Combining Teacher Preparation with Quality Tech Support
Has this ever happened to you?
Teacher has spent hours thoroughly planning a lesson with careful considerations of differentiation and learning objectives. The lessons provided discovery learning opportunities embedded in a project-based learning environment. Students are jazzed and the teacher has planned it with several layers of bloom’s taxonomy. Unfortunately, one glaring oversight has been missed, the computers were not updated with the latest Java update to run the activity. And when the teacher rushes to run java updates, the network crashes with 30 laptops fighting for wireless bandwidth. The methodically planned lesson was thrown off course because of technical difficulties. Students are frustrated and begin to misbehave because the tool which they heavily relied upon is no longer working. The star teacher suddenly looks incompetent.
It is not uncommon that schools with limited budgets and hodge podge technology infrastructures run into difficulties integrating technology into their curriculum. Why take the risk when you can’t trust the technology? This seems to be a common barrier that teachers face when trying to infuse technology.
One of the most common reasons why teachers resist technology integration is because they feel the technology will fail on them during a carefully planned lesson. While there are many teachers who are savvy enough to troubleshoot on the spot, many are faced with disasters as soon as technical difficulties spring up.
As a technology administrator, building trust first is key to start building a culture of technology integration. Developing a quality tech support mechanism will help build the trust with teachers, and in effect, allow teachers to feel confident developing integrated technology lessons.
While ensuring quality maintenance and tech support is essential, there is another key factor in successful technology integration and that is teacher preparation of a lesson. As thorough as a tech support team can try to be, teachers need to prepare before instruction and that includes checking if the computers and software work. It is not uncommon to see teachers try out a lesson on their computer, but forget to try it on student machines, which sometimes have a completely different configuration. All it takes is a broken web link, a failed Flash update, or even a unplugged switch that can throw off the best of teachers.
With a combination of teacher lesson preparation and quality/timely tech support/maintenance mechanism, schools can ensure technology integration is setup for success…of course with a heavy dose of professional development.