Teachers and administrators tend to find education technology plans to be a tough sell — and to several different customer bases.
First, there’s got to be funding in place not only for the technology itself, but also training. And implementation. And maintenance. School boards and administrators have to be convinced to open their wallets.
And then there’s the teaching corps who have to buy in to changes. Convincing them that new technology is better than the old can be a tall order.
Students, too, need to be sold on technology. If they aren’t on board, a tech plan just won’t succeed.
Parents are often a forgotten base in this grand equation — and parent cooperation is a necessary element of tech integration taking hold in the classroom, writes Jennifer Carey at Powerful Learning Practice.
Part of it is the effective use of tech, but it’s also important as an element of defense, as tech can be blamed by parents for problems:
Your efforts to engage students and develop important 21st century skills can become the scapegoat explanation for problems that have nothing to do with tech.
Carey’s list of best practices are a sensible curation of much of the wisdom that has been generated from teacher discussion and experience over the last decade. Starting early, she writes, is important:
The first time that parents hear about technology use in the classroom should not be when that child goes home with a tech-related assignment in hand.
Let parents know early in the year that tech is coming, she advocates, and that it’s connected to both curriculum and future skills.
But communication doesn’t end at an announcement — it’s important to follow up with parents about technology use and expectations frequently.
Other tips include being clear about grading, and avoiding too narrow a focus on tech use itself. It’s the skills that matter, writes Carey, not the gadgets, so evaluating students and their projects should constitute a rubric that focuses appropriately on the important parts of the experience.
Even the best-planned, well-executed tech program won’t win over every parent, but frequent, clear communication — a solid part of parent-teacher relationships regardless of technology use — and showing parents that tech use is a part of the school’s comprehensive plan for student success will go a long way to getting parents supportive, and even excited, about tech in the classroom.