The fact that education needs to change isn’t something new. Thinkers, authors, teachers, and school leaders have been saying it for many years, citing areas such as curriculum, pedagogy, school restructuring, and of course, technology.
In fact, any edtech leader, IT manager, or anyone in charge of implementing new technology has actually been a change manager in one way or another. Keep in mind that this role can be immensely rewarding and difficult at the same time. That’s because managing change isn’t about choosing a new platform or migrating to a new system — it’s about the people that will work with the new tools and how comfortable they are with doing so effectively.
Many organizations instinctively resist change. Maybe that’s because they’ve tried other things that didn’t work, they’ve been told to “just use this” without much guidance, or they don’t see why they should focus on technology too much.
Helping teachers and admins see the value of edtech
Of course, due to the recent events, this has become a moot point, as more and more teachers have learned that they need technology now more than ever.
Whatever their reasons, change management isn’t about implementing what you think they need, it’s about offering what they really do need.
From improving learning outcomes to showing concrete usefulness in everyday tasks, here are some things that help teachers and admins see the value of edtech:
Aligning goals and solving problems
As long as your school’s edtech solutions effectively solve their problems, it’s hard for teachers not to see their value. However, sometimes this becomes a situation where we can’t see the forest for the trees. That’s because change coming from the top-down means that oftentimes teachers are presented with tools without being consulted first and without learning how to use them to their full potential.
A strategy that comes from the input of teachers through test pilots and constant feedback is more valuable because it gives them a sense of ownership. Ownership leads to feeling responsible for the process of digital transformation instead of resisting change. The overarching goal is to see the teachers and admins as beneficiaries of e-learning, which really boil down to listening to what they have to say.
Showing usefulness in everyday tasks
The person in charge of change management should get a sense of how resistant people are to change, as some schools are better at coping with it than others. If the culture isn’t so open to implementing new things, the worst thing that you can do is to ignore the critics. Instead, find out why they’re so wary of change. Maybe they have been promised new and shiny tools in the past only to find out that they weren’t so great after all. Maybe the school is facing budget cuts and uncertainty.
Some perceive technology as a sort of replacement for educators, which is actually untrue. With edtech, the role of a teacher or admin is even more important. Make it clear that they are not being replaced — the old technology is. A red pen and many hours spent grading at home are replaced by online grading. Printed handouts are becoming less popular when we have digital ones etc. Administrators don’t have to carry out meetings face to face as web conferencing provides more flexibility, and so on.
Read more: Will AI replace teachers?
Seeing how technology enriches learning
This isn’t just about replacing old technology — it’s about seeing the immense potential of enriching teaching and learning. In light of recent events, it’s become more and more obvious that schools have to adapt. Once they see how much their students improve, it becomes much easier to try new things.
More than that, it’s having an overview of progress, making it harder for students to be left behind, it’s about offering the possibility of students to reach out for extra help online, and it’s about allowing them to learn better.
Otherwise, show them how older methods aren’t so reliable for some students, such as those that have a learning disability. Better and improved technology helps them keep up and even flourish in class.
Taking it step by step
It’s easy to overestimate or underestimate the help that teachers need when they start out with a new platform. The truth is that everyone is different and there’s no shame in that. For starters, you can create courses for their own professional development so they get a sense of how a platform works. You can organize mini-workshops or webinars to present new devices.
In this way, you are also getting a sense of their doubts about the process and how you can address them. For example, if they’re not sure that one tool is going to work, don’t ignore their opinion – instead, show them how it works, what are the benefits, and yes, what could be the downsides, so they are prepared for everything. Take note of things that simply don’t work for them and the ones that do.
Otherwise, encouraging teachers and admins to help each other when needed is a more sustainable way to ensure that everyone is on board with the changes.
Create a judgment-free zone
Standing in front of a classroom and having your laptop break down is on par with having your T-shirt on backward. I should know, both have happened to me (thankfully, not on the same day).
It’s surely uncomfortable to deal with tech difficulties or feel as if you know much less than your students do. Teachers and admins face the pressure of being always one step ahead, so enough training and help should be mandatory.
It’s easier to implement a new thing if there is a community of teachers that can pitch in and help with advice and showing new methods of teaching online. Creating a community means creating a judgment-free zone, in which not knowing isn’t a cause for embarrassment, it’s a step in the right direction.
Read more: Learning and growing as educators
At the end of the day, who are we implementing change for if not teachers and admins? What could be more important than offering the best education we can for students? That’s what showing the value of edtech is all about. With patience and a long term vision, any school can become more adapted to changes in education.
Ioana believes that education in action is the only way to change the world. When she is not writing about learning and ed tech, she can usually be seen reading a book and drinking lots of coffee.