The success of any technology initiative in any school will be acknowledged based on whether or not it has had a positive impact on educational outcomes. While choosing the right edtech for the needs of the school — from a complex learning management system to a simple education app — is a very important part of making it successful, there is one aspect that often gets overlooked. A human aspect: the teachers.
Training teachers to use technology in the classroom so that they improve their teaching techniques and support students in their learning paths is paramount to edtech success.
But teachers can be reluctant to technology and not very fond of training programs either. More often than not, they only participate to these programs because they are mandatory. They can’t really be blamed for this, as many professional development programs could use a makeover.
However, not all PD programs for teachers are created equal. Let’s take the example of a program that helps teachers learn how to use a new school LMS. Here are a few ideas that can make them embrace the new edtech more easily.
5 Tips on how to train teachers to use an LMS
Without further ado, let’s dive in:
Explain the WHY before the HOW TO
The first step in a successful training program for using a new LMS is for teachers to understand its benefits. Just like any other student, they need to understand the WHY before they can get to the HOW TO. Why should they beat their heads to learn how to use a new platform in the first place?
Why should they create online courses and other learning materials?
How can all the online collaboration help their students?
What can they do with all the learning data collected by an LMS?
How can they use that data to support the learning process of their students?
What are the long-term benefits of learning how to use such a platform?
In other words, any training program for teachers needs to be clear right from the start about what’s in it for them.
Make the connection between the virtual and the physical classrooms
Teachers need to be trained in pedagogies too. It’s not enough if they only learn how to click around the LMS, but don’t actually know how to improve their class activities with it. This means learning techniques such as blended learning, flipped classroom, etc. but also understanding the value that the LMS brings for them and their students.
Trainers should make sure teachers understand the connection between each of the features and functionalities of the LMS and the impact these can have in the classroom, on each student’s learning experience. There’s nothing worse than a trainer who can’t transmit onto the other teachers the importance and benefits that the LMS will bring.
Put a face on the training program
Text is great and teachers generally love text, but when it comes to training, text is not enough. Teachers need variety in their learning materials just like students do. What’s more, they need that connection with their instructor as well.
Face-to-face training and having someone explaining and showing how to use the LMS is the preferred method of learning for many teachers. They understand better when they can play around in the new platform while knowing they have someone to turn to whenever they have a question.
If face-to-face training is not an option — which may happen frequently due to costs or time constraints — videos are the best alternative. They also work better than plain text, as teachers can associate their learning of the new platform with the face in the video.
Don’t ignore microlearning
You think only kids and teenagers have the attention span of a goldfish? Adults make no exception. The human brain simply can’t focus for too long.
A popular rule is to put an equal sign between the age of the learner and the minutes they can focus and maybe add 2 more minutes. (For example, an eight year old can hold focus for up to 10 minutes, while a 16 year old can do that for up to 18 minutes.) However, this rule no longer works for adults. A 45 year old teacher can’t focus for 47 minutes straight. Everything caps at around 20 to 30 minutes.
Add to this the number of disruptions that happen during the day — in the classroom, in the playground and even in the teachers’ room — and no wonder microlearning seems a great idea for training programs for teachers.
Adapt, adapt, adapt
Everyone knows that students learn differently. Teachers learning to use an LMS are just another kind of students. And they learn differently too.
Some prefer visual strategies, others need a combination of techniques. Some learn new things on the fly, others need to dwell more on some concepts, or even need to start at a very basic level (for example, they first need to understand what online learning means, and only then how can they create assessments for an online lesson).
The trainer needs to offer a variety of training materials and adapt to all of the above situations. If teachers don’t enjoy or have a hard time understanding how to use a new LMS, they can’t be expected to instill a learning desire in their students when they have to use the same LMS.
Over to you
What other tactics and strategies are used in your school to support teachers in learning how to use a new learning management system? Do share them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and NEO. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author and educator.