How to avoid technophobia in the classroom: from the idea to full integration of technology

By Alma Fabiani

Published Sep 30, 2021 at 08:00 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes


Are you technophobic? Many teachers, as well as many people in society today, are afraid to use technology. This is primarily due to not fully understanding how computer technology works, along with not knowing how to effectively integrate technology into their work routine. Every teacher wants to use the best tools to help their students learn, but as useful as it can be, technology integration requires long-term staff development time.

Technology integration can be challenging at times, especially on those days when glitches occur. In many cases, these are small glitches, which for experienced technology users are not a problem. However, as states, for novice users, they can be insurmountable. As with all teaching strategies and techniques, there are bumps along the way, which can always be overcome with experience.

Many teachers have transformed what was once nothing more than an idea into full or partial technology integration. They all needed help and support to get where they are today. One thing to remember is that support can come from many surprising places and that keeping an open mind is critical to success in overcoming technophobia. The following tips are based on bumps in the road and technology glitches that appeared in inopportune times.

Basic computer skills are a foundation

In today’s increasingly technology-reliant society, students must learn a basic set of computing skills. Typing, inserting images, searching the internet, and creating graphs and presentations are skills most careers expect of their employees. These basic computing skills provide a foundation for students. That being said, these are also skills that most children can proficiently perform during their middle school years.

Basic computing skills are important but are only a foundation that can then be used to improve 21st-century expertise. Information, media, and technology skills include many of the basics introduced to students, but when these same requirements are used to support others, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, innovation, and career or core subject knowledge, computing becomes engaging and not another rote exercise.

Ask for help to avoid technophobia

There is always someone available in a school to offer technological help. Every school has several technology-savvy teachers today. Some schools even have on-site technology integration specialists or coaches. Do not be afraid to ask for help, because this leads to a better understanding. Just like teachers tell their students every day, there is no such thing as a dumb question.

Learn from students

This does not lead to students thinking you are not in control of the classroom. Students love it when they can share their knowledge with others, especially adults. Many teachers have been able to learn new strategies and techniques from their students. Specific students can also act as technology mentors to other students in the classroom.

Web 2.0 technology integration one step at a time

Begin with Twitter to communicate with other teachers and let students communicate with other students while working on simple projects. Then move to Google Docs to allow students to collaborate on writing projects, presentations, spreadsheets, and develop forms for collecting information. These two tools can be used in any type of collaborative classroom project. The year after, begin to integrate a Wiki or blog into teaching and learning.

Define classroom projects using technology clearly

This is a critical point to ensure that students do not go astray. Provide students with a rubric that clearly defines project expectations, which also provides indirect communication with parents about the project. On many occasions, project and technology issues are merely a result of misinformation, which the use of rubrics resolves. The key is to be specific, however, leaving room for student inquiry.

Allow students freedom under a watchful eye

Become a coach, mentor, and guide for your students—watch them, learn from them, and keep them on track. Teachers’ responsibilities are not relinquished and they sometimes have to lay down the law; however, this becomes less of a problem as students learn to use technology. Let them explore, create, and develop a better understanding of the concepts they are learning.

Making connections with technology

Problem Based Learning (PBL) presents opportunities for teachers to integrate technology in most content areas. PBL integrates common resources for students to collaborate as they solve challenging problems. This strategy allows teachers to move slowly, seek help when needed, and allows their students the freedom to be creative.

Computer activities that support 21st century skills

Integrating technology into a lesson can be a daunting task, but some activities can be simpler to include than others. Research is perhaps the easiest, incorporating many information technology skills, but can go to a higher level when students use their research to create something new or determine a solution to an unusual problem.

Other activities might involve some training or experience on the teacher’s end before introducing the concepts to students. Students could use technology to communicate with other students living in another state or country while creating a project or determining the solution to a problem. They can use special software to create a documentary about a historical event, create an animation to illustrate a story or discuss the meaning of a poem. In each example, students are expected to use higher-order thinking skills, problem-solving skills, collaborate, and be creative in the context of a specific subject. The difference between this and many rigorous activities already present in classrooms is the use of technology.

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