How To Introduce New Technology to a Staff

3/1/2008 By: Diane Coggins

from Educators' eZine

Introducing any new technology into a school can be problematic. The process described in this article, based on real-life experiences, will ensure the successful adoption and integration of a new technology tool - whatever it may be.

For our school, the time came to introduce a new tool, the interactive white board. So I designed a plan to purchase the board and then provide support for its successful integration into instruction.

Phase I: The Interest Level
There were enough funds in the technology budget to order one interactive whiteboard and have it installed in the computer lab. The point of purchasing just one was to determine the interest of the staff. The next step was to provide workshops for the staff and to provide time for practice using the board. As I gave the workshops by grade level, I demonstrated how to teach lessons integrating the Standards of Learning for each grade level, K-5. Support staff for those grade levels also attended (e.g. reading, math, ESOL, special education, music, and PE). I then demonstrated lessons for teachers by teaching a skill with a class while encouraging the teacher to take over. This went well. Soon teachers were trying it on their own.

Phase II: Additional Boards with Portability for Sharing
Since many teachers were now interested in using the interactive white board, I approached the PTA about a grant to buy a portable board to use in classrooms. They agreed, and now we had twice as many whiteboards and a doubling of user level.

A grant proposal jointly written with the fourth- and fifth-grade teachers the following year got us funding for two smaller portable interactive white boards for classrooms to share. The year before, 13 staff members participated in a local grant, and we received seven LCD projectors for our school. This worked out well since an LCD projector is needed for every interactive white board purchased and thus provided a substantial savings.

Phase III: Placing the Boards for Easy Access
We placed the boards in three classrooms with LCD projectors – one for each grade level three through five. Other teachers could sign up to have the portable board moved to their rooms along with an LCD projector available for daily checkout. This allowed teachers at each grade level to have easy access. Eventually some of the boards became permanently mounted in classrooms and we purchased additional portable boards. The current goal is to eventually have mounted boards in every classroom from grades three through five with portable boards to share for each grade level, K through two.

Phase IV: Continued Training
We gave Mini-workshops throughout the year to demonstrate new uses and provide practice time. I kept up my expertise by taking training in the summer. We scheduled a professional trainer for an onsite afternoon workshop with teachers to demonstrate the newest software version. Each teacher got detailed directions with illustrations on how to set up the board, and after a little practice, many felt comfortable setting up the board. Some have trained their students to do it in order to save time in the classroom. In addition, when I demonstrate a lesson, I model using the interactive white board whenever possible for teachers and students.

Phase V: Outside the Classroom
Supporting the use of the board outside the classroom has led to the following.

  • We always give technology presentations at PTA meetings. This year, teachers are going to demonstrate lessons to the PTA using the interactive white board.
  • We used the boards for presentations at staff meetings.
  • We held mini-workshops throughout the year.
  • We encourage both administors and students to use the board for presentations.
  • Support staff (reading, special education, math) used the board in lessons.
  • We loaded software on the computers of teachers who will create lessons using the board.
  • We made available Standards of Learning-connected lessons and tutorials on websites.

Summary: The Five Phases

  1. For any new technology, test the water for interest in its use before making multiple purchases.
  2. Purchase more boards with portability for teachers to share.
  3. Make boards easily accessible.
  4. Continue training to bring new ideas into the mix.
  5. Encourage use outside the classroom to draw others in to use the interactive white board.

The process may seem slow, but now, after two years, we have four interactive white boards in the school that are used regularly. The PTA has planned fundraisers to support future purchases since it is a major initiative in our technology plan. Since interest is high, more will be purchased this year for classrooms. Providing training simultaneously as the boards are purchased has promoted the use of the interactive white board so that it has become a tech tool used by teachers every day—not a giant door stop gathering dust! It is an exciting time at my school with this new technology addition for teachers and students.

Email: Diane Coggins

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