We see two overarching mistakes happening when it comes to using technology in education. On one hand, there's the urge to jump into advanced tools like AI and VR before fully evaluating if they truly serve learner needs. The novelty of cutting-edge tech shouldn't outweigh evidence-based learning design.
On the other hand, technology is often underutilized as a mere efficiency tool to do the same old tasks, but just faster. While automation has a place, tech's true power lies in its ability to transform learning in innovative ways.
In this article, we outline 10 common missteps with technology in education. We also provide recommendations for using tech as a step in the right direction. By starting with learner-centered design, then selecting and integrating the right tech to meet objectives, educators can realize the full potential of technology to create captivating, effective learning.
10 Missteps of Technology in Education...and how to avoid them
When integrating technology into learning, sometimes educators get caught up in the novelty of advanced tools without considering their actual fit, or they simply digitize traditional materials without rethinking their design. To leverage technology thoughtfully, it’s important to avoid these missteps and remain focused on serving learner needs.
Take a look at these 10 common technology integration mistakes along with our recommendations to confidently step forward with new technology in education.
1. Misalignment with Learning Objectives
When technology takes the lead, there's a risk of selecting tools and platforms based on their novelty rather than their ability to support specific learning objectives. This can lead to a mismatch between the technology and the educational goals.
We Recommend Matching Technology to Learning Goals
Ensure that the technology directly supports one or more defined learning objectives. If the connection is unclear or weak, reconsider its use in the learning experience.
2. Superficial Engagement
Technology-driven learning experiences might prioritize superficial engagement with the tools themselves over deep learning and critical thinking. Learners can become focused on navigating interfaces and features rather than mastering the subject matter.
We Recommend Prioritizing Active Learning
Choose technology that engages learners actively, allowing them to apply and demonstrate knowledge rather than passively consuming content.
3. Overwhelming Complexity
Complex technology interfaces and functionalities can overwhelm learners, particularly those who are less tech-savvy. Troubleshooting technical issues and dealing with complicated setups can consume valuable learning time.
We Recommend Testing Before Wide Scale Implementation
Test new technologies with small groups before widespread adoption to gauge their effectiveness and address any issues like complexity that may arise.
4. Loss of Interactivity
Some technology solutions may replace valuable face-to-face interactions or hands-on learning experiences. This loss of interactivity can hinder the development of essential social and practical skills.
We Recommend Maintaining a Focus on Learners’ Needs
Resist the temptation to adopt new tools without a clear connection to the specific learning needs and objectives of your learners.
5. Lack of Personalization
Overreliance on technology can lead to a one-size-fits-all approach, neglecting the diverse needs and learning styles of individual students. Personalization can be challenging to achieve in tech-driven learning environments.
We Recommend Embracing Universal Design
Select tools that offer multiple modes of representation, action, and engagement to cater to diverse learners and their varying needs.
6. Potential for Isolation
In certain cases, technology can lead to learner isolation, as students spend more time interacting with screens and less time interacting with peers and instructors. This isolation can have social and emotional consequences.
We Recommend Emphasizing Human Connection
Use technology to enhance the learner-teacher bond and create more learner-centered experiences, ensuring that it complements the learning process.
7. High Costs of Maintenance and Turnover
Implementing and maintaining technology in learning can be expensive. Schools and institutions may face high upfront costs for hardware and software, ongoing maintenance expenses, and the need for technical support staff. Many organizations see turnover within their tech team, which can add an additional challenge to keep enough staff available who are properly trained on the technology.
We Recommend Budgeting for Support
Allocate resources for instructor training and technical support to facilitate the smooth integration of new technology.
8. Resistance and Pushback
Educators, students, and parents may resist technology-driven learning experiences, leading to challenges in adoption and acceptance. Resistance can result from concerns about privacy, security, or skepticism about the effectiveness of technology in education.
We Recommend Involving Learners
Start by involving learners and those who support learners (colleagues, parents, teachers, etc.) in the decision-making process. Solicit their input, let them test new tools, and gather their feedback.
9. Overemphasis on Assessment
Technology often provides opportunities for data collection and assessment. While assessment is crucial, an overemphasis on it can lead to a narrow focus on test scores and neglect the broader aspects of education, such as creativity and critical thinking.
We Recommend Measuring Learning Outcomes
Collect data on competency gains, completion rates, and learner satisfaction to evaluate tech's effectiveness, not just assessment data.
10. Loss of Teacher Autonomy
In some cases, technology-driven learning may restrict teachers' autonomy and creativity in designing and delivering lessons. They may feel constrained by pre-packaged digital content and assessments.
We Recommend Evaluating Research
Rely on peer-reviewed studies and evidence when assessing the impact of technology on learning outcomes. Don't just rely on vendor claims.
Learning First, Technology Second
You’ll find exciting new technologies everywhere you look, which makes it easy to lose sight of learning fundamentals. Start by getting clear on your goals and how to best serve your learners. Then use technology as a powerful way to meaningfully enhance learning experiences and outcomes.
Rather than simply digitizing traditional practices, technology has the power to reimagine learning for the future. Technology can help create an educational environment that is learner-centered, personal, collaborative, creative, ethical, and transformative, but that happens by starting on the learner and leveraging technology to effectively meet needs, not the other way around.
Erin recently discussed this topic on the Women Talking About Learning Podcast. Take a listen HERE!