Overcoming the edtech obstacles

Purchasing and implementing new educational technology can be more of a hurdle than it seems, says Dayna Amboy

Is there still a reluctance to embrace technology in schools from a teaching point of view, and what can we do to help promote the use of edtech in all schools?

Teachers want to learn new technology; they’re drawn to it as an engaging way to present material and connect with students. But there’s only so much time in the day to learn new tech. There are multiple options of each technology to choose from; vetting and learning these takes valuable time. Not to mention the challenges teachers often face to install new tech on school computers, and any budgetary considerations to purchase it in the first place.  When you add all of those things up, new tech can be more of a hurdle than it seems.

We need to support teachers in learning new technology, giving them tools that they can actually use in their classroom, that are effective for engaging students. We need to make sure that they have the support they need as far as training, funding, installation, and following through with IT support so that the technology can function smoothly in their classroom.  

Are budget restrictions a major factor as to why we are seeing a digital divide between teachers and their students? What can we do to improve this? 

Budget restrictions are definitely a concern, coupled with approval workflow. Even when funds are available, they often must go through a multi-step approval process to get permission to install new tech and integrate it with existing school systems. Given these challenges, it’s not surprising that many teachers buy new tech out of their own pockets, or opt to limit new technology acquisition.

It’s not surprising that many teachers buy new tech out of their own pockets, or opt to limit new technology acquisition

Budget restrictions certainly aren’t the only reason for the student-teacher digital divide. Today’s generation of students are technology natives. That organic competency is a powerful influence, one which teachers are eager to harness as a gateway to engaging students in the curriculum. Teachers know how much students love technology, and how well they learn when tech is included as part of the process.  This is probably the most motivating factor for teachers to learn new tech – how well students respond, and the positive outcomes.

How often should schools look at training teaching staff to use the latest edtech, or is it more important that educators show initiative and take responsibility in keeping up with new developments?

Teachers are already taking their own time to learn new tech and new teaching methods. It’s important for schools to offer actionable training on edtech so that teachers can make it a priority, and it should definitely be a regular part of school-based training.

Do you think tech suppliers should as standard supply teacher training on their technology products?

Training is very important, especially when it’s done in the right timeframe as to be actionable. Ideally, it should be geared specifically for educators, to address their particular challenges and goals in the classroom.

How important is it that teachers embrace social media rather than shy away from it? Do the benefits of using Twitter and Facebook to engage with students outweigh the potential risks?

Social media is a great way for teachers to connect with other educators and share ideas. Twitter makes it easier than ever for teachers to build a personal learning network, which is very valuable especially when learning technology not already adopted at your particular school. 

Dayna Amboy is Education Marketing Manager at TechSmith

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