Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Organic Spread of Classroom Tech

Converge magazine advocated a technology strategy that I also heartily endorse. Let technology initiatives start as small experiments and then let teachers clamor for the things that they see working, rather than trying to anticipate the way they will use technology. Here is how they put it. 
The first time the district made interactive whiteboards and document cameras available in the grant program, staff members expected to purchase between 10 and 20 devices. But only five educators applied. 
"What it really came down to was people didn't know what they were or what they were capable of," said JoAnn DePue, director of technology, data and assessment. 
But as other teachers saw what the five educators were doing in the classroom with the tools, they got interested too. The next time the grant option came up for the devices, all the teachers in one elementary school applied.
The reported a similar experience with the spread of podcasting.
Teachers weren't sure they had time to create podcasts, so technology staff showed a few students how to do it. Within the first year, half of the elementary school students produced at least one podcast that was tied to the curriculum. The next year, almost every student had at least one digital piece online.
The problem for most teachers is that they just don't have the time to figure out new things. But once they see how something new can make class better or easier, they are happy to spend the time to get up to speed.

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