Technology in Schools – It’s about time

This post is a result of some stuff that has been buzzing around in my head lately. It is also a response to a post from one of my favourite educational thinkers – Joel Speranza. Joel’s post is called How to Manipulate Time with Technology.

Over the last ten years, I have worked in three different schools and in all three I’ve had some sort of leadership role to do with innovation in teaching and learning.

In that time, I’ve found myself repeating this statement a lot:

Technology is NOT my passion.

My passion is teaching and learning.

This is absolutely true. I chose to be a teacher, I did not choose to be an ‘IT guy’. In my leadership roles I have learnt and experienced the frustrations of the IT world in great detail. I don’t know my servers from my switches and I know how tricky it is communicating with IT staff. IT staff do an amazing job but, for most teachers and students, ‘IT’ is truly like another language. Conversely, for most IT staff, the language of ‘teaching and learning’ is a bit the same. This causes tension for teachers, students and IT staff alike.

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If I don’t laugh at these I’ll cry!

But here is the thing…

Although I constantly make my passion statement and I mean it sincerely, technology can enable us to transform and enhance teaching and learning. If you read Joel’s blog post you will see what I mean. When a teacher unlocks the power of technology in (and out of) their classroom it is a beautiful thing. There is no denying it, that, I am passionate about in a big way.

So that puts me in this really weird position, I don’t love technology, but I (and I think all teachers) love what it can do for teachers and students. In fact, we don’t just love what technology can do, we NEED what it can do. Technology can give us time, and time is the most precious gift of all. Reading Joel’s post helped crystallise this for me.

I guess it’s like my car. I don’t love cars. I’m not really interested in the different types of cars or the specifics of what’s happening under the bonnet. But I love getting from A to B quickly and comfortably. I love what my car can do. No, I NEED what it can do.

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NB. Not actually me.

When it comes to technology, the most common statement I hear from teachers is ‘I don’t have time to use that’ or ‘I don’t have time to learn how to use that’. I totally agree and totally disagree at the same time. Let me explain.

Teachers don’t have enough time. This is probably the biggest understatement in education. Read Joel’s post about work-life balance for some great insight. Thanks to technology, the world is ever-changing and advancing. We can do amazing stuff that was only recently inconceivable. However, the increase in what is possible drives an increase in expectations which infiltrates every industry in the world. Schools are no exception. So how do we keep up? How do schools and teachers meet the ever increasing expectations of the modern world? There is only so much time in the day!

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We need to reframe our thinking. If time is the problem, technology is the answer. I think the situation for teachers is actually that ‘we don’t have time NOT to use new technology’. The demands and expectations of the modern world are not possible to meet without the use of technology.

This is where I think school leadership plays a critical role. School leaders must acknowledge the importance of technology and time in modern education and plan accordingly. I think school leaders need to do the following:

  • Ensure the school has a robust and effective IT infrastructure that can service all staff and students
  • Identify technology tools that can enhance teaching and learning
  • Resource the school with these technology tools
  • Allocate time and support for teachers to learn how to use these technology tools
  • Help overcome the communication barrier between IT staff and teachers and students

I think the schools out there who are doing this the best are the most successful in achieving positive learning outcomes for students.

If you’ve read this far, hopefully you’re thinking about the technology situation in your own school. Is it up to par?

If so, awesome 🙂

If not, then in more ways than one, I think it’s about time.

Where is your school at with this? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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