Google, Galileo, Edmodo, Renaissance Learning, Synergy, Discovery Education Online, the list goes on and on….and on and on. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated these days as an educator.
As we embrace the ever-evolving world of technology, and try to keep in mind our students that need guided practice, whole group, small group, and one-on-one differentiated instruction, not to mention the state and benchmark testing, phew… are you tired yet? How do we make sense of all the technology available, and remember that as an educator, we need to keep the process of learning and growing at the forefront of it all?
We do so by letting the teaching guide the technology, not the technology guide the teaching.
We have all had the experience of being rounded up, fired up and branded with a great new program that the district is adopting, and has all the fun bells and whistles that get the kids pumped about learning. Then we are let loose to go back to our school and classrooms and have to try to remember how to enter our students, download the dohickeys, assign the dinglehoppers, and interpret the bubbles so we can reassign the dohickeys that the kids didn’t get the first time they attempted the program. Oh, yeah, and try to figure out why are using the iPads instead of the Chromebooks that were recommended?
Is it because we couldn’t see the icons, or is it because the district got a deal on them, and a board member hates Chromebooks, and I got stuck with them?
So how do we stop the techno-nonsense, (using technology without real purpose) and keep the teaching at the front of the process? Here are some simple rules that can eliminate more than half the headaches and mistakes districts make when implementing the technology.
Do a Technology Use Assessment: Find out what technology is being used on your campus and categorize it with How, Why and What frequency it is being used. Don't let a bunch of dust-collecting devices be your technology implementation.
Survey your Staff: Find out how the educators are using technology, what they like, do not like, and what is working well.
Collaborate: Allow your staff to work together on sharing, and what suggestions they have that would help them move forward with their teaching into the digital world. Have them train each other. Nothing better than learning from someone you trust than a stranger.
Plan, Prepare, Phase: Have a technology plan, one that your team or committee comes up with, that can be done within a year or two, and phase in small doses of Professional Development, as you phase out the old. Remembering too much too fast will burn bridges instead of building them.
Continuous Feedback: Be open to feedback good or bad so that you can monitor and adjust to the needs of the educators. The old attitude of "if it's adopted by the District, it is now Gospel" only causes frustration when something isn't working for your staff.
Just remember, like everything else in education, it is a process, never meant to be permanent. The more willing you are to be fluid and learn as you go from the staff you trust, then the teaching will guide the technology in a way you can trust that the best choices and practices will be applied.
Robin Stockmar M.Ed.
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.