type of educator that relies heavily on technology is certainly one to work towards. As my interviewee alluded to, technology’s ability to quickly and accurately compute allows for a lot more efficiency in teaching but would only be beneficial if educators focused their earned time in other areas. But the more “on the side” a teacher becomes, the more the responsibility of learning shifts towards the student. Flipped classrooms and the like require students to be responsible and accountable enough to put in their work outside of class in order for the teacher to be able to make the in-class activities productive and the reality is that students will range in their ability to do that. My interviewee also mentioned that using technology to assess or even teacher gives her less insight into a student’s thinking process. These two factors likely pull teachers back into the more traditional, didactic teaching methods that pigeon-holes learning into 1 hour chunks of time in a room in a brick and mortar school.

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