Can Technology Mentoring be an Effective Method to Help Combat the Barriers to Technology Integration in Higher Education?

Tammy Mang

Ontario Tech University


Higher Education Institutions (HEI) need help to keep up with technological change. Even though technology is ubiquitous in higher education, the primary challenges that remain at the forefront of integration barriers include professional development, onboarding protocols, return on investment of time and outcomes, institutional culture, work security, and incentives. However, educators are on the front line to be the agents of change to help reform and reimagine current pedagogy to meet the needs of today’s learners and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Technology Mentoring (TM) can be an effective means of helping to close the technology gap and break down the barriers to technology. A well-researched methodology, TM is based on the premise that a more experienced technology user mentors others needing help developing their skills and confidence. These mentors provide real-time training that is ongoing and specific to the needs of their fellow faculty. TM integration can be both formally or informally implemented and is a viable model to support faculty who need to use technology to teach. Based on the well-researched Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework, TPACK looks at the interdependence between content knowledge (CK), pedagogical knowledge (PK), and technological knowledge (TK). TM views CK as the subject-matter expertise, PK as the strategies and methods, and TK to address how and why we use technology. TM positively impacts how faculty learn and integrate technology in their classes in multiple contexts. Effective technological integration in learning must be how to use the technology and when to use it correctly for the desired learning outcomes.


Higher Education Institutions, Technology Barriers, Technology Mentoring, TPACK


The 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) will impact the workforce significantly, making many current jobs obsolete within 50 years (Lupanda, 2020). Because of this, educational leaders need to reimagine the form and function of postsecondary schooling to provide practical, customizable, and ongoing training and education for students, preparing them for the future workplace (Educause Center for Analysis and Research, ECAR, 2022). Information Communication Technology (ICT) is recognized as an essential component of educational reform, as it can enhance student performance and meet their needs in the future. Ideally situated, educators are on the front line of this reform and uniquely positioned to take on the role of change agents. However, their perceptions about using ICT tools in the classroom are the key to effective integration. A positive attitude toward ICT integration is vital to its success (Ali, 2019).


Despite the widespread use of technology in education, integrating technology into pedagogy has yet to meet expectations. Current technology use still supports traditional pedagogies. When we view this from the lens of the new generations of students, their diversity, technological advancements, and societal changes, it has become apparent that faculty need more support from educational leaders on content expertise and professional development (PD) to deliver a quality digital learning environment. A positive attitude towards technology is crucial for successful ICT adoption (VanLeeuwen et al., 2020).

There must be a robust ICT infrastructure and clear expectations to create an environment where educators feel supported and confident in using technology. Effective leadership is integral as there needs to be an overall environment that supports and nurtures educators with their ICT knowledge and skills (Ali, 2019). Lack of proper infrastructure, inadequate training, or unreliable equipment can impede effective integration and diminish faculty confidence (Mercader, 2020). Common barriers to ICT adoption among educators include internal cultural resistance, lack of time for training, workload balance, the complexity of technology, and return on investment (ROI) concerns (Uerz et al., 2018). Overcoming these barriers is essential for educational institutions in the 4IR to embrace change and drive reform (Lupanda, 2020).

Common Barriers

Research studies have identified several barriers that require educational leaders to provide multiple methods of PD to expand educators’ use of ICT tools. PD must be timely, relevant, and flexible, considering the workload balance of both full-time and contract faculty. Effective onboarding protocols for new faculty are also crucial. Leaders must share their goals and expectations to create a positive culture of change (VanLeeuwen et al., 2020; Polly et al., 2020; Mercader, 2020). Leaders must have a clear vision of digital education to make sound decisions. When strategic plans are put in place that includes ample PD, there need to be standards for assessing the effectiveness of the PD and an understanding of how it is being measured (VanLeeuwen et al., 2020).

Professional Development (PD)

Effective PD must be appropriate to what an educator is teaching and be timely to fit into their schedules (Mercader, 2020). Training during peak times of the semester/year is impractical, and research productivity demands further limit their training time (Polly et al., 2020). These barriers can be particularly disheartening for educators who want to incorporate technology into pedagogy but need more time to overcome limited resources, a lack of incentives, or rigid regulations (Mercader, 2020). Digital confidence considers technological proficiency, pedagogical compatibility, and social awareness. Educators must know how to problem-solve to integrate technology into pedagogy effectively (Starkey, 2020).

