Thursday, December 2, 2010

10 Tips for Getting Teachers to Integrate Technology

A year and half as a technology integration specialist does not qualify me as an expert in field of educational technology.  But in this short year and a half I have learned so much and tried so many different approaches.  Some came with immediate success, some the success took time, and some did not work at all.  From those experiences I would like to share ways that Administrators, Teachers, and fellow Integration Specialists can assist in getting teachers to integrate technology.

1.)  Take Teachers to a Conference - This year I took three teachers with me to TeachMeet Kentucky.  All three came back inspired and ready to integrate and use technology.  What is great, is that each one brought back something different.  One is integrating the use of cell phones in his lessons.  All three are using Twitter to connect with students and parents.  Another is creating a monthly newsletter about her classroom for parents.  Once they get settled, they will share these experiences with the rest of the staff, and with that, you have helped create an alliance of teachers who have a passion for technology to assist you. 

2.) Have a Weekly Tech Day - Once a week host a tech day for teachers to come to you during planning periods.  You will be surprised the turn-out when you narrow down this learning opportunity for your teachers.  Be in a central location and email in advance the topic you will cover, and in the email include common questions you will answer or tips that you will provide that you have heard questions to before.  Allow drop-ins who might have other questions as well. 

3.) Spend a Day in the Faculty Lounge - Take your laptop and just hang out in the lounge, if not in the lounge, the place where the copy machine is.  "While I have you here" will become a common response from teachers.  While teachers are getting copies made, warming up their lunch, checking their mailboxes, ask them how they are doing, and if they need help with anything.  If nothing else, you are visible to the teachers and letting them know you are there to help.

4.) Model the Technology - Use the technology equipment or software in a class with a teacher or in a professional development.  Set up instances for something to go wrong or appear to go wrong so that you can show your ability to adapt and that technology errors will happen.  Let teachers know that the technology and you are not "almighty" when it comes to technology.  I always say that something will go wrong and you need to plan for that to happen.  This happened just the other day in a Professional Development when we tried to use the clicker system.

5.) Offer Professional Development - This seems simple enough.  The trick is to offer short 1-2 hours of professional development for no more then 10 teachers at a time.  Offer it in the computer lab or with laptops available.  Spend 30 minutes explaining and demonstrating.  Then allow teachers hands-on time to use the equipment or software.  Make sure to walk around and ask questions when teachers get stuck.  Create tutorials in advance and make them available on the web.

6.) Create a Blog and Share - Start a blog and share that blog with your teachers.  Teach them about RSS so that it gets fed to Google Reader or their email client.  Focus what you share and how you share it based on the teachers and students in the school(s).  Market to the teachers how the equipment or software will make a task easier or improve a teaching strategy.

7.) Create Content Specific Email Groups to Share Resources - One aspect of the job that I have gotten praise on is sending content specific resources to specific content areas instead of mass emails to the entire staff and then it only applying to a specific subject.  Teachers are more likely to look at resources that they can easily see is specific to their teaching needs.  Make sure your email subject lets them know it is for their subject matter.

8.) Document, Document, Document - When teachers begin to integrate technology it will be important to share with other teachers what they are doing. If students create projects on the web, link to those and share them with other teachers. Visit teachers in their classroom when they are integrating technology and take pictures and videotape the students working on the project. Finally, get testimonials from teachers to share their experiences either in print or in a video and share those with staff and administration.

9.) Always Share With Administration - It is important to make sure that you have buy in from the administration. When a teacher and the students are actively engaged in a lesson using technology, invite the administration in to see the technology use in action. When possible, integrate the technology with the administration. Share technology that they can use so that they can can promote use with teachers.

10.) Stay Informed - Use Twitter, Diigo Groups, Facebook, and other social networks/media to stay informed of the changes to educational technology, because it is changing so fast. Subscribe to various technology journals, newsletters, and webinars to continue to be a life long learner. Stay up to date with updates to technology equipment, software, and web 2.0, as much as you can!

Good luck and start small. Baby steps can go a long way.

PBS New Hour - Student Reporting Labs

"Student Reporting Labs connect students with a network of public broadcasting mentors, an innovative journalism curriculum and an online collaborative space to develop digital media, critical thinking and communication skills while producing original news reports for PBS NewsHour Extra."

What a great idea.  Provide students with an area for them to create and share their own journalism experiences and stories related to curriculum.  Student Reporting Labs has lessons for teachers to help students better understand the journalism field with lessons, such as: "What is Newsworthy?," "The Art of Asking Questions," and "Facts and Opinions."  In this age of digital news and student publishing, it would beneficial to teach students what proper journalism is all about.

There are several valuable news reports that relate to education that have been completed by students.  The Student Reports would be a valuable tool in providing students examples of what makes a good journalism story that other students have done.

This sort of video project could be done across the curriculum and would not necessarily have to be in journalism classes.  This would be a great addition for Civics classes and the other Social Sciences.  At the same time, Science classrooms could do the same project as at relates to environmental concerns.  Math teachers could have students interpret data and percentages and create a news story around the data that the students are studying as it relates to their school or community. 

Check out some of the work done by students that has already been contributed and think about how you could use this with your students.