An elementary school computer specialist offers technology integration tips for administrators and teachers

technology-integrationEmbarking on a technology integration plan or beginning a technology pilot can be daunting. However, mapping out a clear path, being flexible, and communicating the stakeholders can help that plan be successful.

During an edWeb webinar on June 25, Jeff Downing, an elementary school computer specialist at Millard Elementary School in California’s Fremont Unified School District, offered technology integration tips for administrators and teachers based on his experiences in his own school.

In 2012, Downing developed basic goals for his school, including providing every classroom with a high-quality projector, finding ways to give every student access to some type of technology each day, and increasing internet access.

Next page: Downing’s tips for administrators and teachers

At the start of the 2015-2016 school year, every classroom in the school will have a high-quality widescreen projector, 62 iPads and 62 Chromebooks are onsite, every teacher will have a laptop, the school’s computer labs will offer 32 updated desktops, and internet access will have tripled.

“Now I feel that we can delve into using the tools and really incorporating digital citizenship into everything that we do,” he said.

Administrator do’s and don’ts

Downing broke the do’s and don’ts of technology integration into administrator and teacher categories.

From an administrator’s perspective, barriers to integrating technology include reluctant or resistant teachers, lack of resources, lack of time to learn technology, lack of trust in students and/or staff, outdated policies and procedures, and problems with infrastructure, Downing said.

Do: Start with a purposeful plan. Administrators should define where they want their school to go.

Do: Create goals aligned to the plan. Securing stakeholder buy-in from leadership, business, parents, and community groups is key, as is communication and consistent review and revision of the plan as needed. “Once you have a plan, you have to establish goals,” Downing said.

Do: Expect and embrace failure. “If I’m not failing, I already knew it, so I’m not learning anything,” he said.

Do not: Expect everyone to be at the same level when it comes to integration. Teachers will become comfortable with incorporating technology into their instructional practices at different speeds.

Do: Lower the barriers to use. Students may benefit from training prior to using their technology in the classroom. Providing opportunities for immediate teacher and student success.

Do: Set the example by using the tools you are encouraging others to use. Show educators how to achieve success by using the programs that your school or district has adopted.

Do: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Everyone in the school and district should be on the same page when it comes to the technology integration plan and goals. Consistent communications allows the school community to feel connected, and it makes fundraising and awareness efforts that much easier.

Teacher do’s and don’ts

Teachers count lack of personal competence with technology, lack of time, fear of the unknown or fear of technology’s impact on teaching, lack of trust in students and self, and no time for troubleshooting among the top barriers to technology integration.

Do: Try and use technology. Start small, with small groups, basic research, supplemental learning activities, and quizzes to check for understanding.

Do: Treat the use of technology as you would planning any lesson. Teachers should teach explicitly and provide parameters for the technology’s use.

Do: Teach digital citizenship by setting the example. Students will model the behavior their teacher displays.

Do: Maximize value. Make sure any programs or tools are accessible across multiple platforms and locations.

Do not: Marry the technology. Create a balance between the use of technology and turning the technology off.

Do: Unplug your lessons. Unplugged lessons can be incredibly powerful. Downing often uses an unplugged lesson to teach his students about digital citizenship, and then follows it up the next day with a tech-focused lesson to reinforce the concept.

Do: Give yourself “risk-free” opportunities. Have a growth mindset and don’t be afraid to fail. Tell students they are going to pilot a new lesson that day, and students will be enthusiastic while the teacher is able to try something new and gauge how the lesson works.

To view the archived webinar, visit the edWeb Digital Citizenship community.

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