Thursday, October 6, 2011

Technology in Schools - Part 2 - Do Away with One-stop Workshops

Step 2 in my multi-part series on technology in schools and why it isn't being used.  From part 1, I pointed out that there is a lot of technology in schools that is either not being used effectively, is unknown to teachers in the schools, or is being used but ineffectively or in a very limited manner.  Part 2 here is my first suggestion on how to help increase the use of current technology that exists in schools.

Do away with the one-stop workshops. 

You know what I am talking about.  Those one or two day workshops that teachers attend to learn about a new technology.  The expectation that after these one or two day workshops teachers are going to integrate the technology into classroom instruction is ludicrous. The more gun ho teachers will give it a try, but if the attempt goes awry, as it is bound to do, that technology is going in the closet to gather dust.  Long term support is needed if real integration and change in practice is to occur.

How do you do away with these workshops when that is all the district has time for or money for?  You can't.  But...administration can do something that will support and enhance these one or two-day workshops if that's all they have.  Here are a couple suggestions:
  1. Provide common planning time or collaboration time where teachers can plan and create lessons to try in their classrooms
  2. Give teachers TIME - time to try out the technology and then time to get together to talk about what happened, how to change it, and time to try it again (and again and again)
  3. Give teachers permission to fail - few people get it right the first time, so make it okay to fail and try again
  4. Create support for the technology - a fellow teacher who can help, an online forum for discussing and sharing ideas and lessons, planning time, sample lessons....anything that allows teachers the freedom to try, to fail, to get support and to keep trying.
If real integration and use of technology in an effective manner is going to happen, there needs to be continued support after the one or two-day workshops or you might as well  throw in the towel now.

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