Ed Tech 501 Challenges in Educational Technology

Over the past couple weeks, we read the New Media Consortium’s Annual Horizon Report on both trends and challenges in adopting technology in K-12 educational settings, as well as up and coming technology in grades K-12.  The report identifies six trends, six challenges,and six areas to adopt in the classroom.

The six trends in educational technology according to Johnson and Cummins are:

1. Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models.

2. The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators.

3. As the cost of technology drops and school districts revise and open up their access policies, it is becoming increasingly common for students to bring their own mobile devices.

4. People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want.

5. Technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed.

6. There is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based, active learning. (p7).

These trends have varied sources, but paramount is that technology is advancing,and our students need to have access to technology to fully engage in their learning.

The six challenges in educational technology according to Johnson and Cummins are:

1. Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession, especially teaching.

2. K-12 must address the increased blending of formal and informal learning.

3. The demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices.

4. Institutional barriers present formidable challenges to moving forward in a constructive way with emerging technologies.

5. Learning that incorporates real life experiences is not occurring enough and is  undervalued when it does take place.

6. Many activities related to learning and education take place outside the walls of the classroom and thus are not part of traditional learning metrics. (pp 9-10).

Another key challenge that is mentioned, but not included as one of the six is individual district’s constraints in terms of policy, human resources, budget, and physical plant.   

Lastly, the report reviews six emerging technologies.  The technologies are broken into three different time frames one year or less, two to three years, and and four to five years out.  The six technologies are as follows according to Johnson and Cummins:

One year or less

1. Mobile Devices

2. Tablet Computing

Two to three years

3. Game based Learning

4. Personal Learning Environments

Four to Five years out

5. Augmented reality

6. Natural User Interfaces

I thought about the trends, challenges, and possibilities listed in the report.  Our assignment was to think about the challenges listed in the report, and how one (or more) of the challenges relate to experiences in my class, and ultimately propose a solution.  We also needed to create an Xtranormal video to go along with the challenge(s).  I chose challenges 1-3, as they relate to accessing technology in the classroom.

 For my classroom, I see two obstacles.  I would like to create a student centered curriculum, where students have some freedom in choosing how they learn the standards and goals of the class.  As an integral piece of that, my students need to have access to technology to research, collaborate, share and create.  Currently our school has  desk-top computers in the library which can house about 40 students per period.  Our department also has a mobile laptop cart.  These are good starts to accessing technology, but our school has 1500 students, and the laptop cart is shared by 14 teachers.  As one might imagine, it is not always easy to access technology when needed.  In order to create a more student centered, project based classroom environment, I need to have access to technology in my classroom as needed.

There are two options available for implementing a one to one computing initiative, one, where the school provides the same type of device for all students, or a BYOD program where students bring their own electronics to school.  The former can be quite cost prohibitive, as it requires not only building the wireless infrastructure, but also buying, maintaining, and upgrading the devices.  For some districts, this is not feasible.   For example, Edina, Minnesota piloted a one to one computing strategy in the 2008-2009 school year, but realized “one to one computing is financially unsustainable” (Wong).  The Edina school district also did a study that suggested 55% of students prefer doing their homework on their own devices, rather than the district provided devices.  Accordingly,the district decided to adopt a BYOD program, where students were able to bring their own devices to school.  The district used the money that would have been spent on devices to “to train teachers and to build the technology infrastructure that would be needed to support BYOD. Specifically, the IT department beefed up the wireless network in its two middle schools and the high school and standardized on a set of cloud-based applications.” (Wong).  One concern about BYOD is that students do not always bring their devices with them or that students do not have their own devices.  The Hanover, PA district has 175 laptops on hand for students to use if they do not have one of their own or if they do not bring one with them.  According to the Hanover district, they are still working on this piece of the puzzle. (Wong).

When the Edina, Minnesota school district made the switch from one to one computing to BYOD, “91% of students reported accessing their own devices improved their learning, the majority of parents reported that their children were more organized, and completed more of their assignments, and lastly 97% of staff report that BYOD combined with a robust laptop cart program enhanced instruction”. (Walker).  It is in this light, that I chose implementing a BYOD for my challenge.

It is critical for a district to have a clear program and plan before beginning to implement any one to one or BYOD program   Studies show that to improve student achievement, any one to one program must have clear planning and implementation. (Herbert).  

The Edina district lays out 6 guidelines for a successful BYOD program including:

1. Define goals.  In order to be successful the district must have a clear picture of why/ how technology is important in the classroom.

