Behind every successful adult there is a great teacher – probably quite a few. Ask any adult about their favorite teacher and you’ll hear stories, heartfelt and rich in detail. Great teachers share a lot in common with great students. They have insatiable curiosity, a willingness to go above and beyond, and are passionate about learning.
When it comes to implementing new educational technology, however, even the best teachers and administrators can be a skeptical and hard-to-reach crowd. Not because they don’t want to believe or are resistant to new ideas— but because they are time-short and they have been burned by products and promises that never delivered. While the biggest barrier to technology in the classroom is often the teacher, these educators are also the most influential and important early adopters.
As the developer of a collaborative learning platform used by more than 30,000 schools and districts, we work with educators around the world at Schoology. And when it comes to technology adoption on the front lines, we hear valid questions and reasonable doubts from teachers and administrators on a daily basis.
As educators explore new technologies and ed-tech providers search for ways to improve the teaching process, these questions must be addressed— some of the most common hurdles stemming from time, scale and support issues:
- Time-to-deploy and maintain: Will this create more work for me? How much time will I need to keep it up-and-running? Educators are seeking products that they can manage with ease and don’t require endless amounts of time to maintain. They want to be up-and-running in minutes with a user experience that is fun and intuitive—just like the popular social networking sites, applications and games that teachers and students already enjoy.
- Scale and security concerns: Who else is using it? I don’t want to be tied to my laptop—can I log-in from anywhere? Is it secure? From the instructor’s perspective, the system must be secure and comprehensive in its offerings. Teachers must be able to access the technology anytime and from any type of device, to see immediate return and to win respect from their students.
- Support: Will it be around in a year? How long is work stored? What if the site crashes? Educators want to know that their investments in technology will pay-off and stand the test of time. As ed-tech providers, it’s important to make sure we are reliable, accessible and always listening to our user communities to improve our products and solutions.
In addition to facing these concerns head-on, we must consider the data integration and data standardization issues that school districts face with the deployment of new technologies. As districts collect increasing amounts of information on their students, from attendance records to test scores, they are seeking new ways to store, analyze and view this data to improve the academic performance of students and help teachers improve their processes.
By supporting initiatives like the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC), and encouraging ed-tech providers to open their APIs, we can help ease the data-related pains that schools face, fostering cross-platform integration that encourages rapid innovation and content sharing that benefits students and teachers.
For the next-generation teacher and K-12 students today, technology is everywhere, and its role in the learning lives of students will continue to explode in 2013. I believe teacher acceptance is the gateway to technology adoption in the classroom— and we need to see more technologies that look to empower the role of the educator, by breaking down classroom walls to become part of the daily workflow of how they engage with students and drive efficiencies at every level.
At Schoology, our goal is to help educators inside the classroom and outside of the classroom to Teach Better Today. We strive to provide a platform that can help track and improve student outcomes, manage the classroom with ease, and get everybody who is involved in a student’s education on the same page. Over the past year we have grown tremendously, serving nearly 2 million users across the world, and adding hundreds of thousands of new users each month.