Saturday, April 30, 2011

8 Ways to Support Teachers Integrate Technology

A collaboration between Good and Kiss Me I'm Polish, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Implementing Effective Technological Change: What a Classroom Teacher needs
1. Many teacher’s discoveries of how to use Web 2.0 tools and new applications occur when they are simply trawling the net for new and innovative teaching strategies. Teachers need more time to discover; discover new Web tools, discover new websites, discover new delivery methods.  One tool or resource by itself is often limiting but when you combine it with another, and sometimes another again, the resulting classroom activity can have a profound effect on learning outcomes 
2. Teachers need opportunities for innovative learning projects to be discussed and planned.  They need feedback from colleagues on what they are doing successfully in the classroom.  They need opportunities to deconstruct a unit; identify weaknesses and develop existing strengths.  Teachers need a chance to brainstorm and evaluate better delivery methods and more efficient use of the available technology. 
3. Teachers need opportunities to share technology learnings. What works in large classes?  What do your students like?  What technology do you have access to?  I have heard about that tool but how do you actually incorporate it into a unit?  What are your favourite tech tools?  Can you teach me how to use that?  How do you find appropriate tools to achieve solid learning outcomes?  How do you go about developing your units of work that are technology rich?
4. Teachers need time with colleagues to workshop practical strategies for classroom activities; How to engage your students.  What size groups achieve the best results? What strategies do you use for organising group work?  What not to do next time? How to get around difficulties.  How do you ensure equality of workload in collaborative learning environments?
5. Teachers need time to assimilate new concepts, like student involvement in unit development.  They need to discuss the notion of students as teachers. What did the students think helped them learn?  What activities did they like?  What activities taught them new skills?  What would they do if they were the teacher?  How might they have set up the assessment tasks?  What Web 2 tools would they suggest to meet the stated outcomes?  Teachers need the chance to have pedagogical discussion with their students.
6. We all need to develop simple effective ways to involve other staff at our schools.  How do we share the load?  How have you got other staff excited about incorporating technology?  How do we continue to support them in this journey?  How do we provide a positive environment to encourage further experimentation with pedagogy?  AND, How do we capture the recalcitrant?
7. We all need to continue to develop resources that introduce effective technology to our staff.  Teachers love technology cheats sheets.  How to use Prezi in the Classroom?  How to use Podcasting to promote social values?  Making History interesting with Digital timelines?  These are often constructed by enthusiastic teachers and then passed around.  Why do we all re-invent the wheel?  A central bank of these in your district or region would make so much more sense.  We all just contribute one each from our own area of expertise.
8. I find that very few new teachers are really aware of the effective use of Web 2.0 tools when they come out of university.  In fact some have hardly even heard the term Web 2.0. Experienced teaching staff need to introduce starting teachers to these ideas to foster greater learning and support.  We need to be insisting that these ideas of collaborative online learning and innovative web based tools be taught at all Universities.  We need to keep blooding the new, young staff member into the online habitat that our students now live.  We should be continually identifying innovative and talented people to ensure that they receive the appropriate in-servicing and support to move forward with enthusiasm and energy.


  1. All true, but where to find the time?! That is the really hard part. I fit it in with my colleagues the best I can, but there simply isn't enough time, and I think that's where administrators have to step in and give us the time, but it almost never happens. So frustrating! I often feel I'm spinning my wheels. I do like your idea of cultivating new teachers, do that long enough and it will build, but seems like too long to wait.

  2. Chelsy, I agree. If it is important, time should be given for "IT". I know of some school sites that creatively schedule professional learning time within the school week. Others start their collaborative time earlier in the morning. There are a variety of ways to include PD in this cost-cutting era.

  3. Hi,

    I really appreciate this posting and agree with so much that has been said above. One common problem teachers have is time time time! Sometimes, financial restraints also condition our professional training. However, today we can network and share for free online. Why not use Edmodo?

    With Edmodo you can create a group for teachers in your school/institution and share ideas, tools and challenges. It's free and simple to use; in no time you will have a local community of practice with inspiring results :-)

  4. Edmodo looks like a useful tool. I may try that next year as my Twitter experiment didn't do too well this year; although in short time. I'd like to avoid creating a class Facebook if I can. Thanks for sharing!

    Almost all 10 ways discuss time or opportunity (another way to say time as far as I'm concerned here). My district is exploring PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) as a way to find more time to collaborate between buildings and grade levels. Anyone have experience with these?

    My "big idea" is for administration to allow the teachers/grade levels to plan their own PD Day. Perhaps submit a plan of what we hope to accomplish on our PD Day and admin can either approve or ask us to add more to it. But I am tired of sitting in 2 or 3 lecture sessions about something fantastic and we never get the time to use it. Any other good ways to share resources out there?

  5. So its all about time. I think it is also all about letting teachers experiment and not being worried about standardized test results. A lot of teachers can find time if they cut back on test preparation. Use faculty meeting time to do some of the things recommended here. Encourage small bits of learning each day rather than day-long workshops that can be expensive. Depending on the age, let the students explore and experiment. Daily learning is what I push at DrDougGreen.Com where my book summaries and Net Nuggets let busy educators and parents engage in bite-sized self development. Keep up the good work.

  6. @Nick Our district the past two years has planned two of its PD days set as 'teacher differentiation' PD. We each individually or can group up by grade or content area, and plan our own tech day, which in turns gets us time to do all the above mentioned. We fill out a form prior, then a follow up form. Also, we can stay in district or visit another school, etc.

  7. It's also about access to resources. I've lost count of the number of times that I (or often the kids) have had a great idea about how a particular website/application could enhance learning but been thwarted by the fact that there aren't any computers available or that the ones that are belong in the stone age. It's bizarre that schools (in particular primary schools) are the last resting ground of computers so dilapidated and 'not fit for purpose' that they would be thrown out of any office in the land!

    Teachers & children get frustrated that they are unable to use technology in the seamless and integrated way that is now the norm in the workplace. How many times have the kids been asked to 'plan on paper before we get to the ICT room' simply because we don't have enough access to high quality computers - I can't remember the last time I 'planned something pn paper'!

  8. Great post and ideas - many thanks. In my view:

    In education at school-level few children encounter video production because their teachers lack the skills. Further, they are restricted by a tightly-regulated curriculum; by a lack of resources; lack of time; ethical concerns; by the inability to sanction a space for creativity and play. All too soon video becomes geared to the functional needs of the syllabus and to instrumental outputs.

    The toxic mixture is completed by the perceived need to protect children from the internet, from challenging issues and the outside world.

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