For all schools, whether you’re part of a multi-academy trust, or you are local authority funded, deploying new technologies can be a complex process with limited financial resources. It is vital, therefore, that any new budget devoted to educational technology delivers a return year after year.
But, IT can fail to live up to its promise without the right planning and setup. So, what practical steps can you take to invest your hard-earned budget wisely, and make sure your edtech rollout is a success for your school?
1. Undertake training
Ongoing staff training is crucial to ensure teachers keep up with the pace of technological developments. But despite this, only 5% of teachers believe that they receive full training and support when it comes to the educational technologies at their schools. For example, one in five teachers has never received training on how to use interactive touchscreens and associated software, despite this being their most vital teaching tool (State of technology in Education 2018).
A lack of training can result in edtech going unused and any investment going to waste. So, teacher training must be a priority if you want to safeguard your edtech rollout.
Of course, the challenge of teacher upskilling can seem daunting, but when it comes to making the most of your budget, you don’t have to do everything at once. Consider a phased approach to any IT upgrades. This will spread budget impacts and also allow time for crucial staff training. You should also look out for educational technology that is simple to use and which comes with inbuilt guidance and support such as the Promethean ActivPanel.
2. Ensure a pedagogical focus
Too many educators still view technology with uncertainty and scepticism. In fact, in some schools teachers are calling for a “focus on teaching and learning“ over technology. This demonstrates a lack of understanding as to the benefits of edtech, and its ability to support teachers and their preferred educational methods.
In reality, edtech can be used to support collaborative learning, flipped learning, deep learning and student-centred learning. So, to make your edtech rollout a success it is vital that schools don’t invest in “technology for technology’s sake” but choose products that can support pedagogical approaches.
For example, the Promethean ActivPanel comes with ActivInspire software, designed to foster collaboration and active learning, and transform traditional, lecture-based classrooms into learning environments infused with imaginative, interactive experiences that captivate students’ attention.
3. Create a digital culture
As well as selecting products that ensure a pedagogical focus, it is also important that you make it clear to everyone how any investment relates to teaching and learning.
In the school environment, a lack of digital awareness is one of the most significant barriers to IT success. Many traditional teachers are still not comfortable with technology, and while they might use it to a basic level, they remain unconvinced when it comes to trying something new.
But our world is evolving, and to prepare children for life beyond the classroom, we must ensure that our teachers are digitally adept if there is any hope that technology will be used effectively in schools.
To create a culture that embraces edtech, it is vital to get all teachers onside. This means investing in products that are simple to use, which come with easy to understand support, and which enhance – rather than obstruct – tried and tested teaching methods.
4. Boost teacher engagement
As we have discussed, getting teachers receptive to technology is a must if you want your edtech rollout to be a success. To help you to do this, get people involved early in the process.
Rather than foisting tech on educators, tap into their insights, find out what their challenges are, and show them how technology can help.
For example, if a lack of time is the problem, demonstrate how the ability to automate marking, carry out online assessments and track student progress with reporting tools and analytics can free teachers to focus their energies on teaching and learning. Teachers want to do the job at hand, and this means getting rid of anything that stops them from doing that; be that unnecessary paperwork or bad behaviour.
Of course, training is also essential when it comes to boosting teacher engagement. Talk to teachers to find out what they need to feel confident when using new edtech (e.g. guides, case studies, videos, training, regular drop-in sessions, etc.).
5. Make sure your installation is carried out correctly
Once you have established what you want the edtech to achieve, and have everyone on board, it is crucial that your installation is a success if you don’t want to lose your hard-gained support.
Where appropriate, things to consider to ensure the minimum amount of disruption during any IT installation include:
- Has an assessment been made of the desired location to ensure that nothing has been overlooked within the teaching space? A site survey will allow you to gather information that can be shared with all parties involved in the installation process before the work starts. For example, if you are mounting an ActivPanel, is the wall suitable and do you have the necessary electrical outlets?
- Have you created a Statement of Works? This ensures everyone knows what is expected of them before the installation begins. Things to consider include room access, storage, timescales, the order of installation etc.
- Do you have a full list of the products to be installed? This will ensure that all the product(s) are fully operational as designed. You should also make sure that any associated operational items (e.g. remote control, pens, user guides, etc.) are provided.
Installation is a significant part of any edtech roll out, so it is vital to get it right. Many IT suppliers will not warrant any fault occurring due to improper installation.
At Promethean, we offer a range of installation support options for MATs and independent schools. From installing onsite for you to training your own installation team, we ensure that your setup underpins your investment and allows the real benefits of educational technology to be realised.