Parent-Teacher Relations, Technology

Over Your Head: Digital Barriers in the Classroom

Over Your Head: Digital Barriers in the Classroom

Originally published in TEACH Magazine, Digital Citizenship Special Issue, 2020

By Chris Kruger

It is widely accepted that digital tools and resources are vital to students’ success in the modern world. It is also widely believed that the only barrier to access is money. “If only,” I lamented as a first-year teacher, “there were enough devices to go around, all students would be able to become full-fledged digital citizens!”

While this may be true for some students, for others, access is more complex and can’t be achieved through simply receiving a grant or donation of devices. Often, other factors are at play. It’s important to develop a nuanced understanding of access so that we can better help our students.

To start, we need only look to ourselves for one potential barrier to access. There is no grant that can overcome a teacher who is unable or unprepared to use a digital resource. Last year, I was lucky enough to win a grant for a 3D printer for my school, but the rollout was far from easy.

I was so excited, but had no idea how to share it with my students. I attended webinars, read articles, followed the steps, did everything I could, but it was still so daunting. There it sat, gathering dust. It wasn’t until I admitted I was in over my head that I could actually start moving forward.

If you find yourself in this kind of situation, there are some simple steps that can help. Find real people to help you; break it into manageable chunks; and look for entry level projects to attempt first. But, above all, don’t let a late start contribute to an even later implementation. Starting late is better than not starting at all.

Another barrier students may face is the level of digital infrastructure. In Chicago where I teach, high speed Internet is available almost everywhere. Outside of the classroom, there are public libraries, cafes, schools—a whole host of options. Furthermore, some urban areas are proposing to classify the Internet as a utility and making it available to all.

Even so, just because broadband seems to be everywhere, doesn’t mean all our students can easily access it. And for those in rural or remote areas, the situation may be even worse, as the cost of Internet access is higher, or the speed is much slower. Khan Academy may be one of my favourite classroom resources, but it isn’t useful if a video takes fifteen minutes to load.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to help students facing these barriers is by compiling an honest inventory of the resources available to them. Do they have Internet access via cell phones? Or access only on weekends? Can you provide resources that can be downloaded at school and then worked on at home? For example, Google Docs and many coding platforms can be used offline and the work is then synced once students gain Internet access again.

Another potential barrier to access is parental acceptance of technology. A parent might generally dislike devices and are hesitant to have their child play any game, even if it is educational. Another parent might not allow their child to use technology unless the child is fully proficient with it. Or, they may be suspicious of social media and resist having their child use it in class without their supervision.

These issues cannot be simply overcome. Instead, it is important to work with parents to find out what makes them uncomfortable while finding solutions that work for everyone. If parents are concerned about privacy or security, highlighting the relevant features of the app, allowing students to have pseudonymous accounts, or establishing a contract for all parties to follow can help ease those fears.

If parents are concerned about screen time, finding ways to trim down the time a student needs to work on a project, limiting curricula to a single digital component at a time, and finding different ways to present information may make technology less overwhelming. Both teachers and parents want students to be successful, so let’s work together to define the skills we all think are important and how they can be achieved.

Similarly, even if there are parents who do not take issue with technology in the classroom, they may not provide support. For example, it might be out of their comfort zone, they’re intimidated by apps or programs they don’t understand, or they lack the time to provide support.

I’ve found that the key to making digital materials less intimidating for parents is by providing resources. For example, finding YouTube videos that explain the purpose and function of an app while providing explanations in parent newsletters may demystify class activities.

Another surprisingly easy way is maintaining an open line of communication with parents and helping them feel comfortable approaching you with questions. This is critical because it can be hard to predict which piece of technology will be challenging for parents. When introducing Khan Academy, I spent a long time preparing supportive materials for parents and, although it was a lot of work, it was very successful.

Then, there is the most obvious barrier to access—money. Financial barriers have always been an issue for teachers and students. Fortunately, there are numerous scholarship and grant opportunities available if you do your research. For me, the key to obtaining resources, like the grant I received from the 3D printer, is diligence.

I have dedicated an hour a week to look for grants, newsletters, or professional development. Then there are websites that collect and post financial resources for teachers, like and—two of my favourite sites to browse for opportunities. It may seem daunting but setting aside a dedicated time can make it far less intimidating.

Technology is constantly evolving. Our young students are becoming increasingly comfortable with each technology release. So, it’s tempting to think that if we can just get enough devices in front of them, that would suffice—they’re digital natives after all. As any teacher knows, however, it’s only just the beginning.

The goal shouldn’t be simply providing technology, it’s understanding all the potential barriers, formulating plans to overcome them, reaching out to our colleagues for assistance, and involving parents. It’s only when students understand everything that’s involved just to give them access to their favourite educational games that they’ll appreciate what it takes to be a digital citizen.

