Almost every week, I’m contacted by an educational institution that wants assistance in implementing a technology tool. In the majority of cases, these conversations have a similar pattern:
Client: “We want you to come to the school and show [insert audience here: teachers, students, admin] how to use [insert technology tool here].”
Me: “Sounds like you’ve invested in the idea of using [insert technology tool here] at your school. Can you tell me why?”
Client: “We looked at several different technologies and decided that [insert technology tool here] is the best solution.”
Me: “How are you doing things today without [insert technology tool here]?”
Client: “We are already committed to moving forward with [insert technology tool here] and just want someone to spend a few hours showing everyone how to use it. Some of us are already using it, but others need help getting started…”
As a technology integration specialist, this is a difficult position to face. Often, end users (teachers or students) aren’t even aware of the vision that administration has built. From an end user perspective, they are asked to change the way they do things and learn “something more” that gets in the way of their primary school tasks.
What is preventing everyone from adopting the new technology?
How are those already using the new technology succeeding? Is the tool addressing the original issues?
To implement a new technological tool or process at a school
There are several steps that will greatly increase the institution’s ability to succeed. Ideally, these steps are attended to by all stake holders in the process, not just administration:
- Document the current process, issue or problem that exists
- Name the positive and negative aspects of the current process, issue or problem
- Create a vision statement, that will guide the search for a solution
- Research solutions – document the reasoning behind each as well as pros and cons
- Identify the best solution and rewrite the vision statement to include it
- Compare the vision statement with the existing process:
- Does the solution address the underlying issue or problem?
- Does the solution alleviate any of the negative aspects of the current issue or problem?
- Does the solution detract from any of the existing positive aspects of the current issue or problem?
- Does the solution create any inadvertent positive or negative consequences?
- Document project steps and those responsible for each
- Secure time to provide adequate professional development on an ongoing basis
- Allow for check-in points to recognize successes and address any gaps in adoption
The above process does not guarantee success, but it does ensure that everyone moves towards a common goal and understands who is responsible for getting there. With clear documentation and a designated project manager, people are free to offer their expertise where applicable and share in the rewards of a high quality implementation.
Before embarking on any kind of technology investment (time or money):
The role of technology is to:
- address an identified problem, or
- make us more efficient or simplify an existing process.
And any technology implementation should be supported with ongoing professional development instruction and time to become effective.