Even today, we still have teachers across the country fighting the integration of educational technology into their classrooms. Many use similar excuses as to why they should not waste their time learning technology. The simple fact is that they typically are nervous to learn something new and possibly failing. I think everyone can understand that feeling (especially in front of our peers and our students). So... they make up a variety of reasons why they think it is a bad idea to spend time on technology use, or they simply just close their door and leave the technology in the corner of the room. What do we do? Here is a list of the top 5 things you should share with your teachers in regards to educational technology:
1. Technology is here: Today, tomorrow and forever.
Not to sound sarcastic but we don't see the quill and scroll in our classrooms anymore. The horse and carriage is not the current mode of transportation. These writing tools and modes of transportation have been replaced with modern technology. Likewise educational technology has now replaced many traditional teaching strategies. For those teachers that are going to be in the educational trenches for a while, you need to accept that technology is here to stay. Besides, it is always better to learn the current technology now because the next new piece of tech might be a bit more complicated than the previous. Think of it like math. It is best to learn your basic facts really well because everything else builds on those basic principles.
2. It's OK to be a risk-taker.
We tell our teachers to make sure their classroom is a place where students feel they can take risks. We want students to experiment and move beyond their comfort zone to reach out to their full potential. This is exactly the same concept for teachers feeling uncomfortable with technology. You have to create an environment that allows teachers to experiment with technology without feeling like it is a pass or fail experience. Let teachers move outside their comfort zone and be able to take a risk without repercussions. On the contrary, we need to support and praise that teacher that is trying to incorporate technology in a useful manner.
3. Please ask questions.
Again, the culture of the building has to be one where teachers feel comfortable asking questions. If a teachers are having trouble with technology, they need to feel that they have someone to turn to for help. The help has to come quickly as well. Teachers never want to waste time and they always want to be prepared. With those traits in mind, think how a teacher who is trying a new piece of technology for the first time may feel if the technology doesn't run as they anticipated. This is a crossroads for that teacher. They risked trying a new piece of technology and it is not working. Their students are staring at them and getting restless. They call for help and need that help right now. If they get the help needed and can resurrect the lesson that used technology they may try again feeling that they have been properly supported. If they do not get the help in a timely manner and the lesson is a bust, they will be very hesitant to try it again. They can now easily defend their position about not using technology, not only does it not work properly but he/she can't get help to get it fixed in time to not waste class time.
4. Change is inevitable and continual.
The process of change needs to change! School systems can take 3 to 5 years to implement a change. That cannot happen with new technologies. By the time you implement the change, the technology is outdated. With new technologies and research coming at us at break neck speeds, we need to accept that change is a new cycle that will never end. We need to get good at making fast, research based and efficient decisions about what is being changed and we need to implement that change quickly with expectations that the change will be quickly implemented in the classroom. We need to change the concept of change.
5. Enjoy the experience.
This is probably the most important statement of all. The experience of learning something new needs to be an enjoyable experience. Teachers, by nature, are lifelong learners. We need to nurture that motivated learner inside every teacher and show them that learning new technology can be fun. The teachers will find it a fun and worthwhile experience if they can feel success with the new technology, feel like they are supported, and feel that they have the time to experiment and learn with the new technology. Make the use of the new technology a fun experience and changes in the future will become easier and easier.
We know that technology has changed education and it is only going to continue to do so. Teachers will not only accept these changes in technology, but will embrace them if they feel confident in the learning experience. Remember these 5 important rules when introducing new technology:
• Teachers need to take risks
• Teachers need to accept that technology is here to stay
• Teachers need to ask questions
• Change needs to occur as a continual cycle
• Learning new technology should be enjoyable!
Technology is here: Today, tomorrow and forever.