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Why more IT managers prioritise staff training the most

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Teacher training is a complex issue, creating conflict across all three of the audiences surveyed for the State of Technology report. To start with, there is a disconnect between SMT and teachers’ perceptions when it comes to training. While 86.1% of SMT members are onboard with their school’s strategic training priorities, just 58.3% of teachers are.

Perhaps this is down to communication issues, but it could be that SMT members are not seeing the true picture of the day-to-day challenges their teaching staff are facing. While 21.7% of SMT said training is a key priority, only 10.2% of teachers do. Have SMTs lost sight of the other demands on teachers’ time?

SMT and their teaching staff may disagree on the importance of training and which position it should feature on the to-do list, but IT managers have some views of their own.

This year’s State of Technology report highlighted a surprising training statistic: IT managers place greater importance on staff training than teachers do.

IT staff and their training concerns

19.7% of IT managers identified training as a key priority, highlighting concerns around their own training plans and, with edtech rising up the school’s overall agenda, concerns about how it is being applied. It seems those responsible for the ‘tech’ in ‘edtech’ are increasingly concerned about its use, and no doubt, the assistance they will be required to provide.

Are teachers using edtech to its full potential?

The report suggests that they’re not. And this is clear to IT support staff. More training would benefit teachers – the better they can use the technology, the more they can use it to their advantage. IT managers know this and realise the impact that a better trained, more tech-enabled teaching staff could have on reducing their own volume of work.

Are IT staff reaching their true potential?

At the same time, IT staff are concerned about the lack of SMT understanding of their own developmental needs, with one MAT IT/Network Manager saying, “…as the school is run by teachers, they have no idea what training non-teachers requires.” SMT must work harder to bring IT staff into the fold, understand their training needs and implement strategies to keep the school a step ahead.

As edtech continues to enjoy more prominence in school strategy, and in the classroom itself, IT staff are increasingly integral to school operations – and they need training that reflects this new status.

But why are teachers turning away from training?

We would suggest that teachers care about their development as much as they ever did, but they simply don’t have the time or resources to commit to it. In fact, the percentage of teachers that say they get adequate edtech training and support has tumbled: in 2016, 55% said they did, now just 16.5% say the same.

This paints a disappointing picture. The State of Technology clearly showed that all three groups value edtech more than ever – but perhaps without a strategic understanding or commitment to ensuring staff have the skills to use it to their best advantage.

Making teacher training count

Teachers recognise that training is important. That their skills need to evolve, and that effective training programmes are the key to that. But training represents yet another drain on their time. As time-poor as teachers are, it’s understandable that training has quickly down the list of priorities.

Any training delivered – critically – has to be effective. It has to be a good use of teachers’ limited time. It should be clear what the objectives of the training are, how it will help teachers to do their jobs more effectively, and it should be practical and applicable in the day-to-day classroom environment.

Enlist increasingly strategic IT support

As technology moves higher up the agenda and becomes ever more closely intertwined with teaching, learning and school culture, it’s important we remember to stay close to those that know tech the best – and know how to get the most out of it.

IT staff are in the unique position of having a relatively objective view of tech and how it can benefit both wider school and individual classroom. It’s time they were more involved in strategy.

With teachers more time-poor than ever, and IT managers increasingly in the spotlight, perhaps it’s unsurprising that IT staff are more concerned about training. But one thing’s for sure – while edtech can act as an enabler for any number of educational objectives, it’s at its most effective when all parties are using it to its full potential, and effective training is the key to ensuring that.

For more insight into the views of classroom teachers and educational leaders, view the latest The State of Technology in Education 2019/20 report.

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