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Technology Doesn’t Have to be Scary Pt. 2

Dr. Hope Dugan, February 27, 2019

Technology Doesn’t Have to be Scary – Supporting your teachers through technology adoption (Technology Fatigue)

Part two in two-part series on leading technology adoption

What exactly is technology fatigue?

Technology Doesn’t Have to be Scary – Supporting your teachers through technology adoption (Technology Fatigue)

Part two in two-part series on leading technology adoption

What exactly is technology fatigue?

  • This year the district decided we were going to use Canvas…Last year we were told we had to use Moodle…The previous year we were told we had to use Blackboard…The previous year we were told to use Edmodo….

  • Meanwhile, your principal announced everyone had to create their own webpage, AND learn the new PD system, AND make sure all student work is run through Turnitin….AND utilize 3 social media platforms…

When too many things are introduced at one time OR when not enough time is given to learn how to use the new tool OR every year you leave behind the one app you finally learned to use because the district decided to use something else…That, my friends, is technology fatigue…

When you receive less than enthusiastic support upon introducing a new technology initiative, technology fatigue may play a role in your team’s reaction. This year’s shift to a new LMS may not seem that big a deal, but when you consider what other technology shifts may also be occurring simultaneously (new student information system, new attendance program, new statewide mandates…) or how often they have been asked to learn a new system (3 years, 3 new LMSs…) you begin to understand their frustration and fatigue. It takes a great deal of energy to learn, unlearn, and relearn and to seamlessly integrate a new technology solution. Understanding how much effort a shift requires and honoring teachers for their willingness to make the shift is very important. If you suspect that your team is suffering from technology fatigue, there are several things you can do:

  • Stay the course – Ensure that you are not a magpie flitting from shiny new thing to shiny new thing. Select a tool/LMS/program and guarantee that it will be around for a minimum of 3 years. If you don’t feel confident in supporting your selection for three years, you may want to reconsider why you are changing to it to begin with.

  • Provide options, where appropriate – Is it absolutely necessary that the entire staff all use the same tool? Students like to be given opportunities for choice and so do our adults. Providing teachers with several options may make the shift more palatable. Especially if some of the staff are already comfortable with a tool. If providing options is not possible, explain the vision for the shift and why the selection will be the best opportunity.

  • Loose and tight – While there may be some things that must be adopted (like new student information and grading systems) there may be other items, like classroom tools, that can be optional. Provide clarity on what teachers will be held accountable for doing (Every day you will take attendance in the automated system) and where there may be room for options (You may select to use one of the following: Smartboard or Promethean; Class Dojo or G suite tool).

  • Respond with empathy – If the decision was made at the district or state levels, let your staff know. Also ensure your team that you will be there to support them and that you understand their frustration.

  • Invitational Learning – In education we are a big fan of a pilot. When considering a large-scale initiative, enlist those on your staff who are excited and ready to try something new. A tech director I once worked for used to say she would gather an army of the willing and she did so through invitational learning opportunities. This was her way of starting a pilot with the people who were ready for the change.

  • WAIT – If the decision is in your hands, understanding your staff’s capacity for change is important. Maybe this is not the year to try a large-scale shift.

When attempting to shift an entire district or school to a new technology, it may feel next to impossible. Understanding that fear is a natural response to change and additionally, many educators are simply fatigued by the amount of change foisted upon them may help you understand negative reactions. Remind yourself why the change is necessary and understand how it will have positive impact on students. This will help you keep going even when you feel alone in the process.

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