When I saw one of my colleagues typing about one word every 10 seconds a thought entered my head. “How am I ever going to persuade this person that technology will offer an easy and effective way to enhance the learning of their students?”.
After working closely with this fantastic teacher for a whole year I have seen a huge transformation in their confidence with technology. They are now habitually using Google Apps for Education. I’ve seen them ‘flip Socrative’ to get students to create their own assessment and drive the learning direction of their peers. Most recently, they have even delved into the world of flipped classroom teaching.
But we keep hearing the argument that some teachers do not feel confident to use technology in their lessons. How do we work around this problem?
Making educational technology a success for all teachers and their students
ICT evangelist Mark Anderson wrote a fantastic blog post last September where he explored how a teacher’s lack of confidence when teaching with technology can be a huge barrier to deploying educational technology in the classroom. For Mark, the competency of staff goes through four stages when using new technology:
1. Survival – Staff are scared of breaking technology and only feel obligated to use it
2. Mastery – Staff are trained and feel confident to use a tool
3. Impact – Staff can deploy technology to enhance the learning of students
4. Innovation – Staff take ownership of the technology and use it in increasingly innovative ways to enhance the learning of students
This is an excellent guide, and a reflective tool, for anyone trying to support staff who want to integrate technology into their practice.
Yet, the question remains, how can we move staff to the important impact and innovation stages?
Here’s a couple of ideas to consider when we want to do this.
Achieving Impact and Innovation
1. Everyone is different, you must meet their needs.
This is the most important consideration when supporting someone integrating technology into their practice. Listen to what they have to say and also watch how they like to teach. For example, one member of staff I worked with had amazing peer assessment routines, and the ability to discuss a piece of class work which forced students to effectively reflect on their own learning. By just augmenting these routines with Socrative for feedback from the class, using a visualiser to show work to a class, and redrafting using Google Docs there was more visible improvement and engagement from students. This was not transforming learning, but it really built on the strength of the teacher. Thus in turn, they liked the strategies and adopted them.
2. Demonstrate progress
The great thing about technology is that it can often allow you to demonstrate student progress when it is used. I created an adaptive learning programme for Maths that actively quantifies where students are improving in individual subject areas. The ability to instantly assess impact is a powerful tool. If you provide students with automated feedback on how they perform on a Socrative quiz, and then task them to learn the content they got wrong, and then carry out the quiz again you can assess the impact on student learning. Nothing creates a better buy-in for teachers than realising that a tool has worked well.
3. Let teachers take control
After you show a teacher a new piece of equipment or software it is very common to discuss how they could use it (almost to the point where you tell them how they should use it). Don’t do this! Tell them where you’ve seen it be successful, and tell them what it can do but let the teacher lead the conversation about how they want to use it. Padlet is a great tool, but my subject specialism is History, I wouldn’t dream of explaining in detail how it can support a specialism in P.E. or English because I will sound less informed about the subject matter and I will lose credibility. If you let the teacher take control then they can think of innovative ways to use the tool in a way that meets the learning needs of their students. If teachers take control, then the tool will be more effective.
4. Have an open door policy
If you want educational technology to be used, and to be effective, you must ensure that other teachers can see you use it in action. Invite teachers in to watch new tools used and start a discussion. Alternatively, have a piece of technology demonstrated at a staff briefing. You’ll be amazed at how many staff come to ask you about it afterwards. You can get a conversation going around the school.
5. Support, don’t sell
Above all, if you are going to try and push a piece of technology you must ensure that you know it backwards. Know the quirks and know the problems. Then ensure that you, or a student who acts as a digital leader, is present in the classroom to support any teacher if they struggle. The majority of problems that staff will have are technical not pedagogical. If you can quickly remedy any technical problems then the teacher will feel confident to use the tool. In time, the teacher will know how to correct the problem if it happens again without your support.
There are a lot of other methods that can be used, but these are my core five, and thus far they are the most successful that I have found.by