Who are Non-Adopters?
Far from the stereotypical luddite, teachers who avoid tech come from all walks of life and reject technology for many reasons. It is an unfortunate cliche that teachers are technologically inept and technophobic – but this simplistic classification is unhelpful in promoting meaningful dialogue and professional growth. This section explores why many teachers avoid adopting new technologies.
Technology has not had the rapid impact in education seen in other organizations, especially communication technologies like email and texting, which have lagged entering the classroom workflow. As a population, teachers are not more or less tech savvy than the workforce as a whole, so it stands to reason that much of this lag is tied to beliefs of what it means to teach and learn.
A major paradigm shift that has occurred in education – and one that many teachers struggle to adopt – is that of the teacher as the facilitator of learning rather than the “sage on the stage.” Many in-class ICTs require the “teacher as facilitator” style. As a result, these technologies may feel ineffective and inappropriate in a class where the teacher is unwilling to relinquish the stage. Beyond this example there are many instances where a proposed technology simply does not fit within the mastered and effective pedagogy of the teacher. In addition, some teachers struggle to find a good balance between the old way of doing things and the new way, and subsequently abandon the new way due to frustration. This must be considered when trying to understand the perspective of the “non-adopter.”
Understand and work with your team to remove barriers for implementation of meaningful technology.
Unfamiliarity is a major barrier for adoption of new tech but it is rarely a case of simple technophobia. Properly integrating a new technology that is meant to redefine practices, can be difficult for many reasons.
- Communication is Key: how teachers perceive a new technology and its purpose has a big impact on how well the tool will be utilized.
- Organizational Change: it’s disorienting when long used systems of “staying on top of things” change
- Time Management: integrating technology may be seen as yet another thing to do in the classroom where time is at a premium
- Lack of “Sandbox Time”: while training did occur, there was insufficient time to explore and make meaningful connections for how this technology will work in “my class”
- Embarrassment: teachers are asked to teach and motivate kids in using the new technology often before they themselves become familiar with the system(s)
As professionals, teachers make informed and rational decisions everyday on the materials they are asked and required to use for instruction. It is easy to label those who are hesitant to adopt new technologies as “stubborn” or “resistant” but it is far more constructive to understand and work with your team to remove barriers for implementation of meaningful technology.
Highlight Teachers Using Tech Tools
- Have an “In House Expert” where other teachers can see how a teacher in their school or district is using technology to enhance learning in his/her classroom. Make sure to include practical, step-by-step instructions for how to integrate the technology.
- Provide release time for teachers to observe each other using technology in their classroom
- Create a mentor program where 2 teachers meet to discuss practical ways to use ICT in their lesson plans
How to Demonstrate Results to Teachers
- Have teachers run a TLCP (Teaching and Learning Critical Pathway) using the tech tool. Chart results to see improvement in assessment criteria.
- Share TLCP results with school staff to support ICT use.
- Have students share how they feel empowered in their learning.
Provide Appropriate Tools and Funding
It’s important to accommodate for the required investment so the tools can be used effectively. If all other aspects are addressed, a poor experience getting the technology working properly can cripple any implementation plan. Access to up-to-date and functional equipment is critical. Research suggests that accessibility to technological resources is one of the major factors that influence teachers’ intention to embrace ICT in their classroom.
There is nothing more frustrating for teachers and students than spending half of a 40 minute class waiting for laptops to “boot up” and connect to slow wi-fi signals. When proper tools are in place, teachers’ confidence, motivation, and willingness to use ICT will follow.
As we know, teachers are stretched thin with planning, teaching, marking, and running extra curricular activities. Once the benefits of the new technology or practice have been clarified and agreed upon, the time barrier for implementation and training must still be addressed. All technology will have a learning curve. The ease of use will definitely impact the length of time that it takes for teachers to get up to speed, but planning for this and not discounting its significance are also keys to success.
Provide On-Site Support
Research is clear that ongoing support encourages teachers to implement technology; on the other hand, insufficient technical support discourages teachers from using ICT in their teaching.
Ongoing support comes from the company providing the product, administrators, support staff, and other teachers. This allows new users the opportunity to:
- Experiment with new technologies
- Gain confidence in the use of ICT
Ongoing support encourages teachers to implement technology. 5 factors that contribute to teachers’ motivation to integrate ICT include:
- Long-term continuous development of teachers
- ICT specialist teachers to help students learn computer skills
- Partnerships and cooperation among teachers
- Support from leaders and administrators
- Adequate equipment to support the tech in the classroom
Tech Introduction Checklist
We’ve covered a lot in this guide so far. To help you successfully add new technology to your school, we’ve put together this checklist:
- Identify the purpose of new tech
- Ensure technical support staff is well trained in the use of the tech
- Ensure that appropriate hardware is available to teachers and students (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.)
- Ensure purpose and available support for the new tech are effectively communicated, get teachers excited!
- Identify and educate teacher champions
- Set up an online training course (either internally or from the vendor)
- Hold a professional development session
- Reinforce teacher and student benefits from new technology
- Remove barriers including lack of funding and tools, and excess workload
- Provide continuous technical support and foster a culture of continuous learning
- Seek feedback from both adopters and non-adopters on a regular basis
Congratulations, by knowing how to choose the right technology, implement effective professional development, and create effective professional learning communities, you’re on your way to affecting positive change at your school.
Adding new technology into your classrooms can be an intimidating process. Even though we all strive to be tech leaders, passing that knowledge onto others can be challenging. Remember that at the end of the day it is teachers who are educating your students, not technology. Keeping this human factor in mind when it comes to education will ensure everyone is focused on student success as a primary goal.
Don’t try to do everything by yourself. Make sure you’re using your technical support staff as much as possible. Your teacher champions will also be crucial in ensuring complete adoption, so make sure to let them know that!
Once your school becomes a school that focuses on professional learning for your teachers, especially from their peers, you will see a dramatic improvement in student success. Teachers can act on the guidance that fellow teachers provide to solve significant issues both inside and outside of the classroom.
Creating effective PLCs depends on engaging teachers in ongoing conversations about teaching and learning. These conversations should be directly related to their daily work with students. School and district leaders must provide support and feedback to cultivate an atmosphere of trust, on which PLCs thrive.
But PLCs are worth the work! Take the time now to introduce professional learning communities into your school and you’ll notice an incredible improvement in the level of education at your school!