Chris Kruger is a teacher at Plato Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois. He has taught pre-kindergarten through middle school and loves all of them. Chris founded the Chicago Progressive Educator’s Forum to give teachers a place to connect and talk about education from a progressive perspective. He can be reached at

f3 male enhancement pills reviews ed pills biotin troy aikman male enhancement pills teenage penis pills intense male enhancement pills stores where i can buy male enhancement pills panden volcano life male enhancement pills natural extreme pills compare ed pills dexters laboratory sex pills 2 kwik hard ed pills can pills make you grow a penis 180 horas pills for erection natural sex supplements strong penis pills rock me pills increase male libido supplements store for sex pills and toys long lasting pills for men nuber one pills for big penis over the counter medication for ed penis enlargement pills double over counter ed drugs ed meds roman what do sexual enhancement pills do male erection pills red sex enhancement pills at cvs best fast acting erectile dysfunction pills sex pills lincoln ne penis inancment pills sex pills website ultracore pills shilajit sex pills what are the best pills for erectile dysfunction can birth control pills affect sex drive is it bad to have sex after taking sleeping pills do x pills make sex less uncomfortable hentai comic dexters laboratory sex pills niagara sex pills penis enlargement pills bad for you

cbd gummies amazon cbd oil for pain walmart green roads cbd gummies reviews how do u eat cbd gummies can you buy cbd gummies online why aren t cbd gummies for sale on amazon hemp bombs cbd gummies made me feel sick how to make your own cbd gummies teaser pleaser miracle gummies cbd canna gummies cbd cbd gummies make you feel cbd hemp bombs gummies cbd gummies for pain hemp how long does cbd gummies start to work cbd gummies nashvile cbd oil for kidney cancer do marijana gummies have cbd cbd oil for autism and epilepsy edipure cbd gummies review can i take my cbd gummies to a plane how to try free cbd oil gummies for free does cbd gummies work best cbd gummies for migraines cbd gummies with some thc cbd lean gummies 300mg are there cbd gummies with thc 3 year old got into cbd gummies best cbd for ptsd bulk organic cbd full spectrum gummies cbd for lungs is 75 mg of cbd gummies too much wellbies cbd gummies green cbd capsules and gummies jamyn gummies contain cbd or thc cbd oil dosage for breast cancer cbd gummies near newfoundland pa cbd oil with thc for sleep how to make cbd isolate gummies highest rated cbd oil for pain try cbd gummies

diet pills pills nidora diet pills diet pills that work for teens diet pills that work fast sold on amazon great diet pills that actually work diet pills that are back on the counter using fiber pills to lose weight problems with diet pills in hawaii l weight loss pills over the counter weight loss pills walmart progestin only birth control pills weight loss best chinese diet pills mango pills for weight loss mexico does water pills help you lose weight dr prescribed weight loss pills online weight loss centers that provide diet pills best benefits from fiber pills for weight loss diet pills chitosan diet clarity keto pills science fair projects on diet pills giant eagle diet pills diet pills and autography how many cla diet pills should i take per day mexican diet pills ship next day over the counter diet pills laxative muscle building weight loss testosterone pills laminaria diet pills why is there niacin in diet pills diet pills fox news need diet pills that really work diet pills true vision pills that can induce weight loss went to the doctor diet pills meme otc weight loss pills that actually work nutragenitic forskolin diet pills extreme fat burning pills where can i buy the original 2 day diet pills little yellow diet pills keto nutrition tablets are weight loss pills real

pop up cards dailymotion pop up card osaka template pop up cards valentines day amazon cool pop up cards easy homemade birthday pop up cards jumbo birthday cards love pop cards rose 3d pop up birthday card for dafs paper pop up vehicle cards pop up heart card template free pixelated hallmark pop up cards village how to make a penguin pop up cards pop up calendars cards silhouette 5x5 pop up birds card phow to make a pop up card credit card pop up mens wallets tourtle pop up card 1198 marilyn monroe pop up greeting cards price jeep pop up card wallet card pop up symmetrical pop up card lawn fawn cut set scalloped box card pop up mens wallet pop up card pop up couple card pop up presbyterian church card template pdf music pop up card ideas amazon gift card congratulations pop up engagement pop up cards how to make a christmas tree pop up card video can a pop up card be made horizontally making a pop up card for doctors how to make easy paper flower bouquet walmart gift card pop up ads pop up flower card directions pop up vase 3d tree pop up card svg funny birthday cards for girlfriend pop up cornucopia card send greeting cards forest birthday pop up card