The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption: Technology Will Absolutely Change K12 Learning

By Norris, Cathleen; Soloway, Elliot | District Administration, November-December 2011 | Go to article overview

The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption: Technology Will Absolutely Change K12 Learning


Norris, Cathleen, Soloway, Elliot, District Administration


COMPUTING TECHNOLOGIES have profoundly transformed just about every major organization and field of human endeavor. To take just two examples, Apple is the largest distributor of music in the world, and manufacturing and surgery are the province of robots, not humans.

But K12 still relies on textbooks and pencil pouches. Why have computing technologies failed to transform K12? Here are our 10 barriers to technology adoption.

Barrier #1: Lack of Vision. There is no shortage of excuses for not taking the time to look into the future. The first barrier to technology adoption is not looking past one's proboscis and seeing that "the future is here already; it is just not evenly distributed" (William Gibson).

Barrier #2: Lack of Leadership. If the superintendent or the principal says, "Teachers, we are going to use technology in our school, but you decide how and when," then failure to adopt is assured. There is no shortage of excuses for not taking the time to integrate technology into one's classroom. It takes leadership to say, "Teachers, we are going to use technology in our school and this is not optional."

Barrier #3: Lack of Money. If something is considered important--surprise, surprise--school administrators find the money for that something. Technology must be considered important (see barrier #1). Yes, there is no new money. So what are schools doing now that they need to stop doing in order to pay for the technology? See barrier #2.

Barriers #4, #5, #6: Curriculum, Curriculum, Curriculum. When "New Math" came into classrooms in the late 1970s, math teachers were provided with professionally generated curriculum materials. When graphing calculators came into classrooms in the 1990s, Texas Instruments was there with professionally generated curriculum materials.

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There is a lesson here! As schools now move to one-to-one via BYOD--bring your own device--administrators can't expect to be successful on the backs of teacher-generated curriculum materials. Teachers are not curriculum producers; teachers are, well, teachers.

Where are the digitally based curriculum materials to come from? Digital textbooks are not the answer; they are a costly problem. Perhaps free OER (open education resources) is a partial answer. Curriculum--that is, the lack thereof--is three barriers wide.

Barrier #7: Infrastructure--Tech and Human. …

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