Obstacles to Technology Implementation
March 30, 2004
Teachers need a great deal of motivation when it comes to implementing technology in the classroom (Gahala, 2001). There are many obstacles to overcome.
Technology can be very intimidating for many teachers "because introducing technology almost always requires new learning" (Dyrli & Kinnaman, 1994). "Teachers may lack the time and the
motivation to learn technology skills" (Gahala, 2001). The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the obstacles teachers face "in their attempts to implement and integrate
technology in their classroom" (Leggett & Persichitt, n.d) and compare it with the author's workplace.
"The integration of technology into the curriculum will not succeed without giving teachers ample time to practice, explore, conceptualize, and
collaborate" (Gahala, 2001). This can be done by inviting them to join the school technology planning committee. "Solicit teachers' participation on the technology planning committee and
explain why their participation is important" (Conner, 2002). "The CEO Forum recommends involving teachers, administrators, board members, parents, and others in planning and
implementing professional development" (Norman, 2000). Once teachers get "engaged" in the process, the rest will follow. As Van E. Cooley says: "Don't start until a staff development
program is in place" (Cooley, 1998). Once teachers understand the value of technology in their teaching and the ease with which it can be utilized, they will not shy away. Dixie Conner
suggests two very important "tips [on the importance of] show[ing teachers] how technology can save time [and] train[ing] technology proficient teachers to become technology mentors"
"Why is it that some schools are effectively using technology for teaching and learning while other schools are not" (Byrom, and Bingham, 2001, p. 3)?
"Certain conditions are necessary for schools to effectively use technology" (NETS, 2002). According to Van E. Cooley, "success of technology implementation is contingent on a number of
factors". First, schools must "have a strong curriculum as a foundation [because if they don't], technology will do little to improve … schools and might even have a negative impact"
(Cooley, 1998). Teachers need to feel that they count. However, as Larry Cuban says: Teachers…remain voiceless in setting the reform agenda" (Cuban, 1996). "Technology planning expert
Dixie Conner explains how effective planning by teachers and technology leaders working together can result in more effective technology use" (Education World, 2002). Dixie Conner
suggests ways "technology leaders can begin to close the communication gap with teachers, and teachers can become more informed about the benefits of planning and more involved in
integrating technology" (Conner, 2002).
The author's workplace experience with teachers' lack of interest in using technology indicates that teachers need to get involved if anything is going
to happen. Teachers shy away from computers for many reasons. They are afraid of failing. Many teachers fear they would lose control of the class (Cuban, 1996). "Teachers have a
difficult time applying technology skills in the classroom unless there is a direct linkage with the curriculum, teaching strategies, or improvements in achievement" (Byrom and Bingham,
2001). Teachers need training and ongoing support to be able to get the confidence they need to lead their students. According to Van E. Cooley, "curriculum, instructional leadership,
personnel evaluations, staff development, and school environment" are factors that school technology planners must address. Teachers must be included in all of this. They must be
prepared and given incentive for motivation. In the author's school setting, "professional development activities [are providing] ongoing, hands-on training for teachers or practical
strategies for implementing technology into lesson plans" (Gahala, 2001). Teachers would not be frustrated and shy away from the computer rooms if these were available. Teachers cannot
sustain the fear that during their lessons, a "hardware and software [may] pose problems … and technical support may be unavailable" (Gahala, 2001). Teachers will not go into the
computer room unless a special computer teacher is there to support them. Teachers are not ready to work on their own. "Equipping rooms before establishing [teacher] readiness is a
folly" (McKenzie, 1999). Jamie McKenzie rightly claims that "it is bad policy". This is a major problem in the author's workplace where the hardware and the software are available but
the teachers are not.
The author's school setting has four computer rooms with Internet access of ten students for each computer. Most students also have Internet connections
at home so that the virtual classroom software, which is password protected, can be used for online distance learning. Computer room scheduling is not the problem, teacher motivation is.
None of the teachers are using the available technology on a regular basis. Why are teachers not integrating technology in their classrooms? The answer is "effective leadership" (Byrom,
1998). It's not enough to purchase the equipment, it is also important to have support. A technology coordinator must organize training and provide ongoing support in the computer room
so that teachers gradually learn to feel confident in the computer room. Julian Lynch conducted a research as part of a doctoral study to find out "what issues arise for teachers,
particularly non-computer specialist teachers, as they try to incorporate student use of Internet-based technologies into their teaching" (Lynch, 2000). Her results revealed that "human
factors involved in the introduction of educational technology were often neglected, with an over-concentration on the provision of hardware and software" (Lynch, 2000). This also fits
with the author's educational school setting where the equipment receives more attention than the teachers' professional development.
The conclusion of "a 1995 report from the federal office of technology assessment (OTA), [revealed that] few schools are doing a good job of infusing
computers into the daily lives of teachers and students" (Cooley, 1998) sums up the situation in the author's school setting. Even though the statement was made almost fifteen years ago,
it still applies. There are many obstacles facing successful implementation of technology into schools today. "Integrating technology into teaching and learning is a slow, time-consuming
process that requires substantial levels of support and encouragement (Byrom, and Bingham, 2001, p 3).
Patience, understanding, and motivation are essential to
a successful implementation of technology.
Byrom, E., and Bingham, M. (2001). Factors influencing the effective use of technology in teaching and learning. Retrieved March 18, 2004, from
Conner, D. (2002, April 12). Technology planning: Closing the communications gap Education World. Retrieved March 19, 2004, from
Cooley, V. E. (1998, June). Creating a community of technology users leads to some hard-won realizations. Retrieved on March 12, 2002 from
Cuban, L. (1999, October 10). Techno-reformers and classroom teachers. Education Week on the web. Retrieved March 1, 2004, from
Dyrli, O. E., and Kinnaman, D. E. (1994, January). Gaining access to technology: First step in making a difference for your students. Technology and
Learning, pp 16-50.
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Gahala, J. (2001, October). Critical issue: Promoting technology use in schools. Retrieved March 29, 2004, from
Leggett, W. R., & Persichitte, K. A. (n.d). Blood, sweat, and tears: 50 years of technology. Retrieved on March 19, 2004, from
Lynch, J. (2000, September 7-10). Teacher access to computer-based information and communication technology: Resources are not the whole answer.
Retrieved March 29, 2004, from http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001493.htm
McKenzie, J. (1999, May). Strategic deployment of hardware to maximize readiness, staff use and student achievement. The Educational Technology Journal.
8 (8). Retrieved March 18, 2004, from http://www.fno.org/may99/strategic.html
NETS, (2002). Essential conditions to make it happen. Retrieved January 30, 2004, from
Norman, M. M. (2000). The human side of school technology. Education Digest, 65 (7). P. 45-53.