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Five Tips for Developing an Educational Technology Program


EducationWorld is pleased to present the following article contributed by Jill Paugys, an elementary school teacher and freelance writer for OnlineSchools.com. Her expertise is in the area of literacy curriculum and instruction.

If your school hasn’t yet begun integrating an educational technology program into the curriculum, never fear. Computers, gadgets, apps and the Internet are, and will continue to be, a way of life for today’s students.

Educators know an educational technology program should take up permanent in their school, but may feel apprehension if starting from scratch. Is it possible to get every staff member on board? What resources are available?

Schools can prepare students to be independent and successful learners by building the skills needed in a technology-enhanced environment. The following five tips can help any school maximize student opportunity by implementing an ed-tech program into the curriculum.


1. Set goals.

Even the smallest goal can be monumental in the course of developing an ed-tech program. A manageable first goal could be to use two Web sites, tools, apps or programs a month, or to commit to quarterly implementation of a project-based learning assignment that incorporates technology. Whatever the goal, the individual who sets it needs to be comfortable with it. A document camera and SMART Board are two user-friendly tools that may be a good start for staff members who feel intimidated by technology. A document camera can be used to display primary sources for students during social studies, while the SMART Board allows both the students and teacher to interact with a math problem.


2. Plan teacher trainings.

While some staff members may take the initiative to learn independently, administrators can facilitate learning by organizing professional development seminars and teacher training. A great place to begin is with experts already available within the school. Does the school have a technology teacher already on staff who could share a few ideas? Perhaps the tech support team could put together a presentation on simple troubleshooting to help raise teachers’ comfort level.

Webinars are another excellent resource. Many companies even offer these trainings free to schools. SimpleK12 and Tech and Learning both provide free webinars and online learning programs, while the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) offers a variety of teacher training sessions, conferences, podcasts and webinars for a fee.


3. Modify what’s already out there.

Most ideas are someone else’s—they’re just borrowed and reshaped to fit individual needs. A technology lesson doesn't have to be invented, just recreated. Anyone with a computer and Internet access can start exploring, because there are countless resources online for teachers and schools on how to integrate technology into lessons of all subjects. Revise, add, tweak, edit or shorten until the accommodations fit the specific lesson's objective.


4. Think of technology as one piece of the curriculum.

Instead of thinking about how to create a lesson with technology, teachers should consider how a planned lesson could be enhanced with technology. Bill Gates hit the nail on the head on when he said, “The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't even really notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.” Looking at educational technology as a bite rather than the whole enchilada will also help reluctant staff members who may feel like they already have enough on their plates.


5. Take your time, practice, be patient and take baby steps.

While technology in the classroom should develop organically, there may be some push-back from educators who are reluctant about tech in general. They may be unfamiliar with it, or deem it unreliable. Time, practice and patience will help these teachers become more comfortable with tech tools.

These simple resources are perfect for easing reluctant teachers into the world of ed-tech:

  • Blogging sites such as Edmodo.com or discussion boards make it possible for students to have conversations at home or as part of homework assignments.
  • Skype opens the doors of the classroom and makes the whole world accessible for the ultimate distance learning experience. Skyping with the author of a book being read in class can really help bring the book to life.
  • Tagxedo.com and Wordle.net can make vocabulary and spelling-word practice fun for students.
  • Google Apps for Education is an excellent free resource for schools seeking project-based learning opportunities.
  • Students can use Prezi.com for class presentations. The Web site will help students organize information to be shared with classmates.


The number and variety of ed-tech resources available to teachers and administrators make increasing technology in schools fairly manageable and convenient. Developing an ed-tech program doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if a team of teachers and administrators plan an effective way to start implementing. Any ed-tech program will take dedication and time to develop, but the long-term benefits for teachers and students will be worth the investment.

 

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