By Marcia Anderson
Most of us use some form of technology on a daily basis. We read books on kindle, prepare lesson plans on a laptop, send tweets, email or a text message on a mobile device. Students are constantly texting, face-timing, posting on Instagram and Facebook. It is becoming more and more common to see a child in a stroller glued to an iPad. So can educators use these technological tools in the classroom?
Adapting to the use of technology in educational practice has been a challenge for many educators. These challenges are often due to the overwhelming demands of meeting school standards or due to a leader who might not be interested in technology or professional development (PD) on technology that is not effective or hands-on. How and if technology is used in the classroom is most often determined by the level of comfort and confidence that educators feel. So how can they be supported to become more proficient at using technology as a teaching tool?
How to Support Educators in Using Technology
In most school communities there is at least one staff member that uses one or more technological device such as a laptop, whiteboard, iPad or even a smartphone more often than most other teachers. It is individuals such as these that are needed to be part of a team that will be deliberate in their actions for the successful integration of technology into the curriculum (Centre For Implementing Technology in Education, n. d.). This team would ensure that meaningful tools are identified; secure relevant and ongoing PD and ensure that teachers have the time they need to learn. The strength of the team is critical for the overall success of the technology use.
It is important to get all the educators involved by conducting one-on-one interviews or implement surveys to determine what are the specific needs. Once this is completed the team will be able to set goals. These goals should be realistic, achievable, and manageable with priority given to the educator’s comfort and confidence in using technological tools during the process.
Once the goals are identified, differentiated and relevant PD can be implemented (Burns, 2010). It is important to have ongoing PD because educators like students need more than one opportunity to develop the skills needed to use any form of technology. Just as important is the ongoing support from the mentors after the PD has ended. The amount of time that elapses between educator learning and implementing that learning should be limited. According to Burns (2010), this is often where the break down normally occurs and PD becomes ineffective.
To build a relationship it takes time, so it is for a teacher to get past discomfort and to become confident in the use of technology, that too takes time. With a strong team of mentors, support from leadership and the right technology tools, educators can be provoked to embrace the use of technology in their teaching and learning.
Burns, M. (2010). How to help teachers use technology in the classroom: The 5J approach. Elearn Magazine.