2. Prepare the Infrastructure.  Before a school can roll out a program, the wireless network needs to in place and tested.  Schools should have access to cloud applications.  Also, schools need to have the necessary filters in place to ensure students are accessing appropriate sites.

3. Set Policy. Set acceptable use policy, be sure handbook is updated with policies.

4. Communicate with staff, students, parents. Some districts require permission slips and parent meeting before students can use their own devices.

5. Professional Development in terms of classroom management, curriculum integration ideas and differentiated products.  “Teachers should remember that there is often an analog equivalent to a student’s use of a device in the classroom. The same students who daydream out the window, doodle or write notes in the analog world will likely find ways to distract themselves in the digital world.” (Walker).

6. Address Equity and access to technology.  Some ideas include having a laptop cart available for students to sign out a laptop as needed.  Increase media center hours for students to work on computers before or after school.

Challenges in the assignment.

At first glance, I had a good solid plan for completing the assignment.  However, the more I read, and re-read the instructions, the more, I realized, I had to do.  I knew with some clarity, that the topic I had to research is obtaining technology in the classroom, but researching the different papers proved to be extremely time consuming.  Also, the Xtranormal video, although not difficult was time consuming.  I also wanted to keep my video simple to ensure that it was free technology.  It is important for me, as a teacher, to try free tech tools to determine their potential in my classroom, and free access is very important.   Playing with the camera angles was also time consuming.  After completing this assignment, I have a better idea of how to begin the conversation with school administration about the importance of integrating technology, as well as some basic information on how to begin to plan for any program.

Here is the xtranormal video.



Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from:  http://www.nmc.org/

Herbert, M. The advantages of Properly Implemented One to One technology.  District Administration. (November 2010).  Retrieved from: http://www.districtadministration.com/article/advantages-properly-implemented-one-one-technology

Walker, M. (2012).  6 Steps for increasing student access with BYOD.  Retrieved from: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2012/03/6-steps-increasing-student-access-byod

Wong, W. (Spring 2012). One to One or BYOD? Districts explain thinking behind student computing initiatives. Ed Tech Magazine, Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2012/04/one-one-or-byod-districts-explain-thinking-behind-student-computing-initiatives

I chose the following AECT standards…

3.1 Media Utilization
3.1.1 Identify key factors in selecting and using technologies appropriate for learning situations specified in the instructional design process

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations
3.2.1 Identify strategies for the diffusion, adoption, and dissemination of innovations in learning communities.

3.2.2* Publicize the value of school media programs within the school, community, and local school district.

3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization
3.3.1 Use appropriate instructional materials and strategies in various learning contexts.3.3.2 Identify and apply techniques for integrating SMETS innovations in various learning contexts.
3.3.3 Identify strategies to maintain use after initial adoption.

I chose these because the project involved identifying strategies to adopt new technology.  I hope to share this with my principal to at least begin the discussion of implementing a technology policy and program.



8 responses to “Ed Tech 501 Challenges in Educational Technology

  1. Great job of giving an in depth outlook into your personal goals and ideas posed by the challenge you addressed. When learning is presented in an organized manner in which students are given tools (BYOD) to express freedom and creativity, I believe life long interest in learning develops.

  2. I think BYOD is an excellent idea! I don’t understand why our schools wouldn’t allow it? It seems like the “budget” problem can be solved by implementing BYOD. I love the dialogue you displayed in your video. I too have a better idea of how a conversation with an administrator or a fellow teacher would look like while having a conversation explaining my concerns with the challenges of technology. You did an excellent job.

  3. Caroline,
    I really like the idea of BYOD because it allows teachers to still incorporate technology into classrooms. My concerns with implementing BYOD is faculty training on the different devices (maybe schools can do in house training) and students thinking that because they are allowed to have the devices they can just use them when they want. As you mentioned, schools must update their technology policy. Great job presenting the information!

    • I agree, I have concerns about students using whenever they please, but again, it comes down to school policy. I read somewhere its the 21st century of “passing a note”. Also, in terms of knowing how to use the devices, teachers cannot be experts on all the devices, they need to guide their students as to how to find the content & tools. Clearly, PD is a necessary component. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Hello Caroline,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece before getting to the video. You were extremely detailed and clear. Your video was enjoyable. I used the same stikz men, but on a different background. My greatest challenge in XtraNormal was getting the video angles right. I eventually gave up to the auto angles, after spending two days trying to edit and re-edit the video.


  5. You have some great ideas and goals, Caroline. It’s really refreshing to hear of a teacher that is truly interested in having their students take charge of their own education. I have long thought of BYOD as a must for student-centered learning. I look forward to hearing about how you plan to accomplish this and hope that I can use some of your ideas to help do the same in my District.

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