Schools readiness for education technology

As with any technology, there are always early adopters, followed by users who implement the technology when it is already accepted, and finally late adopters, those who implement the technology after it is being widely used, says Bez Sangari, CEO Sangari SA the wholly-owned South African training company. 

There was a term introduced some years ago in the IT industry for suppliers who drop their equipment off at the customer and leave it to them to make it work called “box droppers”. This remains the case today. Suppliers drop the equipment at a school and leave it to the teachers to make it work, a recipe for failure.

Decisions on the type of ET equipment to be installed at a school are often made by a working group of stakeholders including the governing body, heads of departments, parents or teachers themselves.

But unless there is a clear strategy involving training, monitoring and ongoing support, with responsibility vested with specific teachers to ensure the success of the project, the risk of failure is high.

When implementing an educational system it is important to identify the stage that teachers are in the adoption cycle. Students are generally early adopters of technology, usually earlier than their teachers. The process of identifying where each teacher is in the adoption cycle can be termed their level of “warm-ware”.

The main determining factor in having a successful technology-based teaching system is the ability to identify teachers who are ready and enthusiastic to be involved in the implementation of new technology.

We believe it is the supplier’s responsibility to evaluate, monitor and train teachers to ensure success. If early-adopter teachers are properly trained, the chance of success is significantly improved. The mistake that many schools make is to follow other schools by cloning their ET programmes, such as implementing tablets, and replicate it in their school.

Experience shows that this does not always work. When an evaluation is done to determine the school’s needs, part of this is to identify the best solution for the school. Teachers who are suitable as early adopters should be involved in the selection process. The question is: Students are generally ready for new technology, but are teachers, departments and headmasters?

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