- Educational Technology
- Teacher Training
I've often seen others stereotype teachers, particularly older teachers, as being timid around technology. Often this is done with negative connotations: "They just don't want to adapt to the times." "They're just not very technology-savvy." "It's just hard for them to understand."
And I can't help but to think about how the image of technology in schools likely contributes to this stereotype. How many teachers can picture the technology department staff in a back office, generally unseen unless it's to pop in and out of a classroom to address some hardware issue, seemingly generally disinterested in the teacher's and students' agenda, making teachers feel inadequate by overwhelming them with esoteric technology-lingo, before fleeing back into the depths of their office until the next technology glitch summons them out again.
With this often cold and calculating (even condescending) image of the technology department's role in schools, it's no wonder that many teachers are hesitant about technology integration in their classroom, frequently viewing it as more of a threat of invasion from outside, disinterested "techy" parties than as the support role to their instructional agenda that it is supposed to be.
HUMAN-CENTERED TECH SUPPORT
This is why I believe in technology integration with a human face. Years of working in customer service and freelancing (as a web designer and developer) for clients prior to my work in education has taught me the importance of providing technology support with empathy or "a human element."
This means approaching those who need help with sympathy and understanding, listening to them, empowering them, and never talking above them. You want those you are offering to support to leave the whole experience feeling good about it, because ultimately you want to encourage them to return for more support if they need it.
EMPOWERING TEACHERS TO BE INNOVATORS VS. USERS OF TECHNOLOGY
Teachers should always feel in control of the technology they use. I want to make them innovators of technology implementation in their classroom, not merely "users" of technology. To do this, teachers need to feel empowered with technology. This is why incorporating teacher voice and choice is so important to successful technology rollouts. My aim is to reinforce the "support" role that technology is intended to provide for teachers and their own ideas.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that getting teacher input at the start equals better teacher buy-in at the end. When teachers have a say or a voice in the technology solutions that are presented to them and feel that their concerns and interests are being listened to, technology integration campaigns go much more smoothly. When technology implementations are run as a “response to a problem,” it is more obvious to staff that the technology is serving a purpose that’s meaningful to them. This tends to result in staff being much more willing to adopt a technology solution and to be responsive to training.
TRAINING LIKE A TEACHER FOR A TEACHER
As a teacher, how many times have you sat through a professional development session guided by a Powerpoint presentation or lecture instructing you on how Powerpoint presentations and lectures are not the best way for people to learn?
We expect our students to learn differently than how adults learn, and while there are some differences (mostly in regard to motivation), the best practices associated with teaching students aren't much different than those for how to best teach our teachers. I believe we need to approach supporting and training our teachers with the same sense of empathy and understanding that we use when supporting and teaching our students. Empowerment, engagement (including gamification), scaffolding, chunking, student choice, differentiation/accessibility, and hands-on learning or PBL are all concepts that work well for adults, too.