The Dark Side of Tech in the Classroom: Caveats for Implementing Tech in Schools

It’s true that technology in the classroom can be a helpful thing. There are numerous reasons to implement tech in the classroom. And, when used properly and to its fullest potential, tech in the classroom can be a downright exciting and fun experience. But, there can be a dark side to tech in the classroom.

In an effort to improve education, many school districts have turned to technology as a solution. Oftentimes, technology is thrown into classrooms while the school administrators sit back and wait for the high test scores to roll in. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sure, there are a couple of obvious things that most are aware of when implementing tech, like the cost and maintenance of the technology. But, there are a few more specific things to be aware of before implementing tech into your classroom.

1. Students may not be interested in activities that don’t use technology.

After being exposed to exercises using technology, namely computers, students may be hard to motivate in terms of doing the same work without technology. For example, students write an essay using a Chromebook. The entire process is done on the laptop, from draft, to editing, to final draft, everything is completed on the computer. They even turn it in by emailing it to the teacher or through such classroom management applications like Google Classroom. The following week the students are asked to write an essay, but this time, without the Chromebook (for whatever reason, the computers are not available that week). The first question out of their mouths is “why can’t we do the assignment on the computer?” The students will need extra motivation to complete the assignment without the technology. Most will prefer to use the computer than doing it the old fashioned way.

2. Teachers in-service training is generally needed when introducing new technology — another workshop or staff development they don’t have time for.

Teaching is much like many professions in that you may have people that have been in the teaching profession for a long time. Herein lies the problem. Technology wasn’t as advanced 20 or 30 years ago as it is today. Therefore, there are teachers who have been teaching the content in much the same way for the last 30 years and its worked fine for them.

Getting veteran teachers to try a new teaching method, let alone something they have to take time and learn, can be something of a chore. And, as teachers know, it means training. Introducing technology into a school requires that teachers are shown how to use it, otherwise there isn’t much point. That means taking time from teachers that they really don’t have.

Teachers spend six or seven hours in a classroom but as most teachers know, a lot of their teaching time is dedicated to preparation. After all, someone has to put together those Powerpoints and worksheets as well as enter student work into their grade book. Attending training on something entirely new will take them away from their necessary tasks.

3. Technology could prove to be a distraction for students.

Instead of using their phones for research, students are tempted to text each other or use social media.

It seems silly to have these powerful computers in their pockets and not be able to conduct research on a project that they’re working on in class. But, although they are powerful research tools, the smart phones can prove to be a distraction. Sure, the student might access needed information for an assignment. But, once they’ve completed the research, oh what a tempting device their phone is. The phone is on, it’s in their hands staring back at them, why not check email or send a quick text? And, they can’t stop at just one text because they’ll get a return text, and they most certainly have to reply. Or, perhaps they have to reply to that email they just received. And that new game they’ve downloaded, it hasn’t even played yet, what could it hurt to open it and check it out. Before you know it, the student is spending more time on their phone for recreational purposes than on the research as was originally intended.

4. Teachers use it because “they” like using it, with little concern for the students.

This one is a call for teachers to police themselves. So here’s the scenario: A teacher has bought a shiny new laptop over the weekend with some brand new presentation software. Loving their new computer, the teacher spends all weekend putting together new presentations because they love their new computer and software. Come Monday, the teacher shows off the new computer by giving a presentation of the material at hand. On the surface, this is not such a terrible thing. But now, we’re in week 2 of the new presentations with the new computer, then week 3. The teacher can fall into the trap of loving to use his technology so much that he neglects the students. Sure, he’s giving them the material. But, as teachers know, he has to change up his lesson planning a little bit.

So, before implementing technology in your classroom or introducing it to your teachers as an administrator, be aware that there are caveats. If used properly, tech in education can fabulous tool for learning.