Heavy books. Blackboard, chalks and dusters. Taking notes by scribbling on notebooks. And the right mix of strict and wonderful teachers. That’s how I fondly remember school!
It has been fourteen years since I completed schooling and now I find myself on the other side of the classroom beaming proudly at my students.
Having closely observed the drastic changes in the field of education, my belief that change is the only constant thing has been reinforced. Books have been replaced by laptops and smartphones. Blackboard and chalks have been replaced by projectors. Unintelligible handwritten notes have been replaced by powerpoint presentations. Apps and online learning are slowly taking over our schools. And Edtech is the future of learning.
As a teacher, I know how hard it can be for educators to adapt to elements of Educational Technology, especially if they have vast experience in traditional methods of teaching. The fear of change and failure coupled with scepticism towards the effectiveness of EdTech makes many teachers hesitant towards it. And even when educators give it a try, the vastness and technicalities can make them struggle and bog them down.
I’ve always been an EdTech enthusiast and have tried to inculcate it into my classroom since day one for the last 4 years. I believe that it’s important for our teaching community to guide each other in embracing the positive impact of using technology in the classroom.
Here are a few things which school administrators and tech experts could try to ease the transition for teachers struggling with Educational Technology:
Step 1: Assemble your Tech team
Form a superb tech team of EdTech experts consisting of teachers, administrators, and other staff members who are good with technology. Giving a new spin to conventional education methods with the help of online tools can be tough. The sole aim of this team of techies should be to guide the struggling educators.
Step 2: Listen to Teachers
Now that you have assembled your team, it is time to hear the teachers’ current opinion on using technology in education as they discuss their concerns and problem areas. Depending on the subject they teach, each educator will have different views and visions about integrating EdTech with classroom learning. Sometimes you might find solutions to a particular educator’s problem by listening closely to what other teachers have to say. Engage in healthy discussion and make notes of problem areas.
Example: Start with a common and basic solution. Like actively utilizing the projector and whiteboards to display visually engaging graphics and videos to explain certain important concepts. This is highly effective because if it engages students then it’ll surely stick to their minds.
Step 3: Come up with an effective Personal Development plan for teachers
After hearing the grievances of educators that are new or are adapting to technology, come up with a unique and effective Personal Development plan for each one of them. Assign a person from the tech team to a teacher and make sure that they engage in one on one discussion to chalk out a solid course of action that will speed up the learning process of teachers.
Example: Tools like Nearpod help teachers with creating engaging lessons and have a host of pre-made lessons by subject matter experts. Some teachers may find it hard to access and run the platform simultaneously while teaching. So, the tech team can assign a temporary classroom assistant who can operate the platform while the teacher is taking the lessons.
Step 4: Make time for personal development
Once you have zeroed in on an effective plan for personal development of teachers, you need to work around the schedule of teachers so that they can find time to learn all about Ed Tech. Time is the biggest constraint so make sure the teachers have enough time to execute their plans.
Example: Teachers should be self-motivated to learn about new, feasible tools like Kahoot, Google Cardboard, Class VR, etc., that will engage their students. They should experiment with freely available platforms like a good writing tool, and access to Google drive to organize their classwork, share study materials, collect and correct assignments, etc.
Step 5: Make EdTech fun and relevant
The fastest way a teacher can grasp the nuances of technology is by understanding how relevant and important it is for their classroom lessons. The EdTech team is responsible for explaining the scope that technology has in each and every teaching area and how fun it can be for students to learn using virtual tools.
Once a teacher is convinced that the new and advanced techniques will lead to better understanding of subjects by students, he/she would eventually open their arms to change.
Example: Make a list of online tools like Cram, Cognifit, etc. that serve the purpose of improving students’ memory with fun word games and use them as a light entertainment once a week in the classroom.
Step 6: Help teachers in introducing online tools to classroom teaching
Now that your teachers have become familiar with various virtual apps and platforms, it is time for them to incorporate the learnings in their classroom. It is necessary that the tech team brainstorms with the teacher in coming up with engaging lesson plan based on these apps. Help your teachers in conducting their first class.
Example: Assist teachers with ways to plan their first lesson and stay by their side to ensure a smooth implementation.
Step 7: Cheer for Teachers
Failure is the stepping stone for success. Initial experiences of teachers can be frustrating and prove to be less fruitful. It is easier for teachers to be disappointed and start hating technology all over again. Be their when teachers are taking baby steps into this new world of teaching. Cheer for them when they are successful and cheer for them even when they have failed. The tech team needs to be the moral support for teachers.
This step by step approach will open the mindset of teachers, help them to adapt and understand that Educational Technology is the way to go forward for our education system. Since the teaching world is just at the brink of a technological revolution, it is essential to start training teachers before it is too late.