An inner city school recently purchased 20 iPads minis for 3 – grade 1 teachers to use in their classrooms as part of a Grade 1 Literacy Initiative. There were workshops available for the teachers on how to use the iPads, the apps to use in their literacy program and a support teacher that would provide assistance with technical issues. Unfortunately, the teachers did not support this initiative to its fullest. The problem – they all had different opinions on the use of this technology in their program. One teacher believed that iPad use in the classroom would not help the students in their learning. They would only be used for games. Another teacher felt that the iPad was for her to use to help her teaching and the last teacher was interested but wasn’t motivated enough to put in the extra time required to integrate the iPads into their teaching. They also had to travel to the workshops as they were not held at their school. There are many new initiatives teachers are constantly trying to implement and some become permanent and some change. It is not at all easy for them, but the question to this challenge is how do you collaborate many minds into one when implementing Information Communication Technology (ICT) in a school community?
This may seem like an overwhelming task when working with active minds, but starting with a basic framework is key. Let’s look at 3 methods of unifying ideas about ICT use in a school.
1 – Establish a Common Objective
Technology integration involves a school culture that promotes technology use, a shared pedagogical use, and support from peers, administration, and the community (Vatanartiran & Karadeniz, 2015, p.207). A technology committee can be made up of administrators and teachers. You don’t need to be a Google Certified Trainer to be on a leadership team that is responsible for promoting technology use in the schools. You also want to involve teachers who may be novice learners in ICT, but with a desire to learn. It’s important that you also include teachers that are strong in the curriculum so that a vision for learning is included in your goal.
2 – Provide Professional Development in the School
Professional Development (PD) for the grade 1 teachers using the iPads was available. However, these training sessions were held off-site and outside of school hours. It became logistically difficult for teachers to attend most sessions. Committees should be arranging PD sessions during the school day and frequent. Teachers new to using technology can implement new uses immediately into their curriculum and as part of a grade team, they can work collaboratively in unit planning. Support for ICT users must be readily available as problems do arise. Teachers express difficulty in getting support for programs in place for teachers (Rabah, 2015, p.27). In general, technical support is offsite which means that if a there is an update to an app that is required on the iPad for the teacher to use for a math activity, they will have to contact and wait for technical support to arrive and fix the problem. This could take days. Support for the majority of issues should be available in school to ensure a smooth delivery of lessons using ICT.
3 -Combine Curriculum Plans into ICT
Teachers must collaborate on what thematic programs they will use that can incorporate technology into the classroom. Different approaches to planning will make ICT ineffective in programming for student learning. It will also create issues of inequality in which teachers who use ICT in their classroom will have students who benefit from their learning while teachers who are not using it will leave their students a few steps behind.
ICT integration is not a short term process, but a long-term process that could take between 2 – 5 years to implement. With staff members and administrators changing quite frequently, it’s important to maintain the same vision for ICT in the school community in order to achieve student success. Already the implementation costs to school boards are high and to change the direction will only increase it.
Rabah, J. (2015). Benefits and Challenges of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Integration in Quebec English Schools. The Turkish Online Journal of Education Technology, 2015, 14(2), 24 – 31
Vatanartiran, S & Karadeniz, S. (2015). A Needs Analysis for Technology Integration Plan: Challenges and Needs of Teachers. Contemporary Education Technology, 2015, 6(3), 206 – 220