Reflections on EdTech
“That just won’t work here.”
“The teachers don’t want it!”
“Ha! They wouldn’t even be able to the find the power button!”
How often have we, as EdTech leaders and early adopters in our schools, heard lines like these before? It could be after coming back from a really cool conference and being incredibly excited to share some wonderful new EdTech resources with our fellow teachers, and then someone invariably responds with a negative comment about how the teachers just don’t want it. Period. End of story.
Well, a recent survey conducted in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation asked teachers across America to gauge the effectiveness of different types of education materials. When asked to evaluate the statement “Digital resources such as classroom technology and wed-based programs help my students’ academic achievement,” 44% indicated that they agreed strongly with that statement, and whopping 93% of all teachers indicated that they agreed, either strongly or somewhat! When asked to evaluate a similar statement, which indicated that the aforementioned digital resources “engage my student in learning,” again, 95% of teachers agreed, either strongly or somewhat. (Click on the image below for an infographic with full response details)
While I will grant you that this data is from only one survey, the results are nonetheless striking. They indicate a level of buy in by our faculty that is not generally ascribed to them. This information should get us excited, because it points to a range of really cool possibilities for integrating technology in more meaningful ways in our schools going forward.
But at the same time, the data should be sobering.
We should be asking ourselves: Why, with the acknowledgement from teachers that technology HELPS students learn and achieve, are we not more successful at integrating EdTech in our schools? I think the missing element here (and it’s not rocket science!) is training and support. The contrasts between this data and the reality of the facts on the ground in terms of teacher technology adoption, leads me to believe that we need to redouble our efforts at outreach, support, and cultivating a culture where it is ok to experiment and fail. As the survey indicates, our teachers like EdTech. They even see it as educational valuable. But all too often, they don’t know where to start. It becomes all the more vital for us to smile, be patient, and teach technology to staff members that want to integrate EdTech, but just don’t know how to yet.
(Of course the cynical response could be “well, Jewish schools are different,” or “this survey is bunk,” etc etc. What do you think? Is it as simple as providing support? Are there deeper issues here?