Change is hard. And for many, it can also be scary, whether it involves technology or not. People, as a rule, tend to be creatures of habit, and even those that consider themselves to be forward-thinkers may be among those most hesitant to adopt change.
When it comes to teachers, they’ve invested considerable time in their lessons and projects, have established rubrics, and gathered concrete evidence that lessons have successfully communicated a topic to students. Because of this, they may be more resistant to change than other individuals.
To help overcome this resistance, it’s important to take the time to understand their hesitations. To help, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the most common phrases heard from teachers who are questioning if technology integration is right for their classroom:
- Why should I?
While this question may be delivered in a variety of ways, it’s often fueled out of fear. Sharing the logic behind the need for technology integration, as well as supporting teachers with any necessary professional development, can provide hesitant teachers the nudge they need to take the first steps.
An easy way to start the conversation on the need for technology integration is by focusing on the importance of ensuring students are college- and career-ready, of which technology plays a critical role. Digital technologies have become commonplace in both college and in the workplace.
Beyond preparing students for the future, integrating technology has the potential to make teaching practices more effective by enabling educators to reach all students and promote different learning styles. In addition, effective integration can drive student engagement and transform a passive learner into an active learner who is responsible for their own learning and able to think for themselves.
Regardless of where the discussion may lead, it’s important that school leaders take time to address the “Why should I?” question.
- But I've always done it this way...
As previously mentioned, change can be scary. A while back, we wrote an article on Getting Beyond “In the Past” that shared the insights of Miguel Guhlin, Director of Professional Development for the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA):
“When I started a new position in a large urban school district, one of the phrases that people were fond of using was, ‘In the past.’ Almost every utterance that meant to forestall change began that way. As if ‘In the past’ would actually have the power to stop impending change.”
The article went on to share a couple key points from Dan Rockwell (of Leadership Freak blog) regarding four reasons that people cling to the past, namely that people don’t feel heard, need validation, fear the future, and haven’t yet been convinced that the plan laid out leads to a better future. All of Rockwell’s points seem reasonable—and all of them apply just as much to resisting technology and its place in the classroom as change in general.
If you’re hearing “But I’ve always done it this way…” or “In the past…”, try to set aside the frustration you may feel and hear what teachers might be trying to say: “Help me understand.”
Related resource: How Do I Deal with Resistance to Change
- Don't my students know technology already?
With the abundance of devices available today, it’s not hard to see where this question is coming from. And, although most students seem to have a basic understanding of technology, knowing how to use an app or device is not the same as knowing how to use it appropriately or effectively. And, while teachers may not feel comfortable with technology enough to make such a distinction, there are resources available to help support their professional learning.
At the school level, providing professional development focused on technology integration (which can include everything from building core skills on Classroom Management in 1:1 and BYOD Classrooms and Using Technology to Support & Fulfill Student Standards to projects and lessons such as Coding in the Classroom and Getting Started with Augmented Reality) can go a long way to improving teachers confidence in using the technology that your school has invested in.
For students, it’s a good idea to make sure they actually know the basics that are often assumed (try a handy Skills Assessment) as well as to weave in a lesson around digital literacy and citizenship.
Related resource: What Do Students Need to Know About Internet Safety & Digital Citizenship?
- Where do I even start?
While teachers may be excited by the potential of technology in their classroom, it can still be intimidating. Even hearing success stories and accessing example lessons can be overwhelming and leave them wondering “Where do I even start?”.
With effective technology integration, the best way to start is to have teachers look at an existing unit, lesson and/or task they’ve done with students before. When they are already familiar with the content, it can minimize the feeling of being overwhelmed and make it easier for them to see the potential to integrate technology.
A great resource to reference is the SAMR model (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) and brainstorm how technology could be used as a vehicle to redefine the learning. To illustrate what this might look like if the classroom, let's look at an example from the Tech Integration Strategies course using the subject of narrative writing.
With substitution, a teacher would have students type the work using a word processing program rather than handwriting it.
In augmentation, the students would not only type the work, but use built in tools such as spell check and online resources or text tools for formatting the look of the text.
To move to the modification of the task, students could use an online multi-media tool to collaboratively create a piece of writing with other classmates.
To completely redefine the task, students could try collaboratively constructing a story online using something like Twitter. Students would have to devote the entire story with that limitation of 140 characters. Editing and revisions are also made online, and the final product is produced and published in that online format. Maybe even as a blog where additional classmates can post feedback.
Since the technology used with students should not simply be an add on, but rather infused throughout the learning process, the focus should be on the final outcome, standard, and/or product students should develop to demonstrate learning.
Related resource: SAMR
While there are of course other questions that might come up, these are some of the most common hesitations to integrating technology. For further insights on successful approaches to integrating technology, be sure to check out Atomic Learning’s Tech Integration Strategies course—an in-depth online learning module designed to provide teachers with the guidance and structure they need to take the "plunge" into technology integration.
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