By: Jennifer Dunn from SEEN MAGAZINE.
With today’s nearly universal connection to the Internet, computers, software and other types of technology are present in virtually every classroom in the nation. Despite this access, a considerable gap exists between the presence of technology in the classroom and its usage. Schools commonly have a list of technology items they have purchased that either are not used at all or are not used to their maximum potential.
One of the most common reasons such technology remains underutilized results from a school’s or district’s failure to properly manage the implementation of the product. Successful implementations result from careful planning and preparation. There are several critical steps and considerations that facilitate successful product implementation and help sustain the product’s use once implemented.
Here are 6 Steps to the Perfect Technology Implementation Process
- Form An Implementation Team: An important first step in any implementation process is for the school to select an implementation team representing all the departments affected by the technology initiative. Team members may include professionals at all levels, such as teacher leaders, subject matter experts, coaches, office staff, counselors, the technology coordinator and administrators. These team members are assigned the responsibility of advancing the initiative toward effective implementation. The team should develop a systematic approach which includes an action plan, implementation processes, building support and enthusiasm for the change, facilitating the change and delegating roles and responsibilities. Coordinating the effort with a diversified team rather than with an individual is key for helping insure that the technology is actually used after its implementation.
- Communicate : Implementation team members must constantly communicate among themselves, collaborating and working together as a unit. They must also establish open conduits of communication with all the departments in the school. Communicating the plan, the involvement and the expectations should be at the forefront throughout the implementation process. If team members are not having lots and lots of conversations about the plan and listening to the feedback, resistance may occur when staff members feel uninformed and uncomfortable about the changes they will be required to make in their daily routines and activities.
- Evaluate the building infrastructure : Before beginning any technology innovation, schools need to insure they have an adequate building infrastructure in place. The implementation team needs to prepare for the new technology by answering such questions as “Are our infrastructure, wireless network and equipment adequate?” and “Do existing technology staff members have the expertise to implement the identified solution or are new hires necessary?” Being aware of any alterations necessary to the school’s technology infrastructure helps ensure that it is prepared to handle the new initiative and is not lurking as a future hindrance.
- Provide Technology Support: Plans need to be in place to ensure that adequate resources are available to provide staff members with the appropriate technology support. Teachers need to feel confident that they can get help when they have questions or problems using the new technology. They need to know who to contact and how to contact them so their problems can be addressed quickly. Without such support, technology tools that are purchased frequently remain unused in classrooms because teachers don’t have the time or expertise to troubleshoot.
- Establish A Realistic Timetable: Often technology implementation struggles or fails because of some unanticipated incompatibility or unexpected issues. For this reason, implementing the plan all at once throughout the entire school may not be the best option. Instead, first test the new technology on a limited basis under actual classroom conditions. Phasing in the initiative in different stages allows for such testing. Implementing gradually by grade level or by letting willing staff members take the plan for a test drive facilitates getting any discernible issues worked out during the pre-game warmup. The more extensive the testing of the technology, the better the chance of uncovering potential issues and allowing time for them to be addressed.
- Furnish Professional Development: A critical element in achieving a successful implementation is a well-conceived professional development program having a twofold design. The first phase of the professional development program includes the basic technical knowledge of how to use the new technology. Teachers would typically learn how to use the technology in a workshop and outside of their classroom environments. Such training is necessary, but is not sufficient to ensure that the technology will be used in the classroom.
The second phase ensures that staff members have significant time and resources to learn, practice, create and implement the new skill. During this phase of the professional development is usually led by school’s subject matter experts and academic coaches take the primary responsibility for helping teachers create new classroom activities and lesson plans incorporating the new technology. Sometimes the company providing the technology provides this type of training.
The training should identify the advantages of the technology, highlight how the initiative can add value in the classroom and focus on integrating the implementation into the classroom curriculum. Teachers are much more likely to embrace new technology once they know specifically how they can use it in their classrooms.
These are some of the critical factors that schools need to consider while implementing technology into the classroom. If properly addressed,these factors can all work together to facilitate the implementation process and greatly enhance the chances for its success.
Content from SEEN Magazine – Issue 17.3 | Winter 2015 See the full article here.