Teachers are embracing EdTech now more than ever. No doubt this is thanks to the many exciting opportunities that inviting new technology into the classroom creates — expanding course offerings and learning resources, building critical 21 st century skills, increasing student engagement in learning, and so much more.
Based on the results of THE Journal’s third-annual Teaching with Technology Survey, the potential impact EdTech can have on teaching and learning has educators looking at devices and learning apps in a positive light. Three-quarters of survey respondents believed technology has had an extremely positive or mostly positive impact on learning. Approximately 77 percent said technology has made their jobs easier, and an overwhelming 87 percent said technology has positively impacted their ability to teach.
But despite the excitement surrounding it, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by new EdTech. How can teachers possibly keep up? They’re already expected to do so much; introducing new technology can sometimes feel more like a chore than a choice. Plus, with all of the responsibilities on their already full plates, it’s often easier to stick to EdTech they know works rather than try something new.
In her webinar with NetRef, Vicki Davis offered advice for helping teachers stay innovative with technology in today’s fast-paced and quickly growing EdTech environment. Here are three helpful tips you can apply right away to keep educators open to and excited about adopting new technology to enhance learning.
#1. Teach the “3, 2, 1” Approach
This approach allows teachers to try a few new tools over time and determine which ones will work best in their classrooms without getting overwhelmed. Here’s how it works:
- Ask teachers to identify 3 tools they’ve been wanting to research.
- Encourage them to work with these tools 2 times a week for just 15 minutes — that’s it.
- Have them share 1 new thing they learn each month with their colleagues on a bulletin board in the teacher’s lounge, through Google classroom — whatever works best for them. This can help others discover tools that might work for their students, too!
#2. Communicate Weekly, Monthly and Quarterly
Check in on teachers’ progress with new EdTech tools regularly. This keeps them accountable for staying on top of new EdTech and creates the opportunity to discuss questions or concerns that could be holding them back.
- Weekly: Make the effort to have brief but helpful one-on-one check-ins to show teachers that you genuinely care about helping them succeed with EdTech. You might stop a teacher in the hall, chat with them over lunch or pop into their classroom at a time you know is convenient.
- Monthly: Put together a brief video or email newsletter each month that teachers can review on their own time. Use this channel to share teachers’ successes, tout new tools and announce new technology initiatives happening around the school or district.
- Quarterly: Create a professional development “event” that’s both fun and informative to encourage teachers to try out a new tool or two. Make this event short (no more than 2-3 weeks), schedule it for a slower time during the school year and always make itoptional. To get started, challenge teachers to try a new tool — like virtual reality — and then reward them for working it into instruction in a variety of ways (for example, taking a “field trip” to explore a unit of study).
#3. Celebrate Progress
There’s nothing more motivating than recognition. Offering simple rewards for trying new tools — even if they fail — can make implementing new EdTech something teachers actually want to do, rather than something they have to do. Rewards can be anything from shout outs at staff meetings or on social groups to a personal “congratulations!” to let teachers know their work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Rewards also can be tangible: “hall passes” to get out of recess or carpool duty or special treats in the teacher’s lounge.
Show Teachers the Value of EdTech
Sometimes teachers just need proof that EdTech is working to keep incorporating it into instruction. A tool like NetRef can give them that peace of mind. NetRef’s intuitive dashboard offers an at-a-glance look at how students are using their devices in class, and one-click controls to block or whitelist activity for everyone from individuals to entire classrooms. Helpful usage reports also reveal which EdTech products are being used most, and least, to give teachers an idea of the tools that have the greatest impact on learning.
This blog post was inspired by our recent webinar with Vicki Davis, 5 Ways to Help Teachers Progress in Their Use of Technology. Watch the full webinar on-demand and get bonus tips for keeping teachers innovative with EdTech, here.