December 23, 2021
Education technology (EdTech) tools have the power to make an educator’s job either much easier, or much more stressful — and district IT teams can make all the difference in the relationship between teachers and technology.
While it’s often clear for IT professionals to see the potential of EdTech tools to enhance the learning experience, many teachers are reluctant to use technology or report feeling stressed about adopting tech tools into their teaching approach. Keep in mind that if teachers seem resistant to technology, it’s not because they don’t want to improve education — it’s more than likely the technology isn’t easily or clearly meeting them where they’re at, and solving for their needs.
District network admins and IT teams can help teachers with stress management related to technology by ensuring they provide adequate training and support, auditing EdTech tools for ease of use, and keeping communication open between teachers and IT teams.
Here are four ways to help reduce stress that arises from the challenges teachers face with technology in the classroom.
Remember, for most EdTech solutions, the end user is not an IT professional. When purchasing EdTech tools for your district, look for solutions that are easy to learn, have intuitive features and interface, and come with instructional materials that keep a non-tech-savvy end user in mind.
Most teachers don’t have extra time in their schedules to dedicate to learning new technology. If a tool is too difficult or time-consuming to learn, it becomes one more thing on a teacher’s lengthy to-do list, causing more frustration than convenience.
Tech with a complex user experience will get left by the wayside in favor of tools that make it simple for users, whether provided by the school or not.
If an EdTech tool doesn’t seem to meet their needs or make their jobs easier, educators won’t use it. Furthermore, being required to use a tool that seems arbitrary or doesn’t make their jobs easier will only cause resentment and stress.
It’s the responsibility of the network admin and IT team to select EdTech solutions that meet the needs of their educators and students. The best way to do this is to ask for teacher input. Have discussions with teachers about their pain points in the virtual or in-person classroom, and where they experience gaps in the existing technology available to them.
When you have chosen a solution, ensure your teachers understand how the technology can help them accomplish their goals, such as: meeting their curriculum requirements and learning objectives, managing their classroom, or saving them time in lesson planning.
A major source of stress is when technology breaks or fumbles in the middle of class or during a live meeting. This not only disrupts the education experience, but teachers are often left not knowing how to troubleshoot or where to turn for support, which only adds to their stress.
Make it as easy as possible for teachers to submit an IT ticket, and give them a clear method to get in touch with IT for immediate or urgent help — such as when their video streaming software goes down in the middle of a virtual class. Knowing that there’s an avenue to get assistance can go a long way in reducing stress of using technology.
Set expectations about the IT team’s availability to respond to tech issues, both urgent and non-urgent.
Consider setting up a recurring time slot for open “IT office hours” where the IT team is on hand to help teachers with any and all tech-related questions. The more supported teachers feel by their technology professionals, the less alone they will feel in using EdTech.
Being left to navigate a new tech tool after just a single training session can be extremely stressful. Teachers need technology training not just once at the start of the school year, or when implementing a new EdTech tool, but ongoing throughout the year.
Set up a consistent training schedule with opportunities for teachers to get instruction and guidance, and to build on their skills with the district’s EdTech tools. Get teachers involved in helping to craft their own professional development plan for EdTech.
Ask what they want to learn, how each tech tool applies in their classroom, and where they feel their strengths and weaknesses lie, so you can cater training to their practical needs. Ask if your EdTech vendor can help support your teachers, by providing tutorials, instructional materials, or even hands-on training.
When teachers can feel and see their own progress as they master tech tools, they may feel less stressed about using these tools more fully in the classroom or taking on new technology.
The following article is written by EdTech expert and author Carl Hooker. Carl has 20+ years in education and K12 consulting. He speaks on ...
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