The positive impact that educational technology has on student engagement and retention is forcing teachers and administrators to integrate it better into schools and classroom curriculum. Getting technology in the classroom is exciting, but be careful not to overlook areas where technology integration could be failing.
Begin with first movers
If you’re still in the initial deployment phase, be careful not to determine your starting point based on what will make the rollout easy for the technology team. While it may be tempting to make the rollout convenient for IT, in the early stages the focus should be on building faculty buy-in. Start with a group of first movers or early adopters who are open to change. Doing this will increase your odds for a successful pilot.
Focus less on what and more on why
School-wide initiatives―like the iPad 1:1 movement―often focus more on the device that students use rather than the overall goal. While the goal is normally to provide consistency for all the students, the challenge you could run into is maintaining a technology integration program that is nimble and can stand the tests of time. Focus more on district goals and the vision and mission behind incorporating technology into the classroom, and then let everything else, including the specific device, fall into place.
Implement comprehensive training plans
Professional development is one of the most important steps to successful technology integration. Getting the faculty comfortable with the technology means they are more likely to use it effectively in their instruction. Consider making an investment in professional development and include a variety of training opportunities throughout the year such as face-to-face, web and “just-in-time” training. Training should include teachers, administrators and other staff members who will use the technology.
Of course, technology is not invincible, so there likely will be some glitches and challenges. Still, piloting with first movers, focusing on the why, and implementing training strategies will certainly get your team on the right track to effective technology integration.