Technology for ESL
While many education experts tout the advantages of incorporating technology into the school curriculum and the classroom, technology can sometimes hinder learning and the educational process. Because schools occasionally purchase technology before their systems and educators are adequately equipped for and trained to use it effectively, technology sometimes goes unused or actually prevents student learning. Becoming aware of some of the disadvantages in utilizing technology in the classrooms can allow schools to better prepare for the widespread use of computers and devices by their student and teacher populations.
Lack of Support
While technology can be a great addition to the classroom, it also can be a source of frustration for both the teacher and the student. Unless the teacher is well trained in technology and can support the hardware in the classroom, a technology expert will be needed to troubleshoot problems. If schools cannot support the purchased technology, it essentially renders it useless in times of crisis or disrepair. Additionally, technology often needs frequent maintenance to keep it in good condition for use.
Inadequate Teaching Methodology
Technology does not have a place in classrooms where teachers have not been adequately trained in its implementation. While technology is fun and can add interest for students, it is not fully integrated until students are learning from technology and not just with technology. In other words, using a program to achieve a learning goal is a positive thing; however, transcending the passive use of technology and moving into active use is a skill that takes a lot of time and training.
Teaching theory behind technology education is called constructivism; teacher preparation programs or courses in educational technology teach the concepts of inquiry-based learning. In inquiry-based classrooms or lessons, students are encouraged to research topics under their own guidance and direction with teachers acting as facilitators. This type of thinking and teaching can take years to achieve, and it often requires great expense in terms of both money and time. To use technology most effectively, extensive professional development is required for the classroom teacher.
Because connection problems, downloading issues, policing software and other difficulties can cause road blocks when implementing a lesson in the technology based classroom, teachers sometimes shy away from using it simply because of lack of time. With all of the demands on students, the amount of time spent in the classroom is more and more valuable. To lose 10 minutes a day or class period because of connectivity issues is not feasible, and it's one important reason why technology integration often fails in schools.
Upkeep and Maintenance Expenses
Once technology is purchased for a school, the cost of upkeep and maintenance can be too great for the building to maintain. Outdated software and hardware components can be incompatible with available programs. Also, the cost of repairing broken equipment may be too expensive for school budgets. In order for a school to successfully implement technology, there must be a rolling replacement or updating plan in place to keep technology current and useful.
Many schools today have curricula and programs based on state or national assessments. The majority of these tests and measures are paper-and-pencil based in order to make them accessible for all students and schools. Because learning with technology involves typing input into a computer, there is a disconnect between the assessments that determine government funding and the use of technology in the classroom. To adequately prepare for these tests, students need practice with authentic assessments most closely imitating those of the standardized test.