When it comes to technology use in schools, a misconception exists that infusing classrooms with new technology will miraculously change teaching and learning. This just isn’t true. Technology won’t magically transform how we teach – transformation will only be achieved if teachers are given the right guidance and direction, as well as a model for effective edtech use. Here we look at three key success factors…
1. Focus on teaching and learning, not just the technology, this will then help develop your strategy
While it’s important to have the technology in place, it’s unfair to expect teachers to implement it without guidance or direction. As classroom technology becomes more of a tool for daily use – either part or entire day – it’s important to determine what the learning objectives and outcomes are and then find the edtech that will enhance the experience. Don’t just use it because it is there. In order to help set expectations, consider setting a common language among teachers and school leaders. Begin by asking questions “how do we want our lesson delivery to look?” and “what kind of learning do we want to see?” From this determine what attributes you would like to see come into play in the classroom, such as more personalised learning, students developing higher-order thinking skills or project-based learning. Finally, make sure teachers know how to use the technology to best support their teaching approach. Once this is established, you can begin building a strategy that will be clearly defined and understood by all.
‘Technology won’t magically transform how we teach – transformation will only be achieved if teachers are given the right guidance and direction, as well as a model for effective edtech use’
2. How to build the right model for your school
In order to integrate technology seamlessly, consider building a model to use as a guideline. The benefit of doing this is that it will make your teachers really think about how they are using technology with students. When building your own model, you can choose a preferred method of evaluation and it will set a benchmark for teachers – as well as school governors and parents who are also likely to show an interest. As a starting point, you need to consider how students will access technology beyond front-of-classroom tech; will they have access to laptops? Will the school provide tablets or will a BYOD strategy be implemented? How will the school use technology to encourage collaborative and 1:1 learning? This is also why on-going continuous CPD is vital for edtech success in schools; this could involve courses, both internal and external, modelling, shadowing, team teaching, review, evaluate and revise. A successful edtech model should be affordable and fully optimised to support the development of staff and students.
3. Making teachers your tech advocates
Everyone in your school should be working towards the same goal of ensuring education technology investments effectively transform teaching and learning. But it is the teachers who will ultimately be hands on with the technology and responsible for the effective delivery, so it’s important to get them onboard and make them realise you understand their value. Reluctant adopters are more likely to make the effort if they have been involved in the decision making process from the beginning. The best way of gaining teacher buy-in when integrating technology (either new or upgrading existing) is to make sure they are involved in the process, so talk to them. Ask for their views, invite them to share the best examples they have seen of technology use in schools – including their own. Have teachers observe each other; peer-to-peer learning is a profound form of professional development. However, it’s not just teacher involvement in decision making about what is purchased and how it is used. Students’ viewpoints should be considered and solicited as well. If everyone is involved in the decision-making then all will be emotionally invested in making it work.