Educational Technology is not the Enemy

‘What’s the point in using new technology? I’ve been teaching for years now and my methods get results.’

‘It’s all very well using this technology but it’s difficult to get to grips with and the students find it hard.’

These quotes are from staff who have genuine concerns about the implementation of new technology in the classroom. They see it as a ‘fad’, something that will disappear as quickly as it has arrived. These opinions have to be taken very seriously when attempting to implement a school 1:1 program and staff-room talk can be negative when driven by scepticism and a lack of belief.

The new technology should only be used if it will enhance learning. However, after over a year using iPads in the classroom I am convinced there are many ways it can help educators and learners alike. The difficulty is winning over those educators who are sceptical. I would like them to make an informed decision about how the new technology might help. Second-guessing their methods and attempting to suggest new techniques is not the way to go about it.

In response to our staff concerns, the following tips have proved helpful to those educators who didn’t think new educational technology had a place in their classroom,

  1. Demonstrate one app to an individual and allow them to ‘play’ with it with help available. Discuss the learning implications and wait for them to offer how this makes something they already do a little easier. Suggestion – Explain Everything
  2. Ask them to observe a small part of a lesson using the technology for AfL. Suggestion – Nearpod or Socrative exit ticket. The emailed report option will instantly show how an educator can be informed about student progress. This can then help to plan the next lesson without waiting for homework collection and assessment.
  3. Encourage the educator to use the iPad for social and entertainment reasons. The intuitive nature of the interface is a key part of its use and the more educated use it the more likely they are to overcome any small barriers to use. Suggestion – Flipboard, Zite or newspaper subscription.
  4. Provide help and guidance wherever possible including out of school hours. Although it is difficult to maintain this, offering educators get stuck with the new technology in downtime and it is useful be able to ask questions. Having staff email on all the iPads has allowed interaction between our iPad ‘gurus’ and those new to the technology. Suggestion – Drop in sessions run on a weekly lunchtime basis with cake and tea!
  5. No question is too easy or too difficult. The range of iPad learning is vast and questions are repeated over and over again. It has been said that learning with an iPad is front loaded in terms of effort as once you get to grips with the technology most apps work in the same way. Unfortunately because the effort is required at the start any barrier may become a sticking point. Suggestion – use ‘How to‘ videos and the Essentials app to help guide the educators.

There has always been resistance to change in education and this will continue with anything new that comes into the sector. iPads are not suitable for every aspect of education but the things it does well are worth pursuing. Our aim is to help educators make an informed choice of how they can be used in the classroom rather than dismissing them out of hand. There must be a reason they are being rolled out across so many classrooms around the globe and as long as our staff feel they have a support mechanism we hope to be successful.

I would be interested to hear from anyone involved in staff iPad training, particularly those who have helped very resistant staff.

About Daniel Edwards
Director of Innovation & Learning at the Stephen Perse Foundation schools, Cambridge, UK (stephenperse.com). Interested in global connectivity for all and risk taking in education. Keen to discuss all aspects of learning and digital strategy. Also @syded06 on twitter.

21 Responses to Educational Technology is not the Enemy

  1. I recall a great pencil metaphore by Lindy McKeown (Orwin) that illustrates what you are perhaps facing. It can give you a clue about how to support these teachers

    http://www.teachers.ash.org.au/lindy/pencil/pencil.htm

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  7. Jacky says:

    Hi

    I’m involved in staff iPad training and have been running tea and biscuits drop in sessions. They do work, but at the moment I’d say there are more technical issue questions that app use. We are doing a 1 hour inset on iPad use tomorrow (inset morning). The more resistive teachers are using them more as admin tools than for teaching in the classroom. We have apple tv in most rooms but some have huge technical issues like not being visible in the airplay menu all the time (a wireless problem?) and so we can’t rely on them and won’t use them until we can.
    One way to help encourage use is to use the iDoceo (doceo= I teach in Latin) app for a teacher planner, register, mark book, timetable, seating plan and more. The only one I know that suits the UK 2 week timetable format.

  8. Tony Casella says:

    After working with many teachers going through the process of National Board Certification and other professional development initiatives, I can say that teachers are challenged by new technology in the classroom. In fact, one teacher told me flat out she’d rather not have her administrators place a new piece of technology in her classroom because she feels it takes away from her actual instruction and classroom time.

    After questioning her further, it’s not the technology that was challenging it was the learning curve for the technology. Schools and school districts have to provide professional development training on the technology as well as how to implement it in the school’s curriculum and what goes on in the classroom. This is all fine and dandy, but vendors don’t tend to provide PD for the technology they sell and it normally isn’t in the school’s budget to hire competent providers of PD to help teachers integrate the technology in their classrooms to align with their teaching practices.

    “Canned” PD for technology isn’t the silver bullet. There is not one size fits all for this kind of PD. The curricula the school and district are implementing are one factor, the socioeconomic status of the students in the schools have to be taken into consideration and also the environment. PD for one demographic will not work for another.

    This was the vision of the organization I am a part of Achieve NBC. We started out by providing support to teachers going through PD such as National Board Certification, but soon realized while working with these teachers they benefit most from working with each other with the help of a facilitator who would add structure. Even though new technology and implementation of the new Common Core State Standards can be challenging topics, the challenge can be overcome if teachers work together on the learning. The learning for the teachers has to come from the teachers in their own words so they will own it. A content instructor can facilitate the process.

    Thanks Syded for starting such a great topic of discussion.

    I’m always available for follow-up conversations like this on Twitter. @TonyCasella

  9. It’s funny, I just wrote a post on this same topic! I also posted it on Linkedin and it generated very interesting conversation. “Why I Don’t Use Technology:Anti-Tech Teachers Lament Has No Standing!” http://oldschoolteach.blogspot.com/2012/09/why-i-dont-use-technology-anti-tech.html

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