The nuts and bolts of getting EdTech rolling

Just over three years ago the school I was teaching in at the time began its roll out of tablets to every teacher. We were relatively ahead of the game, no other school in our area had begun such an initiative and within the next two months our staff would be handling two entire year groups all with their own similar tablet device.

Pioneering such steps forward in education holds much risk, there’s not much forgiveness if students are used as guinea pigs and it doesn’t turn out well! However, in those early times our staff were resilient and made the best of what training and support were given to them.

I’ve since moved to a different school, one that has been watching with interest as this revolution in education has sparked throughout the country. That spark has caught on and slowly we are making progress with educational technology, recognising together how learning and teaching will shift closer to utilising its apparent strengths. After one year of consulting we have taken on the challenge with every teacher kitted out with a tablet and the capability of duplicating their screen wirelessly.

Having experienced two very different approaches, there have been quite a few lessons learnt along the way. It is a minefield and despite treading very lightly there’s no getting away from the multiple hazards. First and foremost, there needs to be a dedicated cohort of skilled and enthusiastic members of staff, each bringing something unique to the process. Without this team, it will be slow-going and the problems will inevitably compound.

The technical side must be treated with just as much planning and support as the training side, perhaps even more so. In teaching, staff will put their trust in technology perhaps two times, the first try because they’re willing to develop but throwing in a second failure will mean belief and interest nose-dives. Who can blame them? After all, the classroom can have a delicate atmosphere, one that can be easily shattered when technology doesn’t behave.

Perhaps I’m being slightly over-dramatic but the groundwork of functioning cables and white boxes with green rather than red blinking lights makes for a happy and, most importantly, confident teaching staff. The technical wizards make all this possible, they need to be highly valued and strongly involved. With this piece of the puzzle firmly in the right place teacher training can blossom, free from one type of grumbling at least!

A school, just like any multifaceted organisation, can only dedicate so much of their time to these endeavours. Asking for outside help beyond the skills of the school’s staff is a wise move if the financing allows for it. These groups can add their touch but the school must never over-rely on what they offer. As I have already stated, the team of in-house staff are the driving force that can keep the momentum going allowing technology to aid and improve learning and teaching.

Daniel

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