Sunday, September 16, 2007

Helping Educators Become Technology Literate

There are many considerations in helping educators become technology literate. I think it is especially hard these days, given the amount of information we and our students are exposed to on a daily basis. Not to mention the fact that technology, both hardware and software, continues to change and evolve at a rapid pace. It seems that as soon as you become comfortable with a tool, a new and improved version is released. As much as I embrace the use of technology, and how it can enrich students' experiences in the classroom, I sometimes find it challenging to "keep up."

I was clearing out some old email messages and came across a discussion I had with an Instructional Technologist from Texas about trying to help teachers become more technology literate. My response to her inquiry included the following questions:
  • What are the "technology" expectations for your teachers?
  • Are technology goals defined at the local level by the stakeholders, or are they state mandated?
  • What is the teacher's mission for integrating technology?
  • What are their frustrations?
  • Do the teachers have access to reliable technology tools?
  • Do they understand where or how technology can improve learning?
  • There are always beginners, adapters and innovators when it comes to using technology, yet every school seems to have a few teachers willing to take risks with technology, does yours? If yes, these teachers need to be your evangelists! They need to spread their excitement!
  • How can the technology innovators in your school, help those still struggling?
  • Can you enlist the innovators in your school to share their best practices and success stories? Often, one teacher doesn't know what another is doing, and some very awesome things could be happening in your own backyard that should be showcased!
  • Time is a precious commodity that teachers never seem to have enough of. If your evangelists can show how they have overcome the time obstacle, it may inspire others as well.
  • How do you allow teachers to experience, and most of all celebrate, success? There is nothing more frustrating than going to an inservice day, or training session, and come away feeling they will never "get it," or "this will never work in my class."
  • As an instructional technologist, what is your biggest challenge in integrating the technology?
  • Do you offer assistance in the classroom?
  • Are you designing technology-rich lessons or are the teachers expected to create them?
  • Who teaches the students technology literacy? Do you have a computer "person" who does, or is this the teacher's responsibility?
  • Can you show teachers how technology can make their lives easier?
  • What kind of information in small bits can you offer, that will show teachers how technology supports learning? Or, help their students to learn better?
Perhaps you are in a position to provide support to educators and have asked (or answered) these questions? I would love to learn your tips.

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