5 ways to get your teachers more excited about using ed-tech

It's not as simple as buying new instructional technology tools and installing them on their computers.

If you’re like most K-12 leaders, it’s a given that you will be encouraging your teachers to incorporate more ed-tech in the coming school years, whether students are in-person or online. But as some CIOs and administrators have learned, it’s not as simple as buying new instructional technology tools and installing them on your teachers’ devices.

One issue may be that principals, superintendents and CIOs are more excited about the ed-tech they’ve purchased than teachers are. For example, administrators are more certain about the quality and quantity of their instructional materials, according to a survey by Clever, an ed-tech platform provider. Some 85% of administrators, compared to 68% of teachers, said their schools had high-quality digital tools.

Here’s another disconnect: A large majority of district leaders feel teachers are regularly involved in choosing ed-tech, but fewer than two-thirds of those teachers agree their input plays a role. About half of the administrators surveyed thought their teachers spent less than an hour per week searching for new digital resources, but a quarter of high school teachers reported spending three or more hours looking for ed-tech tools, according to the survey of 1,500 administrators and educators, which was conducted at the end of 2021.

“We have to remember the importance of letting teachers teach,” said Erick Buenrostro, a digital resource and content specialist at Ysleta ISD, told Clever. “They shouldn’t spend time troubleshooting or learning advanced IT specialist skills. When we include the right people in discussions about purchasing tools, the technology can become so seamless that teachers can focus on the content itself.”

An encouraging figure is this: 91%. That’s the percentage of teachers who say their comfort with ed-tech has risen during the last two years, according to an annual technology in schools report by the ed-tech provider Promethean. Less encouraging is a professional development gap: Teachers who don’t use ed-tech told Promethean that they hadn’t been given enough time to learn how to maximize new ed-tech tools.

The same report found that administrators are far more likely than teachers to say their districts spend enough money on professional development.

More from DA: How the Great Resignation is giving ed-tech a talent boost

Outdated technology appears to be another challenge. After the COVID shift online, teachers now expect access to more advanced ed-tech. In fact, a majority of administrators say they have lost teachers to other districts that offer a more “cutting edge technology experience,” according to an analysis by UKG, the human resources firm.

The issue extends beyond teachers. Central office staff also reported having to use aging technology to perform tasks such as managing substitute teachers. Staffers said it’s having an impact on student success and blamed the problem on insufficient funding and a lack of vision among administrators. A lack of unified data systems also complicates grant-reporting processes, UKG found.

Rallying around ed-tech

FETC 2023

The Future of Education Technology® Conference takes place live and in person Jan. 23-26, 2023, in New Orleans. Register now!

Here are some steps superintendents, principals and other administrators can take to get teachers more excited about ed-tech:

  1. Collaborate with teachers. Teachers involved in ed-tech purchasing decisions are more likely to say their district has a sufficient number of high-quality tools, the Clever found.
  2. Encourage teachers to collaborate with teachers. When asked about their most trusted source of new tools, nearly half of teachers named their fellow teachers. Only 18% cited school or district leaders in Clever’s survey.
  3. Find common ground. Teachers and administrators can collaborate more effectively. Both agree that allowing students to move at their own pace and collecting data to track progress are among the best uses of ed-tech.
  4. Reprioritize PD. With data showing disconnects between administrators and teachers on professional development, districts should reassess what types of training they’re providing and the resources dedicated to them.
  5. Make routine tasks easier. Staffers in many districts want tools that automate employee onboarding, time-off requests, benefits administration, tracking COVID vaccination status and other routine processes.
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

Most Popular