After doing many technology workshops for teachers (K-12 and higher ed.) in many different settings, I am convinced that many faculty members feel so overwhelmed with technology offerings that there is a tendency to just “say no!” to the idea of using it at all. I think the solution to this issue is “taking a baby step”. Start small. Keep growing.
Why the reluctance to change? Most teachers lack models for using technology. They just aren’t sure what to do. Many teachers argue that they have been very successful teachers without using technology in the past. So, why start now? Teachers may also see very little value in using technology or they may have very little in the way of technical support. A lack of technology support is especially true for many K-12 teachers. Teachers may have a lot of fear of using technology. They may have tried a technology and it didn’t work well or they fear looking like they don’t know what they are doing in front of their students. They may have very limited access to technology. In light of our nation’s focus on testing, teachers can’t get into labs. However, I believe that educators have an obligation to find ways to help prepare students for their future and this includes integrating technology into curriculum. In fact, 21st century learning skills includes those ideas that reach beyond technology, however, integrating technology can clearly support many of these objectives. Here is a link to the Framework for 21st Century Learning.
I will soon write more about the the compelling research about why we need to push harder to do a better job in in this area. Beyond engaging and motivating our students, when used properly, technology can increase student achievement.
So- start. Start small. Take a baby step. I would argue that this should be true for those who already feel comfortable integrating technology. Challenge yourself to learn a new technology each year. Find support. Talk to the digital natives and let them help you! Carefully observe how students are using it. Ask some questions:
- Are there ways to support higher level thinking with this technology?
- Can I integrate this into what I am already teaching to enhance and engage students more fully?
- How can I provide a framework for its use but still support student creativity and empowerment?
- Where can I get technology support and help when I need it?
- Do I have a plan if the technology isn’t working?
- Is there someone I can partner with to try a new technology application?
A baby step approach to technology integration:
For Faculty: Start small. Try a new application each year and work through the fear. See if my list of questions is helpful.
For School Leaders: Understand that teachers need support. Encourage and reward small steps. Remember that each of your faculty are in a different place. For one teacher, checking and sending emails to parents and students may be a big leap. For another teacher, having students create digital videos to show their learning may be an appropriate goal. Support ALL of your teachers as they learn and grow.
For Tech Support Personal: Make yourself available to your educators. Be patient and make sure that you provide hands-on support. Sometimes educators may come to you after they are already frustrated. They may have spent a lot of time already trying to solve a problem. Write out an FAQ sheet /webpage for easy to solve common problems that your educators face.
For educational technology trainers: Provide HANDS-ON support and be available for follow-up. Don’t come in and give a bells and whistle show and then walk out the door! All learners need practical hands-on experience. Additionally, not every person in a training session is at a point where they will be ready for the training. If you overwhelm your audience and cause frustration, you may actually push faculty in the opposite direction.