The escalation of innovative technology has exposed many families to an advanced set of technological tools, including the use of computers, Web 2.0, wikis, Smartboards, iPads, iPhones, and the Wii, which may all be used for everyday research, education, gaming, and social networking (Gray, Thomas, Lewis, Tice, & National Center for Education statistics, 2010; Rosen, 2011). However, teachers using advanced technologies in 21st century school systems vary among each district. Teaching with the use of technology can be a challenging experience for teachers (Gray et al., 2010). Challenges are especially noticed when school budgets decreased and expenditures are increased. In addition, updated technology- based trainings are not widely available to teachers needing advanced training with specific technology being used in their classroom setting. Lastly, effective collaboration among professionals is not taking place in districts due to overloaded and conflicting schedules (Fine, 2010; Juke, McCain, & Crockett, 2010; McLaren, Bausch, & Ault, 2008).
In addition to these hurdles concerning technology within school districts, special education teachers have an affixed legal responsibility meeting the technological needs of students with special needs. In 2006 the Minnesota Department of Education reported that school districts have experienced a growing number of students qualifying to use Individualized Education Plans, and as administrators tackle how to apply necessary adaptations and modifications to best meet their students’ needs the use of technology becomes even more apparent (Marino, Marino, & Shaw, 2006). Teachers need to be well versed in understanding and adhering to federal guidelines pertaining to the use of technology as it applies to working with students who have special needs (Mars, 2010). The use of technology in the classroom may further benefit students as they become more independent and able to provide for their own needs as they transition into the workforce. Utilizing technology in the classroom may bridge the gap between students being able to perform tasks that otherwise would require assistance from others. Marino, Marino and Shaw (2006) found that teachers may not always have the technology necessary to bridge these gaps or have the opportunity for training in order to introduce technology to students that will aid student self-sufficiency. Juke et al. recognized “that the current education system has been set up to prepare students perfectly for a world that no longer exists (2010, p. 21).
The proliferation of technology in the twentieth century has brought powerful learning tools into our homes, schools, and community settings (National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA], 2010). According to L. D. Rosen, (2011) there is a new generation of students that are labeled the iGeneration. This generation is “born in the 1990s and beyond” (Rosen, 2011, p. 11). Rosen further suggested that this group of individuals spends 20 plus hours per week saturated in activities that utilize iPhones, iPods, Wii, iTunes and other social media.
Many high school students use personal handheld devices, computer laptops, individual cell phones, and gaming devices for multiple research inquiries and social networking. NTIA substantiated these trends; data collected revealed 63.5% (75.8 million) of U.S. households used high-speed Internet (2010). Although the use of these items are profoundly used outside of school walls, current public school systems lackawareness for the effective use of modern assistive technologies (Bausch & Ault, 2008).
Research has identified three factors associated with schools not utilizing technology to its fullest potential. The following suggested arguments account for this phenomenon. To begin with, Fine (2010) found that the federal government created funds to engage long-range goals of improving technology, but instead the money was spent on teacher salaries and other short-term issues to deflect budget cuts. Secondly, in a quantitative study, 96 teachers were interviewed and analyzed, McLaren, Bausch, and Ault (2008) encountered 23% of the teachers experienced collaboration barriers as a key problem to effectively utilize technology. Lastly, Juke, McCain, and Crockett identified that schools failed to educate their teachers with technological tools for the future (2010). Consequently, technology tools are not being used to their full potential because of shortcomings in training. Despite the lack of sufficient funds, meager time to collaborate as professionals, and a system that has perfunctorily attempts to educate their instructors, educators have made limited positive educational strides with technology while training our 21st century students (Wenglinsky, 2006). The importance of teaching with technology is considerable because it can be a powerful tool to motivate, engage, and assist with achievement for a variety of learners.