Training Is EssentialProviding training to staff is in many ways almost more important than thetechnology itself. If a school spends their entire budget for technology to buy“stuff” but nothing on teaching and supporting the use of the “stuff” for the purpose it was intended, it is a huge waste. Training and support should be a top priority. In addition, training should be pervasive. Enough with this one or twodays a year business! How is a teacher going to “learn best practices” bywatching someone train
them for a few hours one day out of the year?Teachers should have ongoing training to work with the technology, experienceany growing pains, and learn what they need to be taught to make their classroomuse of the “stuff” better. Having a staff trainer on call is a great model. For onething, it takes away a lot of the pressures and demands that whole-staff trainingsessions can bring about. Educators can meet and work with the trainer(s) at their leisure and work on relevant uses of technology in their classrooms. This can befurther enhanced by a group of designated teachers who might meet once or twicea month to share their experiences and discuss ways that using the technology intheir class as a tool has enhanced the teaching experience.
Example – I was working at a school in 2004 and walked into myclassroom one day to find a large white board on wheels and a large cart that had a projector on it and a computer tucked away in the cabinet of the cart. I thought the technology fairy was bringing me a gift. But what was it? No one reallyknew. I had never seen a SmartBoard before and had no idea what an interactivewhiteboard could do or how/why I should use it. Later that day we used the board to take notes on, as if it were anyordinary white-erase board. The faculty played DVDs through the computer afterschool and projected them onto the “movie screen”. The only interaction theboard would know was being wheeled from one class to another. The cart wasused as any teacher might use a computer hooked up to a projector – to explain programs, surf the web with the class, and of course – watch videos. In my two years in the school after we received the SmartBoard it was rare that the board and the cart were even in the same room.The point should be clear – had the staff received some training on what an Interactive White Board could do for the classroom and how it can be used toimpact student learning, then it might have been a different story. At the veryleast we would have known how to set it up and could have had a fighting chanceof figuring out some of the usefulness on our own.