5 Strategies for Encouraging Technology Use in Schools
Using an LMS in a large school or district can be challenging. It is always tough to get buy-in from all of the teachers, teach staff how to use the LMS, and make sure it is actually being used in the classroom.
The benefits of using an LMS are numerous. It encourages collaboration between teachers, students, and parents. Teachers can share data and assignments. Students can share projects and have one central location for turning in work, and parents can stay knowledgeable about what their student is working on in class. While these are just some of the benefits, teachers might be hesitant to use new technology when what they are already using gets the job done.
It can also be very frustrating for teachers to learn a new LMS with the workload they manage on a day-to-day basis. It’s very important for teachers to feel comfortable using new technology. If they are using it confidently, then students will also use it more confidently. Getting to that confident phase can be challenging, so let’s look at five strategies to help implement technology use in schools, specifically using an LMS in a large school or district.
Strategy #1: Have a Lead Technology Teacher in Each Department or Grade Level
This is the a top priority for large schools. Of course, there are technology directors that are hired to take care of the LMS overall and make sure that everything is running smoothly, but they are not always as accessible as teachers need them to be. Training teachers to use an LMS can and should be done, but what happens when a teacher has a question about how to post an assignment or share a video for that day? A lead technology teacher or Instructional Technologist in each department or grade level is usually right down the hall from the teacher with a technology question, so the issue can be resolved quickly.
The lead technology teacher should work closely with the Technology Directors to answer questions that teachers have about the LMS. They could also create or be available for training sessions that work with the schedules of teachers within their department or grade level.
The lead technology teacher also has a good working relationship with other teachers. If someone thinks their question is silly, or they are afraid or nervous to ask their question, the lead technology teacher has built a good relationship with others so it’s not intimidating to ask questions of them.
Strategy #2: Use LMS to Model Uses of LMS for Teachers
Another great strategy for helping teachers to become comfortable with your LMS is to have them use it for professional development (PD). This would be useful for all teachers, but especially new staff members and those who are hesitant to change. Calendar alerts could be utilized to share upcoming events. A school “class” could be created to share important tutorials and information.
It would even be a good idea to have part of the PD time spent utilizing the LMS. These could be small lessons or activities that teachers create using the LMS. Example activities using the LMS might include:
Creating a quiz- Think about the different quiz question options and give teachers a chance to practice creating a quiz. It could even be a quiz that they might use in their classes or something for other teachers to take and see what a quiz looks like for students
Creating a rubric and grading a small piece of writing- Teachers could create a writing assignment with a rubric and practice making the rubric, then they could post on each other’s assignments and practice grading those writing samples using their rubric.
- Creating and uploading a video- This would come in very handy for elearning days when teachers need to create an instructional piece for the day’s lesson.
- Creating a module or unit- Add assignments with due dates to share with classes or save for future use
- Creating discussion boards- Have teachers create a discussion thread that they share and practice using among themselves.
- Creating an assignment and grading it- Teachers practice creating an assignment and providing feedback to explore the different options.
Imagine spending PD or tech training days where teachers are working together to figure out how to use your LMS to its fullest potential. They would be able to not only create work for their classes, but also know what it looks like from a student perspective so they can help students navigate the LMS.
Strategy #3: Show Teachers How The LMS Improves Grading Time & Efficient Feedback
Teachers are always busy. As an English teacher, there is the traveling stack of essays that manages to make its way to and from school for about a week before the grading is done and returned to students. My red ink blots their papers with my comments and corrections. Some days it is the endless heap of tests that are mostly multiple choice questions with some short answer questions thrown in. They also clutter my teacher bag for several days until I manage to get them graded.
By using an LMS, though, the amount of paper consumed and time spent grading are cut significantly. According to Gaggle, using an LMS saves $25,000 in paper costs and saves 1,194 hours of classroom time not passing out and collecting papers.
That stack of travelling essays is now on my computer where I can access them from home or school. I can type in my comments, highlight and underline, and give feedback using the digital rubric I created which automatically syncs to my gradebook. That heap of tests no longer has to be graded using scantron or by my own two hands.
I create the quiz using the LMS which automatically grades everything, except essay questions, and syncs it to my gradebook. Pop quizzes are easily given and graded. Students receive immediate feedback on their grade and which questions they missed.
In my classroom, this has even prompted students to ask more questions about why they get questions incorrect which leads to a better understanding of the material. Showing teachers how efficiently your LMS works in real time will help convince them to jump on board and start using it.
Strategy #4: Use Gamification To Make PD More Fun
We all love a little competition, so why not turn PD into some friendly games? These games can be created by department, grade level, or building. Maybe create a quiz for teachers to take over the day’s PD topic and see not only who scores best but also the fastest. Create LMS-oriented tasks and see which department or grade level can get them done accurately and quickly. Create a scavenger hunt where teachers have to find important information around the school, create a video montage with footage, and submit it to your LMS.
This would also be a great way to involve parents and students while also teaching them how to use and access the LMS. Create a list of tasks to be completed by parents and students using the LMS and see which building has the highest percentage of accuracy and completion. You could even create leaderboards, user profiles, and digital badges. What a fun and creative way to get everyone using the LMS!
Strategy #5: Using Incentives To Motivate Teachers
Closely tied to the previous strategy is giving incentives for PD. It might include school swag, PD points, or some public recognition in a school newsletter. Imagine if teachers knew who was good at different aspects of the LMS by using digital badges or even real badges for teachers to post outside their classrooms.
A teacher could be a Quiz Whiz for being great at creating and managing quizzes. There could be a Parent Pro who is an expert in teaching parents how to use the LMS. There might even be a Rubric Guru who is very efficient at creating and utilizing rubrics. The list could go on and on. This would be a great way to celebrate teachers and their accomplishments.
Do you have other ideas for encouraging technology use in schools? Share your strategies with us on Twitter @Schoology