During President Obama’s presidency, an initiative called ConnectEd was announced with the goal of increasing technology and internet access in public schools nationwide. It also intended to increase teachers’ skills in using education technology tools to improve student learning and encourage the private sector to develop educational devices and digital content. There was and still is a clear need to focus on this area of education and growing support in the White House to fulfill this initiative. Our changing political climate makes it unclear whether Obama’s initiative will still be a priority. However, even if it were to be realized, there would still be a desperate need to advocate for development and training on the effective utilization of these resources. In the meantime, educational leaders and educational technology specialists must seek ways to provide the support needed to prioritize technology integration in schools. Where do we begin? As a technology teacher-leader, how can I advocate for adequate professional learning support from administrators for technology-based learning initiatives?
We are always striving to seek change on the national level to help our education system grow and improve for the benefit of our children and this country. Those efforts must continue and should not be taken lightly. That being said, perhaps additional attempts can be made from the bottom up–more of a grassroots approach–to get administrators and other stakeholders involved in the professional development of technology integration at all levels. Engaging the stakeholders and community members outside of school buildings in the conversation can hold a lot of weight by creating more awareness and establishing educational technology as a priority in our schools. We in the education community need their support in order to get the word out to our administration.
Convincing community stakeholders to support educational technology can be challenging. Some are of the “I didn’t have it, and I turned out fine” mentality. And some who might be open to the idea are turned off by media coverage of existing edtech efforts, for good reason — consider a recent piece in The New York Times on a report that found that education technology is often used for lower-order thinking skills and knowledge acquisition (particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds) and that states are not collecting information on the return of edtech investments.
For this reason, we need to be very thoughtful about how we proceed with sharing the information. It often seems to be an uphill battle we are fighting when it comes to asking for technology support. One strategy for making changes is altering the language we use when communicating with stakeholders and advocating for technology integration. The decision-makers and community members alike want to hear specifically how technology can benefits students, but we must approach the topic using modified terminology. Typically, technology advocates in schools may come across as cold and impersonal, disconnected from the classroom environment, and they use too much jargon. They may talk about how to incorporate technology, but don’t focus enough on the actual benefits.
Rephrasing our key messages can have a greater impact. Here are some phrases to use:
Technology advocates would also be wise to make clear connections to the public’s beliefs on education, as well as the goals of our administration. For example, one common believe based on public opinion polling is that Education is a right. A potential message to support that belief is: It is our responsibility to give children not just a good education, but a great education that prepares them for 21st century careers. If a district’s mission is to provide equitable opportunities among its student population, then a potential message would be: Giving students adequate access to technology will help to level the playing field among disadvantaged students.
We have a long way to go in creating awareness and gaining support for technology initiatives at the administrative level, but one place we can start is by spreading the word and in doing so, modifying our language to truly illustrate the benefits of technology in education, and it turn making our professional development around this topic a major priority.
OBrien, A. (2013, June 20). How to build support for education technology. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/building-support-education-technology-anne-obrien
Rich, M. (2013, June 13). Study gauges value of technology in schools. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/education/study-gauges-value-of-technology-in-schools.html?smid=tw-share