5 Ways to Embrace Technology in the Classroom

Posted by Jerry Doll on Thu, Mar, 13, 2014 @ 11:03 AM

ID 100175160Personally, I think it's awesome that students at all levels (K-University) have so much technology at their fingertips.  From traditional CPUs to digital tablets, students have grown-up with technology and it has become a part of their daily life.  Add Smart Phones to the mix as well and the many teaching tools, such as smart boards, and digital projectors — it almost seems technology has been embraced by all and is simply a natural extension of classroom curriculum.

But what about the teachers (and other adults) who were not brought up with technology in the palm of their hand?  How do they stay current and relevant in a world of digitized students who may know more about how to get around a school's firewall, then the IT person does.  No offense to IT people.  We love you.  How do you encourage people to embrace new technology?

Here are five ways, to help teachers (and anyone over 30) to embrace technology.

1.  Develop a Training Model

Of course, the best way to learn something is to be trained on it.  But, often times a new piece of technology arrives in the classroom and you get a 2 minute overview of what it does and then when you get back to it, you can't find the power switch. 

Schools spend a lot of money on technology, but it has no impact without proper training.  Some teachers have banded together to form district-wide, multifaceted training programs.  Sessions can be comprised of live lectures, Q & A, online videos, and yes — homework assignments and even tests.

Decide where you need to beef-up your knowledge (smart board operation, class responders, etc.) and work with your admin folks to develop a program.

Embracing the technology training program should be viewed as a value-added proposition and will be easier for the district to justify new technology if they know it will really get used.

2.  Technology as an Incentive

Some schools require training to qualify technology to be used in the classroom.  One school distributed mobile interactive white boards to only those who completed training.  No training. No Mobi™.  In one particular district, training attendance was 99.9%.

3. Get Out of the Comfort Zone

We all do it.  We get settled into a routine and end up doing the same things, the same way, year after year.  It's human nature.

Some schools assign technology projects to teachers that they know will stretch them.  Here's an example:

At Westville Community District II in Westville, IL, new technology initiatives always include ample professional development. That training typically finds teachers pushing outside of their comfort zones to learn how to maximize the tools.

"We assign technology projects that ensure that our teachers know how to use the equipment for instruction," said Jim Owens, superintendent.

Recently the district equipped teachers with flip video cameras and asked them to show how the equipment could impact student achievement. It didn't take long for the open-ended project to cause frustration among the teachers.

"They didn't know what we were looking for or what the right answers were," recalled Owens. "But there was no right answer. We simply wanted them to use their creativity and find new ways to integrate the technology."

Owens said the professional development strategy helps to get educators "excited about using IT tools and applications and ensures that none of the technology we invest in goes to waste."

Excerpt from article "http://thejournal.com/Articles/2012/03/14/Getting-Teachers-Up-to-Speed-with-Technology.aspx?Page=1" by Bridget McCrea, THE Journal, March 2012

4. Don't Forget; They're Teachers

In other words, understand that teachers can be a challenging group of professionals to teach.  They're used to being on the other side of the lectern.  So, it's best not to force technology on them in mass quantities.

Discover the technology champions in your school and work with them to understand the various pieces of equipment and systems.  Then have them take that message to the rest of the faculty.  Sometimes it's easier to learn from peers. They speak the same "language."

5.  Work with Certified Installers

The approvals are done.  The purchase orders are about to be cut.  Stop for a second and ask yourself whether the vendor you are choosing is really qualified to install your technology of choice.  Are they certified by the manufacturer?  Are they close enough geographically to handle any issues without too much delay?  How quickly do they respond to your requests?

There is nothing more frustrating, to a teacher or any end-user, than technology that doesn't work.  Often times, problems with technology go unreported and the piece of equipment is just avoided and is resigned to gathering dust in the corner.  No one wants to be frustrated and therefore it's easier to avoid it than face it.

An awesome installer will follow-up periodically to make sure things remain in working order.  They will take the time to instruct personnel on proper use of the equipment — not just install and leave.

If you're not sure about your installer, call the equipment's manufacturer to see which dealer/installer they recommend.

 Take control of your classroom

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Topics: administrator, technology, A/V lectern, teachers, instructor