Helping encourage technology in the classroom
We all know it’s essential that our kids are tech-savvy. They’re growing up in a world that’s ruled by technology, and that becomes truer with every passing day. Unfortunately, many schools don’t require the use of technology in classrooms. There are ways districts can encourage the use of more technologies, though those districts may also need encouragement from parents and community members.
The reason technology isn’t everywhere in today’s classrooms varies widely. Both the schools and the community need to come together to provide what’s needed and to encourage technology use in classrooms.
Many districts will tell you they don’t have technologies available to every student because they simply can’t afford it. Parents know how expensive it is to outfit just one or two students with all the tech devices they need -- imagine doing it for an entire student body.
Do what you can to ensure the district has the financial resources to provide technology in each classroom. Support levies that promise to provide technology and volunteer for their cause. Most of all, vote for those levies.
Fortunately, not all funding needs to come from tax payers. Search out loans and grants designed to help schools afford computers and other tech devices, and share your findings with your local school board. They may not seem motivated to find this info on their own, but they have a lot less room to say “no” when you’ve done all the leg work.
Remember, it’s not just a matter of funding a one-time computer purchase. The district has to fund continuous staff development, tech support, equipment repairs, upgrades and much more.
Teach the teachers
Not every teacher is fresh out of college and totally down with all of the newest tech toys. Their lack of tech knowledge (and embarrassment about it) may be the number one reason they don’t bring technology into the classrooms. Districts can offer seminars and lessons to teach teachers how to use classroom-appropriate technologies, both in large groups and one-on-one, to make sure teachers know what they need to know.
If a big work session with a professional instructor just isn’t in the budget, encourage the teachers to get together in smaller study groups where the tech-savvy teachers help out the ones who need it.
Unfortunately, most people can’t run these programs without issue after seeing them work just once. To make teachers truly comfortable using these technologies in the classroom, schools need to have an on-site IT person, or at least a knowledgeable member of staff who doesn’t mind stepping in to help from time to time.
Schools and parents can encourage students to put an end to paper communication. Teachers can communicate with parents through email, and even use text messages to send out reminders about permission slips or nightly homework updates.
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School districts may encourage this by setting up websites for parents to check grades and receive notes from teachers. If the teachers are taught and expected to use these technologies, others may start to come easier as well.
Most teachers are open to new tools. If you come across a technology -- be it a program, device or app -- that you think would come in handy in your child’s classroom, tell the teacher about it. Send her an email or bring it in yourself to show her what you think it can do and how the kids would use it.
It may not be that your child’s teacher isn’t open to new technologies -- she may not be aware of some newer devices and what they can do.
Are you a tech expert? Volunteer your time by teaching teachers how to be proficient in technologies they can use in the classrooms.