Sunday, August 5, 2012

Module 5: Implementing New Technology

During my last two years in the classroom, I was the Educational Technology Mentor at my school.  Mesa Public Schools used the Ed Tech Mentor program as a way to provide onsite support for teachers.  Through one of the district initiatives, technology packages were sent to Title I schools that included of wireless slates, clickers, document cameras, and projectors.  One of my roles was to assist teachers in implementing the new technology into the classrooms.  The wireless slate was a piece of equipment I was particularly excited about.  It gave me mobility during my instruction and use proximity as a classroom management tool.  Students also loved having the opportunity to use the wireless slate during instruction.  The only drawback is that there is a learning curve in implementing the wireless slate into the classroom.  Learning how to use the wireless slate takes a certain amount of hand-eye coordination and most importantly – practice.  I would always use the wireless slate while presenting at staff meetings, I would demonstrate using wireless slates in the classroom, and I would provide one-on-one assistance to teachers.  Despite my efforts, most of the wireless slates can be found in their original boxes, untouched, lying on shelves.  Teachers expressed an interest in using this technology, so why did they fail to be fully implemented into the school?

The answer is that the wireless slate failed to meet Keller’s four conditions for motivation: attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction (Driscoll, 2005).  While teachers’ attention was initially captured during presentations, their attention in using the wireless slate was not sustained. Teachers did not find enough relevance in the use of the wireless slate.  Their current practices of instruction worked for them.  They also lacked the confidence to be able to successfully implement the wireless slate and feared that if they tried to use it that it could hinder instruction.  The blocks that the teachers had became insurmountable hurdles that have kept the wireless slate from being used. 

Despite the initial failure of the wireless slates, I believe a different approach may lead to them becoming successfully implemented into the school.  Teachers are in need of a different model of professional development when it comes to integrating technology into the classroom.  In addition to have a site based educational technology mentor, teachers need to have access to further support. Generation YES (Youth and Educators Succeeding) have developed a professional development model that is easy to implement, affordable, is effective and raises students’ self-esteem and confidence.  The model that they have developed consists of a team of students playing the role of technology experts.  Today’s student has more confidence in using and experimenting with technology than the average teacher.  Allowing students to share their knowledge and experience, with teachers gives students an important role to play and builds’ their confidence and self esteem.  Teachers sometimes feel more comfortable receiving a student’s assistance in experimenting with technology than a fellow colleague.  They do not feel as embarrassed if they struggle and stumble during the initial learning curve.  Having a student work with a teacher in learning how to use a wireless slate will lead to the teacher having more confidence.  Through the experimentation process, teachers will be able to see the relevance of using the wireless slate.  Teachers’ attention will be sustained as they see students enjoy using and demonstrating how to use the wireless slate in the classroom.  Utilizing this model of student experts to assist with technology implementation, will result in both teachers and students being more successful and satisfied. 

SMHS GenYes Rocks! from Debbie Kovesdy on Vimeo.


  1. Laura,

    I have never heard of a wireless slate. They sound like something that would be a big hit with teachers and students in the classroom. I am always in disbelief when instructional tools are purchased to help improve instuction but are not used in the classroom.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Excellant information, Laura. You mentioned Generation Yes when we were working on the group project, but didn't say a whole lot about it. I appreciate you sharing more about it. The video is pretty awesome and the whole idea makes a lot of sense.

      The only possible downside I see is the few teachers that I've run into who wouldn't take advice from a student if it would save their lives. Most teachers, though, would probably welcome this with open arms.

      I probably shouldn't admit this, but, even teaching computer science, I often find myself learning new things from students. Of course, I tell them that I already knew that; I was just testing them. :-) Truth is, though, and I tell them this, is that a person cannot possible know every thing that there is to know about technology. I've been practicing connectivism all along and didn't even realize it!

  2. Great post, Laura! I would love it if my school purchased wireless slates. I think it's all about having, or creating, the right mind-set for accepting new technology. Some teachers in my school will not try anything new because they are so afraid, or don't know how to fit the technology into their lessons. I am not totally sure all teachers feel so comfortable receiving help from students though. I think more than a few of them would find it embarrassing, don't you?

    1. Julie,
      I really like the idea of wireless slate! I can also identify with being reluctant about trying out new technology in my classroom. However, by enrolling in this program I have come out of my comfort zone and I plan to start small by blogging with my students. As for students helping with technology, I find it inviting when I can learn from them. This is the age of technology and our students are entering our classrooms with a wealth of knowledge about using technology.