Why College Professors Struggle with Education Technology

Some striking recent statistics indicate that although 92% of educators say that they would like to use more education technology in their classroom in the future (because they believe it enhances learner engagement and learning outcomes). Yet, only 14% of them utilize digital learning materials on a week-by-week basis. Professors account for a huge proportion of the educators who, though they appreciate the value of education technology, do not actually use it to teach. So why is there such resistance toward education technology in the higher education classroom?

One reason is the power of tradition at colleges and universities. The time-honored dynamic of the expert lecturer sharing their wisdom with a classroom of learners, engaging with them, and motivating them to be intellectually the best they can be remains at the heart of higher education. This model has its positives as it fosters a human relationship between educator and learner, although the former impart their expertise. 

The importance of being able to work with a ‘big name’ in the higher education setting is perhaps most pronounced when students choose a thesis advisor. Most higher education professionals fear that education technology will replace this traditional teaching model, so they resist adopting it. This does not need to be the case at all: education technology is not a replacement for educators. When used effectively, it is a complement to these educators’ existing practices. 

Another reason why professors still struggle with education technology is a lack of training. Older professors did not receive any training on education technology when they were learning to teach in higher education because education technology was not around then. But even today there is a shortage of training on education technology, both in the form of ongoing training for professors and in initial training for professionals. In sum: professors still struggle with education technology because they don’t know the full range of education technology out there, and they also don’t always know how to utilize it properly.

It’s time for professors to shake off their fear of education technology and, supported by a robust institutional IT team, to begin to harness its benefits. As this summary shows, education technology has numerous advantages for higher education, such as boosting learner retention. What do you think about the issue?

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