What is the biggest obstacle schools face with investing in or implementing technology?
The biggest problem I see with technology in schools is the ability to pull the trigger on it and let it flourish. I'm sure there are many reasons for this from financial, political, or even organizational. Personally, I think it is the "exponential growth. The smartphone in your pocket provides a better communication tool than the President of the United States had access to just 25 years ago, and provides access to more data than he had access to just 10 years ago" (Barton, 2013).
This growth is summed up in Moore's Law where the Intel co-founder claimed the processing power of computers would double every two years (Barton, 2013). He was right, sort of. It is possibly happening faster than that. The rate of change in the technological field means that what a school will buy for education will be outdated within a year or two. I firmly believe, especially with all the scientific discovery happening every week, that most subjects in school should be reexamined regularly, but technology has the potential to change the paradigm. We are too hooked on books that we try and teach out of for a decade when the information contained within it might be outdated. We need a complete change in the fundamental way we view educational "materials". This is where I believe pulling the trigger on technology will revolutionize education. It's not technology that needs education, it's education that needs technology to change the paradigm and get us past the factory school idea. Instead of books, we can use computers (maybe not a one-to-one ratio for students, but enough that each student has regular access in school). Perhaps, as I am attempting at my school, we can teach off the screen instead of out of the book. This means we (teachers) can adapt to changing information within the school year and between the school year because we aren't tied down to a book's information. This means that the technology can be updated with less cost than a one-to-one program because we can rotate. The youngest children can get access to the oldest computers to learn the basics and as they get older they get the newer and newer materials. And/or the teachers computers running the classroom materials could be regularly updated since they are the smallest number.
I admit this doesn't solve the problem with the digital divide, but perhaps it can help change things enough that new ideas can flourish and solve that problem. Maybe connecting rural villages in other parts of the world with urban centers via the internet can mean that those children can be 'in class' with the other students using live-feed technology. Classrooms and materials can change, but the goal remains the same. If the goal is being hindered by the classroom or the material, why not change the material or classroom to reach that goal?
What is the digital divide?
There are people out there attempting to solve this problem. Click below for another example of a group trying to solve the digital divide.
What are policy-makers doing to help this in the USA? Click below for more information.
Barton, R. (2013, Jan. 22) Technology is innovating and expanding at an exponential rate. Mainstay Technologies. Retrieved from http://www.mstech.com/nh-it-blog.php?show=171