Combating tech fatigue in the classroom
November 28, 2022
School IT professionals want to support teachers and students in achieving their goals. That’s why many have spent the last few years meticulously researching and choosing the right hardware, software, and cybersecurity tools to help them thrive.
Educators needed technology to keep the classroom running and many spent countless hours reworking their teaching strategies and learning how to use these new digital tools. So, the phenomenon of tech fatigue among teachers comes as no surprise. Teachers are feeling the strain caused by the pandemic, including the challenge of meeting higher expectations when it comes to using technology at work.
That doesn’t mean teachers aren’t willing to use or see the benefits of technology. In Houghton Mifflin Harcourts 8th Annual Educator Confidence Report, 68% of teachers acknowledged that Edtech has become essential to the classroom.
But learning how to use tech as a stop gap is not the same thing as learning how to use it confidently and effectively. Here are a few ways a school IT professional, can help combat tech fatigue in the classroom:
Before undertaking the challenge of addressing tech fatigue in schools, it’s important to have a clear picture of which technologies are being used, how often, and by whom.
To get these answers, check usage statistics for each of the software programs that have been invested in. Sometimes this information will be available through the software’s central dashboard. Other times, this information can be found through the devices’ operating systems. Wherever possible, having hard numbers will be helpful in figuring out usage.
It’s smart to also survey teachers to find out which technologies they use and how often. Even with the usage data from the software itself, understanding teachers’ perceptions can help determine which solutions teachers feel are most valuable, even if they don’t use them as often.
Once it has been determined which solutions are not getting as much usage, investigation into the why can start. Often, it’s because teachers are either not convinced of the value of the solution or don’t know how to use it. In either case, providing more training opportunities is often the right course of action.
There are a few key ways to approach training.
Set teachers up with the ability to self-serve by creating training courses within a learning management system. Many software developers provide on-demand video or tutorial materials and knowledge base access to help users get familiar with the tool. If none exist, consider creating them. It may be a time-consuming process, but can save time in the long run, as it will eliminate the need to repeat the training for individual teachers.
Often, edtech vendors offer onsite or remote training for both individuals and groups of teachers. If this fits within your budget, it can be a good investment, because it can drive adoption and usage, preventing waste on resources for solutions teachers aren’t using.
Champion your power users
In the discovery process, there were likely names uncovered of a few technology champions among the teachers. These are the people who consistently use one or more of the solutions provided.
Leverage these champions’ stories and examples when communicating with other teachers. Consider recording a short interview with the champions to highlight the ways they’re leveraging technology in their classroom. Hearing specific examples of each solution in use can help inspire more adoption and usage among other teachers who want to replicate that success.
Encourage champions to serve as ambassadors for other teachers’ questions and challenges. Sometimes, it’s easier for a teacher to walk across the hall and ask a question than to connect with busy IT teams.
Update old systems
Finally, identify where the gap in usage might be caused by unreliable or outdated solutions. Not only are older programs more likely to introduce cybersecurity risks, but they may also be more confusing and less relevant to teachers’ needs than modern software and hardware. Worse still, they might require teachers to perform manual data entry and other laborious tasks that add to, rather than reduce, their burden.
Getting technology right can lead to increased workplace satisfaction, where outdated systems can leave teachers frustrated and overburdened. Prioritize the need for updated technology and not expecting legacy solutions to meet needs they weren’t designed for.
Combatting fatigue requires strategy and patience
Changing attitudes and habits can take time, so don’t expect usage to grow overnight. Determining how to drive adoption can sometimes be more of a trial-and-error process as you try to figure out the underlying reasons a solution is not being used as much as you’d hoped.
Communicate often with teachers — both power users and those who shy away from technology — to understand the many factors that can drive someone to use or not use a provided edtech solution. Be persistent about providing training and support.
If there are still solutions that aren’t clicking for teachers despite all various efforts, consider whether it may be time to update to a different solution or to reclaim that budget for other endeavors. Ultimately, the right edtech for the school is the edtech teachers embrace and use.
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