For the past four years, I’ve been studying how technology does – or more often, doesn’t – work its way into rural schools. I’ve driven down dirt roads all over two countries, sat out snowstorms and followed directions to school buildings that read
“Go past the dip in the road, pass three elm trees together, take a left at the turn off where the Johnson’s barn used to be and it’s at the top of a hill.”
Look, if we want our kids to be more successful in life we can’t keep doing the same things. I don’t claim to have all of the answers but after four years, I do think I have some.
Suggestion #1 : Pay teachers to attend short workshops on educational technology
Good teachers work a lot and they often mean to learn the newest application but they have their own children, papers to grade, parents to meet, lessons to plan, maybe a second job and they just don’t find the time. The result is they teach the same way they did last year and it may be good but it could be better. Pay for summer or weekend workshops to learn about educational software and hardware.
There’s a vicious circle assuming teachers won’t use technology so they get no training, have no opportunity to experiment and so they don’t know very much so they don’t use it. I’m not advocating a coding boot camp, but more like a one-hour hands-on lab, twice a semester, where teachers can try out some new application or devices. Another idea I stole from a former co-worker is a “tune-up for your computer”, teaching some basics about computer hardware and operating systems. Teachers are smart. We should treat them like it.
The absolute hands-down number one predictor of whether teachers will use software in their classrooms is if they get training on how to use it. It makes such a difference that we offer as a free service a one-hour session, preferably done in their computer lab, to schools who buy our software .
I’ll have more suggestions coming up but this is one I really strongly recommend because I have seen substantial results from it for relatively little cost.