Photo via remakelearning.org
After finding and purchasing the right education technology product for your school, the next step is implementation. Some form of technology is present in most classrooms across the US, but many teachers use this technology in a rigid fashion; other teachers don’t end up using it at all. Why? Most are simply not comfortable enough with these devices to use them in their classroom. Having a well-thought out implementation plan is arguably the most crucial step for ensuring that the technology is being used correctly and frequently. After all the work that is put into actually purchasing the technology, it would be incredibly disappointing (and, frankly, a waste of money) for the teachers to not end up using it. What does a proper implementation plan look like? Dan Blevins gave us some important insights.
We mentioned Dan Blevins in our “Important Questions” blog. Dan is an Instructional Technology Specialist at Killough Middle School, and he has held this position for decades. In other words, he knows education technology. Over the years, he has spoken with numerous education technology companies, and evaluated countless products. He understands the art of technology implementation in schools. After purchasing BoardShare units for his entire school, Dan talked with us about his implementation approach, and laid out an implementation plan that any tech director can use.
1. Sit the teachers down and explain the product that has been purchased. Regardless of whether the teachers had input about purchasing before the product is bought, the tech director will have gathered more info from the company, and actually tested the product. It is important to go over what the teachers can expect from the technology, and touch on how the product works.
2. Introduce the staff members to any kind of training videos or other helpful resources the company provides. This way, teachers will not be flying blind when attempting to use the product for the first time. You should also provide a list of the company’s email addresses and phone numbers in case the teachers have any questions, or would like more tips on how to use the product.
3. Spend an entire day or two on product training; you can add more training sessions if need be. Go over product setup, and any tips and tricks that may be useful. You should visit the company’s website and visit their FAQ or help pages to see what questions or issues customers have. Address these potential issues, and provide some in-depth lessons on how they can troubleshoot these problems themselves; this way, they will not have to contact the tech director or company every time they run into a problem using the product.
4. Provide resources and example lesson plans that the teachers can use with this technology. These resources should be catered to the grade and subject of each teacher. We occasionally hear teachers say that they are excited about a product and understand how it works, but that they don’t know how they would use it with their lessons; this can lead to the product going unused. Providing example lesson plans allows teachers to generate their own ideas for lesson plans incorporating the product, and come up with resources to use with it. The edtech company may even provide a list of websites or other software that can be used with their product.
5. Find the “right” teachers to begin using the product. Teachers often have varying levels of comfortability when it comes to technology. When implementing technology in a school, it is helpful to find teachers who embrace technology and are not intimidated by it; they understand the potential for the technology to be transformative. By allowing these teachers to begin using the product immediately after purchasing, other teachers can who are not as comfortable with technology will begin to see how it works and how they can use it.
6. Monitor and ensure that the technology is being used effectively; make sure that those teachers who are less tech savvy are not falling behind. If certain teachers are having difficulty using the product, set aside a time for a training session. Again, you can always set up more training sessions if need be. Touch base with the teachers once a month. Try and keep note of how they are using the product and if they have come up with any original ways to use it. This way, you can introduce these ideas to other teachers.
The main goal of implementation should be teacher comfortability with the technology. Without training and the providing the proper resources, edtech purchases will ultimately go unused.