When people think about classroom diversity, they often do so with regards to students: how each student has a unique background, how diverse their interests are, or how their learning needs differ from one to another. But the diversity of each classroom is given by the teachers as well, and what tools each of them chooses to include (or not) in the instructional process.
The use of edtech varies significantly from school to school. In some cases, it’s in almost every classroom; in others, it’s almost non-existent. Reasons for this vary, from a lack of school funding to a lack of teachers’ confidence with using new tools and equipment in the classroom.
As a teacher, you know better than not to dismiss things for no reason at all. A reluctance to using edtech always stems from more complex issues. I’m sure you know at least a teacher (or someone who knows a teacher) who:
- doesn’t fully understand the benefits of edtech — thinking that teaching online only adds up to their already full plate, without obvious benefits (like better learning outcomes from students or streamlined administrative tasks);
- has limited knowledge on how to use it best — there are just so many options out there, and they are all under constant development, so keeping up with the latest versions or simply picking the right tools for a classroom is a tedious job;
- doesn’t have the time to explore it — even those teachers who are excited about the possibilities edtech can offer, who understand its benefits and don’t have a hard time figuring out how to use it, have trouble coming up with specific lesson plans or other activities based on it;
- is afraid they’ll be replaced by it — even the most reasonable person has some unreasonable fear about something, in this case, being made redundant by technology.
However, with the global pandemic shaking up the education system to its core, the above things don’t seem to matter that much anymore. Online education requires the use of edtech, and if we are to continue to educate students, we can’t ignore the online learning environment.
How to grow your confidence with using edtech these days
With many educational institutions adopting a hybrid model of education or opting for fully online classes, and others preparing for these scenarios as a Plan B, teachers need to make the most of educational technologies and continue to deliver instruction to students no matter if everyone comes to school or not.
It’s easy to get caught in the whirlwind of conflicting ideas, unclear guidelines, and the fear of the unknown. However, edtech is here to stay — and to help you.
Here are the things you should always keep in mind:
Know that edtech is merely a tool
Just like the knife could never replace the chef who is handling it, neither could edtech ever replace a teacher. A school learning management system can host online classes, extra resources, assignments, grades, etc. But it needs a mastermind to create those classes, add those assignments, and so on — and that mastermind is always you, the teacher, never the system itself.
Focus on the benefits of using edtech
Edtech can really make your teaching life easier by taking on repetitive tasks, thus saving you time. Perhaps transitioning all teaching materials online requires more work now, but if all those resources are saved and reused next year and only updated in the year after that, the work is actually a time saver. Edtech can also monitor your students’ progress and help you design personalized assessments, and also identify any issues a student might encounter so that you can offer them targeted support.
Ask for support when you need it
You may be in the front line of including edtech in the classroom, but the success of any edtech initiative is based on the support you receive. Your continuous professional development (CPD) programs should include training around the most effective use of edtech. Also, you can join online communities of practice or other teacher organizations that deal with the same issues you have to deal with, connect with these people, and together find answers to edtech related questions as these may arise.
Be curious, explore and share
Teaching during a pandemic keeps your hands full and your head busy. It’s hard to find the time to keep up with the latest edtech trends, test various options and decide among the best apps, programs, or online tools that can actually help your students learn, no matter where they are.
That’s why it’s crucial that when you do find that time and those great ideas, to share them with your colleagues. A strong community of teachers confident in using edtech will only grow.
Read more: Learning and growing as educators
Teaching is a wonderful job that no pandemic or other type of hardship will make it disappear. However, it is under constant change, and it will continue to change. That’s why it’s paramount to understand the capabilities, benefits, and opportunities of edtech, ask for the support you need to embrace edtech and be confident in your abilities to implement it successfully in your classroom, whether online or face-to-face.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and NEO. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author and educator.