July 13, 2017
8 Useful Tips for Teachers Experiencing Edtech Frustration
At some point in the modern teacher's career, a change will happen that will exasperate and inspire them in equal measure. It's safe to say that educational technology has certainly done its fair share of that for many an educator. There's no denying the incorporation of technology in learning gets notable results with our digital students. Nevertheless, edtech frustration is a real thing that teachers experience enough to warrant seeking a strategy to overcome it.
In the TeachThought article 8 Tips For Teachers Frustrated With Technology, this is exactly what Terry Heick lays out. He understands the consternation felt by the educator facing a classroom design in which technology is now a given, and standards that don't seem to accommodate it:
"You’re told to 'use technology,' but nothing seems built for it. And when you do, what goes well is usually drowned out by the commotion of it all to the point that you’re not sure what actual learning is taking place."
It's clear that Terry's been there when it comes to edtech frustration. So the 8 strategies for dealing with it that he shares in his article are worth considering. It's simple and sage advice that those of us either teaching with tech or wanting to start shouldn't ignore.
Terry's 8 Tips for Managing Edtech Frustration
- Start small: Baby steps, baby steps. It's appealing to want to glom onto every shiny new piece of edtech that passes our eyes, because all we want is for our students to be engaged and to have valuable classroom experiences. Ultimately this is a recipe for disaster, because edtech isn't a cure all.
- Begin with what you know: Familiarity provides comfort to the wary educator, so choose something you're already comfortable with and build on your edtech repertoire from there.
- Build on positives: It's the little victories, Terry reminds us, that count in lessening our bouts with edtech frustration or avoiding them altogether. For example, if everyone was able to log in without incident, it's the beginning of a good day.
- Create reasonable success standards: What are your milestones for success with edtech? No matter what, they should be SMART goals—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-efficient.
- Let students lead: Remember that you're in a classroom full of individuals to whom technology is second nature. It's okay to use that to everyone's advantage. If you don't know about something edtech-related, ask them.
- Separate technology and learning: Often for the educator inexperienced with edtech, they assume that technology guarantees learning and engagement—it doesn't. Edtech frustration comes from assuming that if our kids don't learn, then technology hasn't done its job. But in reality, it was only ever meant to be an assistant to what is still the most amazing piece of technology any classroom will ever have: you, the teacher.
- Focus on student actions: Terry explains this one best: "It’s not about you and what you do. What are they doing, and why? How can you help them develop their own standards for quality, so that they are their own harshest and most (lovingly) consistent critics?"
- Use the 40/40/40 Rule: This is about big-picture thinking, and moving backwards from the end. He explains this useful rule for managing edtech frustration in this article.
In the end, technology will only become increasingly a part of the modern digital learning experiences our students will have. As we said, edtech frustration is real and it's out there, but it need not be debilitating to the classroom teacher. Using simple approaches for in-class management like the ones Terry Heick offers above, you can side-step edtech frustration and begin using technology to enhance, rather than control, your practices.
Make friends with edtech as best you can. Then hurling that shiny toy out the nearest window might not be necessary after all.
Read Terry Heick's article 8 Tips For Teachers Frustrated With Technology on TeachThought.