George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technological Change: Going from Erasers to Sharp Points

Technological Change: Going from Erasers to Sharp Points

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We've recently adopted a number of new strategies integrating educational technology at my school. Over the last couple of years we've moved from a school that had a few laptops and no projectors to a school that is almost 1:1 (and will be soon), has Apple TVs in all the rooms, and is now publishing courses on iTunes U using iBooks Author. For someone like me, this has been an intensely exciting time to be a teacher - going from our previous poor provision to the point where children are creating authentic content has been, to say the least, transformative.

But I'm aware that my excitement is not shared by everybody on the staff. Some teachers have found the technology to be an imposition - an extra bit of work on top of what they already do. Other staff claim that the pace of change is too great. Others feel that there is no benefit - to them or their students - for the technology. (I should also mention that there are lots of staff who are as energised by the change as I am).

While looking for ways to empower all staff, I came across the Pencil Metaphor, which I think is an amusing - and powerful - way of looking at technology integration. I particularly like the Hangers-On - those who nod and agree, but do nothing. The infographic is here for those who haven't heard of the metaphor:

I think it is an accurate depiction of some of the groups you encounter in technology integration work. However, I don't think it offers any solutions. How do you change staff from erasers to part of the 'wood' - or even the sharp ones? What strategies are successful? I know it's not always possible to get 100% buy in, but I think that 90% is probably reasonable.

So I thought that I would through it open to the Edutopia community - what do you do to turn people from 'Nope, never going to happen' to 'I use it all the time'?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

I look at any change- be it tech integration or something else- through the same set of lenses. Hall and Horde's Concerns Based Adoption Model (C-BAM) helps us look at change from a more value-neutral perspective. There are some videos here that explain it:

our you can read a good piece about it (from Learning Forward) here:

I also think it's important to keep in mind that the only people who really enjoy change are the ones in charge of the change (or the ones who asked for it). Resistance is usually rooted in fear of something- figure out what they're afraid of and you'll be a long way towards figuring out the resistance.

The last thing that comes to mind for me is this unfortunately named piece but really applicable piece called 6 Hostage Negotiation Techniques That Will Get You What You Want from Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Good luck!

John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct Faculty Antioch University New England, former Elementary Principal

Thanks Keith for a thought provoking post. This is a timely piece for me- I just sat in a tech committee meeting where we discussed the best way to bring everyone on board.

I think the most effective way is to do a three pronged approach to technology PD.

1. group instruction on basic tech skills.

2. Coaching model- one to one tech integration support AND curriculum integration support IN the classroom WITH the students (include in this coaches time planning and reflection).

3. Embed technology professional development in other PD and collaboration work. For example, in staff meetings provide time for staff to share how they are using technology. Then when doing collaboration work in the meeting USE the technology you want teachers to use in their classrooms.

I believe the way to increase technology integration is to provide knowledge (1) , individualized targeted support through authentic learning situations (2), and increased technology comfort levels through hands-on experiences(3).

Wow, that sounds a lot like best practice for children! Hmmmm.

Brian Sztabnik's picture
Brian Sztabnik
AP Literature teacher from Miller Place, NY

I would like to think that teachers are generally willing to try new things, especially if it is for the good of their students. However, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the tasks that need to be done in the short amount of time available throughout the day, much less taking time to try something new.

If your could provide a way for the risk-reward ratio to be reduced for some of the reluctant teachers, it would help more "wood" teachers jump onboard. Is there any way to make a database that is accessible to all the teachers so that some of the "lead"ers can upload things that work for others to use and/or adapt for their own needs? This way the amount of time it would take to adapt a tech-based lesson would be a smaller risk and lead to a larger reward for their students. I bet that the reluctant teachers would be willing to put more time into implementation once they had a few lessons work well that they adapted from the database. Then, after they create something and contribute to the database, they will also have a greater reward from their time when multiple classrooms benefit as a result.

Gregory Davis's picture
Gregory Davis
Elementary Physical Education Instructor, Technology Liaison

Why does everyone have to be on the same page, at the same time, doing the same thing? Does everything have to be covered in technology? Technolgy is nice to know and great to use (I am always looking for better tools to use/develop in physical education), but there is something to be said about the actual kinesthetic feel of writing and actually signing your name (developed personal signature) to it! Can't we reach the same objective different ways, with/without the newest tools/toys that are available?

Don't forget about the old adage (well now old) "Technology is wonderful, when it works!"

One blown fuse will change the whole lesson in a heartbeat!

Love the new, think it is great, but I still have some old school moves up my sleeve!

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