The integration of technology in the history classroom (and all subjects) is generally an exciting, positive thing, but it doesn’t come without its challenges as well. The integration of technology into any teaching/learning environment requires funding, training of teachers and staff, the proper infrastructure, devices, policies, etc. These tend to be factors that are out of teachers’ control, but there are challenges that teachers do have control over and can find solutions to.
Perhaps the biggest and most overwhelming challenge to the integration of technology into the history classroom is the overwhelming amount of software, tools, websites, and information available. Going from a traditional classroom where students have a textbook, notebook, and a handful of teacher-selected supplemental materials made it very easy to manage the teaching environment where the teacher had complete control over the information students were accessing. However, changing to an environment where students have the entire internet at their fingertips (or in their pockets) opens up an infinitely larger amount of information they have access to. Teachers, even if they’re excited about the teaching opportunities afforded by technology, can easily become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of options available to them (and their students). Unfortunately, many teachers’ reaction to this is to shun technology and revert to the old, tried-and-true, comfortable methods of teaching. I think the solution to this issue lies in educating and training teachers and empowering them to see technology as a tool that should be used to enhance pedagogy, not as a tool that must be mastered itself. If we can encourage and help teachers realize that it’s okay to just focus on one small step at a time, that can help with the overwhelming feelings. Additionally, teaching teachers that it’s okay to fail and to learn from their students will go a long way in encouraging teachers.
Another obstacle to successful technology integration in the history classroom is that there is the difficulty many may face in deciphering the “good, reliable” sources from those that are not trustworthy or truly historical. Just as with anything, the internet has a lot of good information, but also some that is not so good. It can be difficult at first to find sites and sources that are valid and useful. A solution to this is to empower BOTH teachers and students with information about effective search skills and how to identify reliable sources. Teaching them to start with resources provided by reputable, government agencies like the Library of Congress and the National Archives can be a great starting place. Also, explicitly teaching the types of sites (.gov, .edu, etc.) can be useful in evaluating history sources and beyond. Scholastic provides helpful resources to teach these skills to students.
So while there are some challenges to integrating technology into the history classroom, they pale in comaprison to the benefit. Having authentic primary sources available to students, interactive simulations, the ability to travel the globe and experience historical sites firsthand have revoluntionzed the way students view, interact with, and learn about history.
Scholastic.com. Identifying Reliable Sources and Citing Them. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2010/11/reliable-sources-and-citations