MET:Reluctant Technology Users

From UBC Wiki

There is a long history of individuals and movements opposed to the advent of new technologies. The resistance and reluctance of teachers to engage with computer technologies in education does not follow the extreme example of the original Luddites nor necessarily share the views of Neo-luddites, but reluctant technology users tend to be skeptical about the advantages of using technology and do not automatically subscribe to the belief that technological advances necessarily lead to educational progress. Some authors would even wish that “teachers prove to be more ‘Luddite’, in deed” [1]

Teachers who are reluctant to use technology in everyday teaching, will use technology for email and word-processing, but not use computer technology to enhance the learning experience of their students[2] . Karasavvidis states that “teachers do not enthusiastically embrace technology because it is not compatible with their current practices and when they do they use it to sustain these practices rather than reform them”[3] .


Reasons for reluctance

There are many reasons teachers give for not using technology in their teaching. While there are obviously individual reasons, there are also some reasons that have been explored by a number of researchers and writers.

Generally, they fall into the following categories:

  • Lack of time to incorporate technology into curriculum delivery
  • Lack of available professional development opportunities
  • Teachers do not see how the technology will benefit them in their classroom
  • Lack of access to appropriate, manageable technologies

It was also found that teachers’ pedagogical beliefs are some of the most important factors when discussing reluctance to use technologies”[4]. . Teachers who view computers and other technology as simply tools tend to use them in very rudimentary ways. In these situations, the technology is use more for drill and practice, something many teachers find easier to do with pen and paper since they do not have access to computers at all times.

It has been pointed out that some initiatives to affect better technology use expect “effective computer instruction to emerge from simply mandating it, and treating recalcitrant teachers as if they have attitude problems” [5]. Given this attitude, it is more likely that teachers will become more entrenched and resistant to increased use of technology.

Engaging the reluctant

Several researchers have found that teachers who are reluctant to use computers and technology in their practices will use technology in more effective ways with the proper training and time to learn. One of the easiest is to offer a access to professional development and the time to learn to use the technologies.

It is noted by several researchers that the “powerful mediating role of the school district, site-level leader, or individual classroom teacher seemed to matter more in the final analysis than the mere infusion of new technological tools”[6]. . In order to engage the teachers who are reluctant and resistant to the inclusion of technology into their teaching practices, there needs to be a concerted, systemic plan in place.

Though individual studies focus on specific subject areas, the direction for increased use of technology by students needs to “account for teachers' images and beliefs about mathematics teaching and learning” (Norton et al, 2000).

Some of the ways that have been suggested to help engage teachers in overcoming their resistance to using technology include the following:

    • Ongoing public conversations explicating stakeholders’ (teachers, administrators, parents) pedagogical beliefs, including explicit discussions about the ways in which technology can support those beliefs.
    • Small communities of practice, in which teachers jointly explore new teaching methods, tools, and beliefs, and support each other as they begin transforming classroom practice.
    • Opportunities to observe classroom practices, including technology uses, that are supported by different pedagogical beliefs.
    • Technology tools, introduced gradually, beginning with those that support teachers’ current practices and expanding to those that support higher level goals.
    • Ongoing technical and pedagogical support as teachers develop confidence and competence with the technological tools, as well as the new instructional strategies required to implement a different set of pedagogical beliefs.


Implications for design

Stop Motion Animation


  1. Bryson, Mary, De Castell, Suzanne, New Technologies and the Cultural Ecology of Primary Schooling: Imagining Teachers as Luddites In/Deed, Educational Policy 1998 12: 542
  2. Becker, H. (2000). Findings from the Teaching, Learning, and Computing Survey.Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8, 51.
  3. Karasavvidis, Ilias, Activity Theory as a conceptual framework for understanding teacher approaches to Information and Communication Technologies, Computers & Education, Volume 53, Issue 2, September 2009, Pages 436-444
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ertmer, Peggy, Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration?, Educational Technology Research and Development, 2005-12-01, Volume 53, Issue 4, 25-39, Publisher, Springer Boston
  5. Garrison, Mark J., and Bromley, Hank, Social Contexts, Defensive Pedagogies, and the (Mis)uses of Educational Technology, Educational Policy 2004 18: 589
  6. Shirley, Dennis,The Fourth Way of technology and change, Journal of Educational Change, Vol. 12-2, March 30, 2011, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011, 187-209