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Finding solutions to technological challenges

In this video, education professionals discuss ways of overcoming the challenges teachers can face when using technology.

In the video, teachers talk about the challenges of using technology as well as the solutions to problems that they have found. We recommend selecting the English subtitles at the bottom of the screen, as the video contains both English and Arabic.

Even though we may be enthusiastic about technology, it is not a good idea to pretend there are no problems with it. Only by facing up to the problems, can we hope to find solutions. So in this step, we will try to identify the problems and maybe we can go some way to solving them together?

Different kinds of challenges

There are different types of challenges you might encounter when engaging with teachnology :

  • technical,
  • personal knowledge and skills,
  • leadership and organisational issues.

Technical

The technical problems are ever present: technology does not always work. In fact, you can almost guarantee it to fail at the most inconvenient time! For teachers working in low resourced schools, access to equipment, broadband internet and even power can be a problem.

Some of the educators we have encountered already have had technical solutions, however. Some think ahead with alternative plans in case things do not work. Some are using technology that does not require an internet connection. For example, the Tabshoura box that Nayla demonstrated does not need an internet connection, because all the resources are loaded onto the box, and to access them the students connect to the box, rather than an online website.

And solar energy could also be useful if power is a problem. Many people have ‘work arounds’ to deal with technological failings. Perhaps we could learn from each other what the best tips are?

Personal

Problems with personal knowledge and skills are also widespread. Many people are anxious about using technology because they feel they do not know enough. Added to this, many people think (wrongly!) that young people can use technology without any issues, and older people inevitably struggle. This not the case – for the young, or old. This is a fairly straightforward problem to solve. By participating in Transforming Education in Challenging Environments, you are already learning what it is like to learn through technology, and this is the most valuable knowledge you can have when beginning to design digital learning experiences for your own classes.

It is also worth remembering that there is one characteristic that marks out someone who is good at using technology – a willingness to try things out. This means simply clicking on a button to find out what happens, or having a go at a tool someone recommended. Just being ready try things out will give you most of the technological knowledge that the ‘experts’ seem to possess. And you can use your own experience as a guide – if you cannot use something easily, the chances are that your learners will struggle. Trust your own experience to choose which tools will work for you.

Organisational

Even if teachers are willing to try, school leadership and organisation can be slow to encourage or take risks with technology. This often means that teachers are forced to invest their own tools when it would be simpler if the whole school provided solutions. Sometimes the school may have invested in technology, but it is the wrong sort and so stifles the teachers’ attempts to engage.

It is challenging to solve these problems, but the more knowledge that teachers have, the better able they will be to press for institutional solutions to this problem.

Exercise

On this Finding Solutions to Technological Challenges Padlet you will find three columns for the types of challenges we face: technical, personal, organisational.

Under each column add a specific instance of a challenge you face relevant to that category. Then look at other people’s posts, and reply with a potential solution they could try.

Over to you

Reflect on the challenges you have faced and those that other participants have posed on the Padlet. What are the most difficult obstacles for teachers trying to use more digital methods? Have you found any useful solutions (either from the Padlet or from your own experience) that you can share with other teachers about how to overcome difficulties?

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Transforming Education in Challenging Environments

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