BREAKING DOWN DIGITAL CLASSROOM BARRIERS: 5 challenges every school faces when going digital, and how to overcome them.
Change is hard. We create routines and habits that naturally resist change. We shop at the same grocery store, buy the same brand of clothes, and eat the same meals. We can be especially hesitant to make changes in our instructional routines.
As we gaze over the ever-evolving educational landscape, we see that technology is settling in as an essential component for the modern learner. This shift can be terrifying, but it does not have to mean a total transformation.
You may be a teacher with a perfected curriculum and proven instructional practices. You may be an administrator whose system of assessment has yielded consistent results. Regardless of the role you play within your school, every faculty member’s goal is to ensure that each student meets their learning potential.
You CAN maintain the same effective techniques that have guided you throughout your career, while ushering in the newest technologies! Sound instructional practice, in tandem with effective technology integration, can create the optimal learning environment for your student.
Here are five barriers you may encounter when establishing a digital classroom, and how to overcome them:
The largest barrier you will face is also the least surprising. Incorporating technology into a classroom requires a significant investment. Ensuring that the school’s infrastructure is able to adequately manage hundreds of devices that will pull from its network is a daunting task. What’s more, in cases where the school is unable to fund the purchase, the cost placed upon families to acquire these devices is a top concern.
While this barrier appears discouraging, it is easily overcome with proper planning and counsel. Bring in a third-party adviser who will evaluate your current infrastructure. They will guide you through the planning process and propose a budget catered towards your goals. Once you have a plan in place, provide your parents with pricing, suppliers, and a time-table so that they have ample opportunity to financially adjust for this purchase. While you will inevitably receive pushback as a result of these changes, a well-constructed plan, purpose, and proposal will help to alleviate many of those concerns.
2) ILL-EQUIPPED STAFF
Implementing a digital classroom requires more than simply providing the necessary resources. Teachers must receive relevant, consistent training to fully utilize all that is available to them. For some teachers, the learning curve will be steep and the number of professional resources available to them can be overwhelming.
To help decrease the learning gradient, it is important to hone in on specific platforms you want all of your teachers to master. Consider a full-feature LMS to organize resources and encourage collaborative EdTech tool exploration. Seek out professional development to target the effective use of any newly-adopted tools. Provide these training opportunities at times and locations that are convenient for your faculty. Wondering where to start? You can learn about training opportunities in your area for a wide range of platforms by following this link to view a list of our upcoming #iTeachDigital seminars.
3) CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
As teachers introduce technology into their classroom for the first time, they have a common fear: that they will have to fundamentally alter their teaching style. They see the student’s device as a potential distraction rather than a means to expanded learning opportunities. They become bogged down with the notion that this new technology must be utilized at all times. Concerned with how they will now manage their classroom instead of teaching their students, the shift to a digital classroom can cause anxiety.
There are numerous new teaching techniques that help teachers manage a digital classroom and individualize the learning experience. The flipped classroom model, along with more project-based learning opportunities, have both proven effective at ensuring purposeful use of technology while increasing engagement. These techniques not only help utilize the new technology, but also uncover various learning speeds and styles of all your students.
Teachers work tirelessly to guarantee that they are not only fully versed in their upcoming lessons, but that they are presenting this material in a fresh and inspiring way. However, some teachers may feel intimidated by the presence of new technology. Students have the ability to now fact check every lesson, tune out on their devices, or pose overly complicated questions as the result of easily-accessed research. Teachers may feel as though they are underprepared and no longer in control.
Intimidation can quickly transform into empowerment by mastering a few key concepts. First, before you introduce a new technology into your classroom, make sure you feel confident that you can troubleshoot minor issues so that they do not throw off the rhythm and structure of your classroom. Next, develop lessons that require active participation. Instead of lecturing over a topic, allow opportunities for your students to research and ask questions. Resource students with the freedom to present their findings, with you guiding them towards the lesson’s objective. Finally, create opportunities for ambiguity. You do not need to be the answer for every question. By instilling within your students the desire to seek out answers for themselves, you will create a classroom of lifelong learners.
5) TIME CONSTRAINTS
The last thing any teacher wants to hear is, “If you have time…” No! You don’t have time! 12-hour work days, grading on the weekends; that’s the common schedule for any teacher. Technology can feel like one more spinning plate to balance. Yet, when used properly, technology can actually be a time-saver.
It all starts with a shift in your schedule. Digital classrooms rely heavily upon video-created content and activity-centric lessons. These lessons put the responsibility of learning in the student’s hands. Look for engaging videos that capture learning targets instead of giving that lecture yourself! Find an activity that turns concept into proof! Assign a quiz that automatically grades everything for you! By front-loading a schedule, teachers will find that dispersing the right videos and activities ahead of time frees them up to individually engage with their students during class.
We know that change is hard and that new technology can be intimidating. But, with a solid plan and a few well-timed adjustments, you can break the barriers that are holding your school back from implementing a digital classroom. With the right tools and the right attitude, technology can create a classroom full of engaged students and life-long learners.