Doug Belshaw recently blogged about the difficulties schools can face introducing new technology.
One line in particular stood out that seemed to encapsulate our ethos towards helping schools integrate BrainPOP.
“Successfully implementing technology in your organization is…not a technology issue”
We’ve heard many horror stories about schools investing in edu technology and then struggling to get staff and pupils interested. The phrase “gathering dust in the store cupboard” has become an unfortunate truism.
Quality of technology and technical know how may have been an issue 10 years ago but it’s not quite the barrier it used to be. Nevertheless the range and type of digital product has exploded. Therefore building a strategy to connect users to tech is more vital than ever.
Online access might have removed the need for a store cupboard but the issues remain the same.
How do you get people to embrace new technology?
Doug lists the following (our comments in italics):
- “Solve other people’s problems” (specifically teachers problems)
- “Get other people to evangelise for you” (especially the sceptics)
- “Embrace constraints” (constraints will always exist so stop whingeing and use the difficulty to your advantage)
- “Have a strategy” (don’t set woolly goals, be specific about value and progress)
- “Turn on everything / default to open” (let the users drive the innovation as that’s where interesting events happen; be open and be bold)
- “BE UNRELENTINGLY POSITIVE” (he added a 6th on Twitter which we thoroughly agree with. But without the first 5 in place this will be the most difficult to keep up over time)
A large part of our responsibility regards what happens AFTER a school has subscribed. We take great care and attention over our customers’ experiences with BrainPOP. So we’d like to add a few of our own to Doug’s list.
Look outside your school gates for inspiration
If you have “edtech block” with a new product search for customer stories, tips, ideas & case studies. Most products have blogs, Twitter, YouTube etc these days. Granted, the way one school uses BrainPOP may not work in another but we have no doubt whatsoever that you can pan handle the gold of inspiration from even the driest case study. Twitter is insanely good for seeking impartial help and advice on different tools.
This is why we constantly share our customer stories.
Let kids be product champions too
Teachers need to support a product, of course. But if it’s embraced by pupils too then the very fact that they enjoy it will provide a boost to teacher adoption. If your class beg to to use a piece of tech, you’ll soon grow to love & value it too. See the awesome 100 Word Challenge as an example. The tech used to manage it is incidental.
There’s a grass roots movement growing at the moment called “Digital Leaders“. It empowers pupils to support & train the teachers on classroom technology. It can be terrifically motivational for students and staff. It’s a fantastic idea and one we’ll be exploring in more depth very soon.
Analyse the data
Sounds dull, but can be hugely enlightening and spotlight how a product is REALLY being used which will help you assess your investment.
We can provide subscription analytics for free to any customer that asks – number of log ins; average time spent on site per user; top 10 movies watched; busiest time of day; most used subject; browsers used, mobile stats and much more.
Set up polls, wikis or blog posts for your staff and students to offer up their opinions on new products 1 week, 1 term and 1 year after purchase.
The key to unlocking greater adoption and better use may just lie in the data.
Encourage in AND out of school access
This isn’t technically possible with all educational technology and sometimes costs a small fortune to “unlock” this privilege but if it’s at all possible expose your technology (and the output of the learning associated with it) to your parent community. If the parents react well to the software it can work magic with out of school engagement.
“School improvement and school effectiveness research consistently shows that parental engagement is one of the key factors in securing higher student achievement. Schools that improve and sustain improvement engage the community and build strong links with parents.”
Review of best practice in parental engagement, BECTA Research Report DFE-RR156)”
Blending BrainPOP into school + home life is something we take seriously and will be developing programs, support materials and initiatives to do just this.
Ultimately there’s no definitive way to encourage and support use of a new technology product (or any non-tech product for that matter!) but the key is not to stop just because you’ve got it working.
The hardest but most valuable part is yet to come!
Do you have any tips for encouraging people to engage with ed tech? Please leave your comments below.