Involving Everyone in Educational Technology Initiatives
When implementing an effective educational technology program, it is crucial to have all parties at the table. All segments of education of have been guilty of “going rogue” when implementing a new technology. We see something awesome that we know will help our school and we just go for it. Only to find out later, that there were factors that make implementation difficult or impossible. Factors that we didn’t consider. Before you roll out your next educational technology initiative, bring the right people together. This will help your school create a solid plan to bring a new technology to your students.
Administrators often get the reputation of just looking at the bottom line. Before spending money on a new technology, they want to know exactly how much it is going to cost them and what the results will be. On the other hand, sometimes administrators can be guilty of investing in something new because they see how it is working in other schools. They want to replicate that in their district, but they press forward before consulting with teachers and IT staff. In either case, administrators make the most effective decisions when they consult with those who will be using and supporting the new technology. Administrators should take this step before either rejecting or accepting any new educational technology.
Administrators need to know the proper infrastructure is in place so the technology can function. The information technology experts in the district should know the answer. If upgrades need are necessary to the district’s technology system the IT staff can develop a budget for this. Administrators also to know what other projects the IT staff has on their plate. Many districts have IT staffs that are understaffed. This staff not only keeps systems up to date but they also have to troubleshoot issues that arise in the course of a school day.
Another thing administrators need to think about is properly training teachers to use new technology. It does no good to invest in the coolest new application if it just sits out on a server and is never used. The same goes for hardware. Many schools have invested in tablets that just sit in a closet and collect dust because teachers were never trained on how to use them. Administrators need to know if this technology will help teachers be effective. Or, will it just add another level of complexity to their job? Administrators should foster honest conversation with teachers.
Another good reason to keep administrators in the loop is that they can leverage volume pricing with vendors. Applications that might be expensive, if purchased on a classroom by classroom basis, could be more affordable if purchased through a group license. Administrators can see the big picture in a district. This helps them to know the best way to implement a technology district wide.
Teachers have different approaches to new. Some teachers feel like they always need the latest and greatest for their students. Other teachers are averse to trying new technology for a variety of reasons.
Teachers who are early adapters should not get frustrated if administrators and IT staff do not jump on new technology right away. Teachers should take the time to consider potential impacts on their students. Administrators and information technology staff can also help teacher arrive at the true cost of the technology. They can consider factors like training and system upgrades. Teachers who are resistant to trying new technology should also communicate their concerns with administrators and IT staff. Some of their issues can be addressed through candid conversations. Teachers are more likely to take the risk of trying something new when they have support.
Information technology staff are a crucial voice in educational technology conversations. These professionals can help develop budgets. They can also help educators understand system issues such as capacity and security. These experts can also be a source for professional development to help teachers utilize then new technology. In turn, IT staff should also consult with teachers and administrators before making major changes to a system. They should know the best time to complete upgrades or maintenance so that they will have minimal impact on students. Information technology professionals should also listen to the concerns of teachers and administrators. They should look for ways to overcome any obstacles educators might have to when implementing a new technology. IT staff should also communicate the importance of security measures that are in place.
Implementing a new educational technology can sometimes seem like a daunting task. We might be hesitant to take on this challenge. But when we realize that we are part of a team and we do not have to face this challenge on our own we are more apt to go for it. Communication is the key. Valuing each parties unique set of skills and their point of view when it comes to technology is a major factor in the success of any technology initiative.