As civilization continues its steady march toward progress and innovation, one segment of society seems to have been left behind. Technology has created improvements in nearly every industry that has adopted it, but educational institutions appear to be stuck in the past, preferring to teach students with pen and paper instead of the computers and mobile devices they encounter outside of school.
Changing the way a system has operated for thousands of years is certainly a daunting task, but a number of brave school districts have started to take the plunge and have begun deploying new technologies to enhance their efforts and improve the learning experience for their students. In order to make it over the initial hurdles of adoption, there are five ways to make implementation as smooth as possible:
1) Empower teachers through technology
A major complaint from many educators about putting technology in the classroom is that it diverts the attention of teachers away from instruction. However, there are numerous tools that enable teachers to do more with fewer resources. Social media platforms like Twitter enable classrooms to have dynamic conversations about current topics that provide a wide variety of viewpoints. Other online tools such as lesson plan databases or apps that help to grade written work can empower teachers to make the most of what they have.
2) Treat the adoption as part of a lesson plan
One problem that many school districts have encountered when attempting to implement technology policies is that systems are often removed and replaced with something new before they have a chance to reach their full potential. Constantly changing priorities makes it difficult to implement beneficial reforms. By integrating technology directly into a lesson plan, teachers not only expose their students to new resources in a dynamic way, but insulate them from the adverse effects of policy churn. Systemically adopting technology at the classroom level limits the damage of shifting priorities and helps put learning directly in the hands of students.
3) Don’t be afraid of open-source technologies
One barrier to adoption of education technologies is that many organizations wrongly believe that the tools are expensive or hard to use. So many innovations have been made in consumer technology that new, open-source tools are stable, secure and compatible with other platforms. Not only are open-source programs more cost-effective and efficient, but they often include large communities that offer high quality customer support.
4) Take advantage of online portfolio resources
Especially for students in high school and college, portfolios are a proven way to allow students to express creativity in subjects that are difficult to assess. While paper-based portfolios serve a purpose, there are a wide variety of online portfolio services that are able to tailor their offerings to the needs of each individual classroom. They also provide a platform upon which students can demonstrate their growth. Not only are Web-based portfolios more cost effective for schools, but they also enable more comprehensive and robust outreach from students. Online services allow work to be created in a wider variety of formats, including video, digital art and music, as well as include interactive features that aren’t available with paper.
5) Implement classroom management tools
One of the hardest parts of deploying tech in schools is staying on top of everything, but luckily classroom management and security software from Faronics is here to help. Faronics Insight provides educators with a central interface that makes using classroom tech easier in a number of ways: From restricting what kids can do online to providing interactive learning features, teachers are able to stay on top of everything with Insight.