6 reasons why teachers don’t use technology in the classroom — what can EdTech companies learn?

Anne Gläsel
Jun 28, 2018 · 6 min read

During high school, I had the chance to use tech during my lessons. My classmates and I were asked to do PowerPoint Presentations and write homework essays using Word. We even had a computer lab to learn to type and do some online quizzes.

Soon, a bulky interactive board was installed in our science lab. For sure it was not a very disruptive technology, but as students, we appreciated it a lot as it sometimes made our lessons more interactive.

10 years later and it seems not much has changed.

The students of today, who are considered to be “Digital Natives” and who should be preparing and gaining skills for the future, seem to have the same curriculum and learn through the same methods that I (and previous generations) used to.

So it seems that the experience that some students have in school today is not adapted to the present nor the future.

How come modern curriculums and tools haven’t been embraced at schools?

We have seen the rise of EdTech around the world during the last few years. With technology in the palms of our hands, learning and skill development has never been easier.

However, EdTech solutions (even STEM) are still lacking in most schools around the world.

But why?

During our first EdTech Meetup in Poznań last month, I spoke to some local teachers about the obstacles they face when implementing EdTech solutions.

Milena Piasecka, the Product Manager at Learn Teach Explore, and Dorota Czech-Czerniak, a Maths Teacher at SSP, giving a short introduction about the mathematical escape room challenge using technologies during of meetup.
Participants of our EdTech Meetup using “The Heist” a collaborative VR game developed by Setapp.

Of course, money and school budgets are obstacles #1. But as expected, there is more to it. So let me present the 6 most common problems and barriers that teachers face in their schools.

Let’s dive in!

1. “Not all teachers at school want to use new tech.”

Some tech-savvy teachers encounter resistance from their colleagues who are not so keen to adopt new technologies, and according to one primary school teacher, if more teachers were more open to new tools or a particular app, then the school administration would probably get it for them.

Moreover, some teachers would love to have a specific device or app for a particular class that they are teaching, e.g. Physics, Maths, Biology, but because other educators don’t know or don’t want to understand the benefits or the possibilities of that particular type of tool, they down-vote it or simply reject investing in them.

2. “The school bought some devices or apps, but both I and other colleagues don’t know how to use them efficiently.”

It seems that some schools have decided to invest in some tools to digitalise the school, or to support classrooms. Yay!

However, the majority of them haven’t trained the teachers to properly use them or shine some light on how to effectively use these solutions to enhance their lesson plans. As a result, the hardware and apps don’t get used and get forgotten.

“My school decided to invest in some tablets and learning apps, but we didn’t know what to use them for after 1–2 lessons… Now they are just laying there.”

3. “Lesson Plans accompanying the apps are missing!”

Teachers often get discouraged when they find a solution and realise that they have no idea how they can implement it in their classroom for the semester or even the whole year.

If the teacher could get those lesson plans or suggestions in advance then they believe that it will help them convince school directors to buy the solution. But first, they need a little push, inspiration, and guidance from the supplier.

4. “EdTech providers are not explanatory enough. I want to see clear examples and read about the benefits in a clear and transparent way.”

Communication is key. Teachers who have had encounters with EdTech companies feel that they weren’t explanatory enough about the value of their product.

They are still left with questions like:

  • What can I do with it that I can’t already do now?
  • Where can I read about case studies of other schools?
  • How can you guarantee that it will solve the problem that you are targeting?
  • Will it really make a difference and if so how?

Teachers want to know and understand why the product is good and easy to use. This is especially true for teachers that are reluctant about technology. So if you own an EdTech company, make sure your team is addressing these questions.

5. “I am afraid of losing control of the classroom.”

Some teachers have expressed their fear of not being able to control what kids do on their screens. They also think that if technology is introduced in their lessons then kids wouldn’t be so interested in the lesson and the content itself.

Also, one high-school teacher explained that she wouldn’t use technology in the classroom because of her lack of confidence using the devices and tools.

“Kids know how to use these things more than I do, I fear that I wouldn’t be able to control them and keep them focused”

6. “ Good Internet connection is a great challenge.”

Teachers prefer applications and tools that can work offline. It ensures the teacher that students can use them over and over again without having any problems due to a bad Wifi connection.

Therefore, some teachers with unstable or low-speed internet will get hesitant about downloading certain apps if they know that it will interfere or even suspend their lessons.

Key Take-Aways for EdTech companies

Even though the above reasons represent only a small fraction of the difficulties teachers encounter. They might be extremely helpful for the development and improvement of your EdTech product.

And here’s how..

  1. Make sure that throughout your communication channels you inform and communicate about real case studies, and give real proof of the benefits of using your solution.
  2. If your product allows it, consider developing an offline version of your app, or give the option to consume content without using wifi all the time. Many schools have unstable (or slow) internet connections that demotivate teachers to use online tools.
  3. Provide lesson plans (or guides) along with your tool. Chances are that you want to facilitate or enhance lessons by supporting teachers to deliver exceptional learning experiences with the help of your digital tool. So do that. Help teachers to focus on teaching by saving them tons of time with the help of an easy to follow manual and lesson plan suggestions.
  4. Provide training or consultancy sessions for your clients. More often than not, teachers believe that they are not “good enough” to use digital products. Your company must work hard to ensure them that anyone can learn how to use your products, and if necessary you are going to be there to help them.
  5. In addition to the above-mentioned point: provide online events to train potential users, e.g. through webinars.

Wrap up

I hope you’ll find these insights useful when developing and/or improving your EdTech product. If you are a teacher or you have other insights please write thenm down in the comments! The community can only benefit if more people share their knowledge and experience.

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