Search “technology in the classroom” and you’ll find countless people arguing the pros and cons of 1:1 vs BYOT, laptop vs. tablet, and any of the other many debates surrounding technology in the classroom. The thing about all of these arguments is that they focus on the students, and rightfully so.
All education decisions should be about what benefits the students most.
But when it comes to implementation, the latest gadgets are only going to benefit the students if the teachers are trained on how to use them and troubleshoot problems. With many districts sharing IT personnel between schools, it is not always feasible for IT to fix problems immediately. The more prepared teachers are to deal with basic problems, the more the students can focus on their learning.
This is what I view as an educational technology professional’s most important job. We shouldn't just be fixing problems, we should be teaching others how to deal with them as well. This isn't so that we have less work to do; it’s for the benefit of those we serve. If a laptop is having connectivity issues and it’s a two-second fix, it’s more beneficial for the teacher to deal with it rather than wait for us to get to it.
It’s well known in the leadership community that when the best leaders leave, the company doesn't suffer, it flourishes. This is because a true leader enables people to do their jobs and gives people the structure to succeed. IT professionals are to be the go-to for advice about technology and strategy. They should provide the best resources, and forever be improving the system. But this is impossible if their days are filled fixing minor technical problems.
The reason that there is so much technology in the classroom today is because this generation of children responds well to it. Kids are able to use computers and electronic devices with much more ease than many adults. A lot of this is because technology has a bigger factor in their lives than it did during our childhoods. They are growing up with these devices, so using them becomes instinctual.
It is the teachers who need to be trained in basic usage and troubleshooting. This starts before a school even adopts a technological program. Tech directors not only need to be involved in the conversation of the structure of BYOT vs. 1:1, laptop vs. tablet, but they also need to outline to the teachers and administrators the ins and outs of the daily ramifications of either choice.
Most schools implement one-day training when new technology is introduced to the classroom. During this day, the basic applications of the technology are covered and examples of daily tasks may be shown. This is also a great day to go over network issues and any mobile accessories that may be used with the devices. This training is extremely beneficial to teachers who have a knack for technology, but it won’t be enough for everyone. And if a teacher is at a loss, the students are losing out.
On top of a one-day training where basics and structure are covered, I suggest that IT professionals take technological education for teachers into their own hands. All teachers should be shown how to connect a device to any needed networks and printers. They should know the first few steps IT will always try when troubleshooting a device. This isn’t to say that they can’t approach IT with problems, but it will empower them to help their students when IT isn't available. It will also help them teach the devices more knowledgeably.
What strategies have you implemented with teachers and administrators to ensure that students get the full benefit of technology in the classroom?