The overabundance and proliferation of tech tools designed for classroom use has left some educators reluctant to incorporate any at all. Part of their hesitation stems from wanting to avoid using technology they are unfamiliar with or creating dependencies for their students. The truth is, technology is here to stay, and teachers unprepared for its use in the classroom risk falling behind.
Luckily, keeping up with educational technology does not have to be challenging. Here are a few ways to stay relevant and motivate your students to take ownership of their education through technology.
Mine for helpful tech tools via social media and blogs: The internet provides educators with a place to both find and share lesson plans and activities. Use it to your advantage and be a part of the exchange. Blogs such as EmergingEdTech.com and the PBS Educators Lounge provide helpful resources for teachers to improve their use of technology in the classroom. You can also find communities of teachers with helpful resources on Twitter by searching relevant hashtags.
Host a teacher group that challenges each member to test out tools and share experiences: Sometimes we need to be motivated by things other than our good intentions. If you share your plans to implement tech in the classroom, you will find you are much more likely to follow through. Talk with other teachers with similar goals for increasing technology use in their classrooms. As a group, decide on ways you will incorporate technology and plan meetings to evaluate the efficacy of those tools. This will help you refine your use of tech and inspire you to continue trying new resources.
Find conferences or local experts for hands-on training: Before teaching students the use of tech tools in the classroom, educators need practice. Crash courses and workshops are typically offered at conferences such as those hosted by EdTechTeacher.org. These workshops train educators on the use of specific technologies as teaching tools and describe the learning outcomes they can expect for students.
There are online courses at the graduate level designed to train teachers in technology adaptation as well. Emporia State University offers a Master of Science in Educational Administration program and Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction programs that equip teachers with tools and strategies to improve student learning outcomes. Each program offers the course ED 810: Supporting Technology Integration for School Leaders, training educators and administrators in the integration and application of diverse technologies that increase student retention of course materials and support school staff.