Improving Technological Proficiency Across Your School District
Technological proficiency across the workforce has been a requirement in much of corporate America for decades. Companies are constantly looking for the best technology to equip its workforce to gain maximum efficiency. Education always seems to be a bit late to the party when it comes to implementing new technology, and the reasons are completely understandable. Change is scary, and human nature tells us to get to our comfort zone and stay there. However, the time has come for educational organizations to finally make the leap and see what all the fuss is about. For many districts, it has the ability to make some pretty remarkable improvements across the board.
Technological proficiency by definition is “the ability to use technology to communicate effectively and professionally, organize information, produce high-quality products, and enhance thinking skills.” Based on this definition it seems that technology and education could be a match made in heaven. However, increasing technological proficiency across your district is easier said than done. Luckily, this guide will set you straight on the path to success as you bring your school district into the 21st century.
Find the right tools
Education technology companies have been innovating at a rapid rate over the past couple of decades with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. At first, many teachers were reluctant to incorporate edtech companies such as Blackboard and Kahoot.
into their classroom, but time has shown that not only do these tools save teachers time, they actually make for a more engaging learning environment for students. Talk to collogues from around your district as well as neighboring districts to get a sense of which tools seem to be working the best for students. Chances are many of your teachers have already been experimenting with free versions of these tools for years.
Edtech companies do not stop at the classroom, however. In recent years innovators in this space have been making remarkable progress in developing tools that can make the district office just as smart as the classroom. Although these tools often times don’t educate students directly, their positive impact can be felt by everyone from superintendents to students and parents.
Get buy-in from across the district
Once a decision has been made to move forward with implementing an edtech solution into your district it is important to get buy-in from everyone involved. The biggest threat when making a change of this size isn’t that the solution will not work, but that people will not utilize the new tools because they do not properly understand them.
As is the case with many modern professions, technology in the classroom and the district office can make some educators feel less valued, as if they weren’t doing a good enough job prior. It is imperative to explain that quite the opposite is true, and that these tools are being put in place as a reward and to make their lives easier, as well as provide students with the best possible education available. After achieving this district wide buy-in, you are all clear to implement. However, your job isn’t quite over yet.
Set up workshops and make resources available
Underutilization and improper utilization of new technology in the district is an issue as well, but one that can be easily managed. Once you have completed implementation, it is important to provide educators with resources on how to get the most out of the new technology, as well as continuous updates as the tools make changes (and they will all the time, trust me). Giving all of your educators a base understanding of the new tools as well as an opportunity to voice questions and concerns will ensure that all of the hard work discussed above doesn’t go to waste.
Although some of this learning may happen at home, it may be a good idea to designate time for teachers and administrators to get together learn about these tools together. If your district already has allotted time for continued professional development, it may be encouraged that a portion of that time be used to sharpen technology skills that can be used in a number of classroom and district-wide activities. Once they understand the tools, your team should immediately start to see the benefits they bring and will hopefully be excited to learn and explore more opportunities.