Sociotechnical and Pedagogical Barriers to Technology Integration

Sociotechnical and Pedagogical Barriers to Technology Integration

Nicholas Wilson (Boston University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0965-3.ch002
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This chapter explore barriers to technology integration in school-based learning environments. Recent research suggests that such barriers play a significant role in reproducing digital education inequities, otherwise known as the “Educational Digital Divide” (Hohlfeld, Ritzhaupt, Barron, & Kemker, 2008). Indeed, barriers to integration significantly impact the frequency and purpose of technology use in the classroom, as well as students' opportunities to develop critical 21st century skills that can be utilized for the betterment of their personal and academic lives. From a sociocultural perspective, many of these barriers implicate elements of institutional structures, as well as teachers' attitudes and beliefs about technology and learning.
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The proliferation of smart phones, tablets, and laptop computers over the past decade has accompanied a growing interest in implementing these tools in classroom instruction, particularly for large scale initiatives such as one-to-one device and ubiquitous computing programs (Zucker, 2004). While commonly heralded as an advance for education, there has been a mounting concern within the education research community that such programs impact students’ classroom experiences and digital skills in ways that exacerbate learning inequalities (Sims, 2014; Warschauer, 2004; Wilson, 2014). As reports that the digital divide is narrowing with regard to children’s access to computational tools and the Internet (no doubt in part to the expansion of one-to-one computing in schools), research over the past few years indicates that inequities persist among children’s uses of digital tools, as well as their technological capital (Zhang, 2010). Indeed, the literature shows that youth from urban, disadvantaged, and marginalized communities continue to experience fewer and less-empowering opportunities than their more affluent counterparts to develop highly-valued technology skills, particularly in school (Barron, Walter, Martin, & Schatz, 2010; Hohlfeld et al., 2008). These and other reports, accordingly, have inspired skepticism among education researchers that technology can serve as a panacea for pedagogical reform, or for improving students’ learning outcomes. Despite commonly held beliefs that the use of digital media and computers in the classroom can make subject matter content more interesting or relevant, and therefore motivate students of all backgrounds to learn, barriers to effective technology integration make realizing the social and educational benefits of learning technologies difficult to actualize. For this reason, digital education research has shifted focus away from issues of access to physical and virtual resources, and instead towards the social and cultural factors that impact youths’ digital learning experiences. The purpose of this summary is to examine a body of selected literature from this small but growing field, that discusses two overarching issues regarding digital education inequities: (1) barriers to technology integration in school-based settings, and (2) the expansion of youths’ action possibilities and opportunities for learning through different uses of technology and digital media.

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