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What Obstacles Prevent Teachers from Using Technology?

In this week’s blog we ask YOU a question: What are the obstacles – the barriers – that prevent K-12 teachers from using technology in their classroom? Please, tell us: post a comment on our blog; send us an email ([email protected]). Do it now; don’t wait!!

We need to get something clear at the outset:

  • We (CN & ES) have been and continue to be advocates for the use of computing  in the classroom. Everyone knows that we have spent countless hours creating educational technology and countless hours in K-12 classrooms trying to help teachers use technology. We believe to our core that technology can make a difference in the education of children.

No one can say we aren’t staunch supporters for the value of computing technology in K-12.

With that as background, here are three recent, very troubling experiences:

  • At (elementary) school A, teachers have carts of iPads in their rooms. However, after six weeks of classes, the iPads have not been used even once in many of the teacher’s classrooms.
  • At (elementary) school B, there is a cart of brand new laptops. But the room has been so arranged that there is no way to get the cart out of the room!  A teacher would need to make several trips between the cart and the classroom, taking a few out of the cart at a time. Ditto for returning the laptops.
  • At (middle) school C, there are carts of iPads sitting unused. Why? We were told that, apparently, “no one knows what the password is to the school network.”

We personally experienced all three situations. We are not making up “stories.”

We feel, quite candidly, that these experiences are not isolated ones; that indeed there are carts of iPads sitting ... and sitting ... and sitting. There are computer labs that are used ... infrequently. Etc. 

In 2003, we carried out a “Snapshot Survey” in school districts all around the country to better understand the state of technology use in K-12. Our findings, “No Access, No Use, No Impact: Snapshot Surveys of Educational Technology In K-12” were ... sobering. The fundamental reason for not using technology was – there wasn’t technology to use! But that was 10+ years ago!

It would be very interesting to carry out another round of Snapshot Surveys.  We are willing, but we aren’t so sure districts will be as welcoming this time around.

So, we ask you, our readers, please tell us:

  • Is it true that there are computers in your school, or schools you know about, that are not being used on a regular basis?
  • If so, then what are the obstacles preventing their use?

We are asking you, who are savvy educational technology users, to comment on the non-use of educational technology. That is a bit off-putting – and we apologize.

But OUR goal – and YOUR goal, too – is to figure out how to help all teachers use technology.

Please tell us: What are the obstacles to the use of computers in the classroom? 

  • For example, is access still an issue?
  • In our opinion, the lack of good curricular materials that guide teachers in using technology is one of those obstacles. Is that true?
  • And?
  • And?

Post a comment to this blog, please.

Or, please send your comments to us at: [email protected]

We will gather up your comments and post them in a subsequent blog – without your names/locations, of course!

We, tech-savvy educators, know that technology provides an amazing opportunity for teaching and learning. But, apparently not everyone in education feels the way we do. So:

  • Step 1: Identify the obstacles.
  • Step 2: Remove the obstacles.

Let’s do it!

About the Authors

Cathie Norris is a Regents Professor and Chair in the Department of Learning Technologies, School of Information at the University of North Texas. Visit her site at

Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of CSE, College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Visit his site at

Find more from Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris at their Reinventing Curriculum blog at