Suitable training takes time; educators need to feel comfortable using the technology appropriately and know what tools to use to achieve optimal results. The training must fit into educators’ busy work schedules, and the institutions must ensure they have the appropriate skills & knowledge to teach with technology. There needs to be an effective workload balance to increase the adoption of digital technologies. Time includes both course planning & training. (Polly et al., 2020). Additionally, ongoing PD is essential to help faculty, which includes fostering exploration, renewal, and change (VanLeeuwen et al., 2020, p. 11). Training needs to go beyond institution-specific training and focus on opportunities in digital pedagogy (VanLeeuwen et al., 2020).


Traditional onboarding methods for new faculty, especially regarding technology, must effectively motivate or equip them to teach with technology (Edouard, 2023). Using technology requires continual guidance and support, which traditional methods currently need to improve. Therefore, implementing effective processes is essential. New faculty must develop pedagogy, digital literacy, and technological knowledge skills, with specific PD on using digital tools in the classroom. We must equip new faculty to enable them to add, adapt or create new online courses as needed (VanLeeuwen et al., 2020).

Return on Investment (ROI)

Faculty buy-in is crucial for technology adoption, and they need to understand how technology will improve student learning and enhance their performance (Polly et al., 2020). This attitude aligns with the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), which considers the perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEU) of new technology. PU is the degree to which one believes that using new technology will enhance job performance and improve student learning, and PEU is the effort involved in using new technology and its ease of use (Davis, 1989).

Applications: Technology Mentoring & TPACK

Despite the prevalence of technology in higher education, challenges such as institutional culture, limited time, work balance, evolving technology, and insufficient training opportunities persist. Traditional training in technology has yet to motivate and equip faculty to teach with technology because using technology requires time, continual guidance, and knowing how to use & apply technology complete course-specific tasks in real-time. For this reason, some HEIs have turned to a TM approach. TM involves more proficient technology users guiding their peers in using technology in the classroom. This one-on-one approach has shown to be a practical way to promote technology learning and integration because its features meet faculty’s needs and interests and enable them to learn technology faster. TM provides an educator with individualized training that is self-paced, flexible, ongoing, and timely. Effective TM has several benefits:

  • It can motivate faculty as they become comfortable with the technology,
  • provide immediate assistance and help build a community of practice,
  • can support ongoing training that adapts to changing technology,
  • can be easier to accommodate schedules,
  • can bring practical solutions to challenges and provides a learn-as-you-go opportunity (Edouard, 2023).

TM is based on the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework, which emphasizes the interdependence of content knowledge (CK), pedagogical knowledge (PK) and technological knowledge (TK). Integrating TM with TPACK involves considering subject matter expertise, instructional strategies, and the purpose of using technology. Different TM and TPACK integration degrees can be employed (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). For example:

  • Peer Mentoring: Educators more technologically proficient than their peers mentors their fellow instructor to learn new technology; this can foster an environment to strengthen their TK, PK, and TPK.
  • Reverse Mentoring: Technologically proficient students mentor educators with technology promoting TK, PK, and TPK development.
  • Reverse Mentoring through Internships: Similar to reverse mentoring but taking student-mentors who are part of a mentoring program, this also develops TK, PK, and TPK.
  • Reverse Mentoring through Graduate Courses: providing educators with mentoring services through a graduate course.

There have been multiple studies conducted that have shown that TM can be an effective means of closing the technology gap and help to breakdown the barriers to technology integration (Arslantas et al., 2021; Boulay & Fulford, 2009; Giles et al., 2020; Larson, 2009; Thompson et al., 2007). Integration of this training and support methodology can be formal or informal and depends on resources and budgets (Edouard, 2022).

Conclusions and Future Recommendations

HEIs need help to keep up with technological changes. Technology in the workforce continually changes, and students must be comfortable with the latest ICT tools (Educause Center for Analysis and Research, ECAR, 2022). Ideally positioned, educators can be the agents of change in HEIs. However, several barriers must be overcome for successful integration, including ineffective professional development, onboarding protocols and systems, ROI, and cultural change (VanLeeuwen et al., 2020). Traditional PD has yet to prove to motivate and equip faculty to teach with technology. Using technology requires time, continual guidance, and knowing how to use & apply technology to complete course-specific tasks in real time. Educational leaders must continue to provide opportunities for ongoing PD; however, TM can be an effective option to help bridge the technology gap among faculty members. Shown to motivate educators, TM provides real-time support and builds communities of practice; it is adaptive to ongoing technological changes and can accommodate busy workloads. TM aligns well with the TPACK framework and the three components of this framework: teaching, pedagogy, and technology. Successful technology use in teaching requires an educator to understand how to use the technology and when to use it in the context of learning. Educators must understand the relationship between teaching, technology, and pedagogy to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

Future research should evaluate TM and current PD practices in HEIs to further evaluate whether these methods meet the required demand to provide learners with practical and customizable learning to prepare them for the future workplace (Edouard, 2023).


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