Scott McLeod, the author of the blog "Dangerously Irrelevant," has posted a challenge for bloggers at this site: Calling All Bloggers! Leadership 2011.
In some ways technology is sold like exercise equipment on an infomercial. We cannot buy every product that sells itself as helping students learn, but teachers can be the experimenters and offer testimonials to what seems to work well. Unfortunately, there is only so much time for the classroom teacher to fulfill daily responsibilities, so in some ways it is up to the administration to solve this problem.
1. First, administration can give teachers scheduled time to learn, research, share what they have learned, and encourage other teachers to implement what they find being sure to frame this process around the question, "What should students experience in school that will encourage success after they graduate?" This yearlong goal can be revisited at professional development and teacher meetings. Students need to be effective communicators, researchers, critical thinkers and evaluators; they need a personal organizational system that works for them, and they need to find ways to follow through on responsibilities. So if teachers use these outcomes to guide lesson design that naturally integrates technology into units, time will be well spent.
2. It seems administrators can use the time that is already available to help teachers learn about technology. Professional development is one way. Perhaps meetings could open with a YouTube demonstration of how to do something or other. Also, our school has Professional Learning Committees in place, which is potentially a good setting for teachers to develop technological competency by finding, sharing, and demonstrating what works for them. Another possibility is to encourage teachers to form study groups. Perhaps administration could establish graduate credit opportunities for teachers who choose to further their technological knowledge and classroom implementation built around an expert's book or perhaps a series of exercises linked to Bloom's Taxonomy or differentiated learning, or whatever the school wants to emphasize. The possibilities are endless, but without direction time gets away too easily and nothing is done.
3. Teachers are wary of gimmicks, newfangled ideas that seem to go nowhere, and especially of wasted time, so whatever plan administration implements, it is inefficient to lecture teachers on what they need to do because most of it goes in one ear and out the other. Instead, use that precious time to teach teachers something useful (which goes back to #2).
My mind was stretched as I wrote and rewrote this entry because there are so many levels of technological expertise within a school. I do know that teachers appreciate it when their time is valued by administration which is shown when our leaders think ahead, establish a plan, follow through on expectations, and evaluate how well the process worked--all of these steps, not coincidentally, are also the steps good teachers take in the classroom.