Integrating technology can be an opportunity and challenge in any subject area. You will always have the lurking technical problems, the issues of time, lack of teacher training and financial burdens. These issues do not discriminate between subject areas. However, for this post I am going to focus on the obstacles and possible solutions involved with integrating technology into the science classroom.
Obstacles & Solutions
Educational technologist, Roblyer (2016), points out that elementary teachers face the obstacle of lack of preparation or background knowledge (p. 320). At the lower elementary level, every teacher is a teacher of every subject area. With this comes unique challenges. A teacher is expected to teach content areas that are not necessarily their strengths, favorites or field of major. This seems to manifest itself often when it comes to the sciences. Some elementary teachers have not been educated to a high level of science education as would be their secondary counterparts.
Roblyer (2016) suggests a possible solution for this is to leverage technology as a means of teacher professional development (p. 320). It is important to use technology where appropriate for students, but also for teacher development. Roblyer stated that: “online PD opportunities increase access for elementary teachers to this important area” (2016, p. 320).
Another issue with technology integration is the lack of time to integrate authentic scientific inquiry. We see teachers shy away from investigations, hands-on activities, interactives and problem-based learning as they try to check all the standards being covered before the end of the year. Often teachers will not include technology as they find it is another thing to be covered rather than viewing it as a way to enhance content that is already being taught.
The solution for this is to have teachers integrate into what they are already doing through authentic online projects. They can capitalize on tech by using it to enhance what they are already trying to teach. Robyler suggests that “internet projects provide environments that support all phases of an authentic scientific inquiry experience” (p. 322). And it is through scientific inquiry that we grow a student’s scientific literacy to better our world’s future.
It is important for technology integration to be built into science unit and curriculum development. As teachers map out a unit and develop its course, technology integration should be planned and written into the development rather than attempted as an afterthought.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.