EdTech can bring change in the education space by addressing a variety of challenges but the misuse of it can be turbulent to learning.
Teachers’ professional learning is one way to support the increasingly complex skills students need to learn in preparation for further education and work in 21st Century. With regards to this, sophisticated forms of teaching are required to develop student competencies such as deep mastery of challenging content, critical thinking, complex problem solving, effective communication and collaboration, and self-direction.
It can also help teachers learn and refine pedagogies required to teach 21’st century skills and most importantly even for the success of edtech. Yes, the success of any technology is a lot dependent on how well the users know on the usability component of the product. It is only through stronger professional development that teachers manage to gather excitement about using technology in their classroom. Till the moment teachers are confident about using technology in pedagogy, they do not make optimum usage of the tool and that’s how the potential of any edtech tool remains untapped.
The fact of the matter is that, potential for edtech can only be realized if teachers embrace it and know when and how to use it to make learning active for the students. It’s a common concern among instructional technologists that bringing tools into the classroom doesn’t necessarily mean that teachers are leveraging them to develop students’ 21st century skills. Meaningful change as experts insist comes only from long term professional development that models the type of learning that schools expect of their students. It is only technology and teacher who can together revamp educational institutions.
Coming to another larger issue, which is making things even worse is that, globally, schools and colleges are facing a critical teacher shortage and the situation would further aggravate in the next few years, if it is not rightly handled now. There is not a shortage of qualified candidates but the problem is there is a shortage of qualified instructors who have crippling effect on a school’s ability to implement technology effectively. The demand for qualified teachers is thus increasing day by day and it owes to rigorous performance standards and a push to reduce class sizes in many schools.
Challenges Worsening Due to Lack of Adequate Teachers PD
As per a report, there has been a fall in the rate of fresh graduates enrolling for teacher preparation programs in Michigan. One of the reasons mentioned for such is a lack in vocational & teachers training programmes as well as one that covers career and technical education for teachers along with other mentioned reasons for such, like- cost of teacher attrition, principals’ roles in recruiting and retaining teachers.
Obviously, such drop in the level of enrolment for teacher programs has a direct bearing on how schools could fill in the gap of recruiting qualified teachers who can make right use of edtech and train the students to become future ready.
Greater Concern of EdTech Stakeholders
For the edtech companies it is a matter of great concern as they wish to take forward education to the next level with the help of their solution but are unable to do it for their solution remains untapped. When schools and colleges do not use any technology effectively, it ultimately reflects on the solution provider. Hence, the way out to tackle challenge of qualified teacher shortage and effective use of edtech solution provider is to bring together edtech providers and school districts to have their own parts to play. Edtech providers can solve this crisis by taking into consideration the three things mentioned below-
1. Make Training and Support Widely Available
There is a lack in the availability of competitive teachers’ professional training and also who so ever are involved in this area are mostly focussing on providing content based training, leaving behind practical training on how to make best use of various edtech tools. Thus, Edtech companies can post video tutorials and other supporting materials to help teachers who are unfamiliar with using their products. Such will help all teachers to integrate technology more effectively.
2. Volunteer in Local Schools
Edtech companies can also offer employee expertise to local school systems, particularly if they are struggling to hire and retain teachers in subjects where the staff might experience. They can also set up a volunteer program in which staff helps out at local schools for an hour or two per week. They can also start working with new or substitute teachers to help them design lessons that take advantage of technology.
3. Include Substitute Teachers in EdTech Professional Development
While the teacher is undergoing a training session, if the edtech company has qualified teachers to fill the vacant position of the teacher, this will actually help the school stand at a better position. It will help the school to integrate technology into instruction from day one and also move on with the decision to extend time for in-depth edtech based teachers’ professional training.
If teachers are leaving the profession or are not making complete use of technology, it is because they are under extreme pressure to adopt new teaching methodologies, are not getting enough support from the school systems, and do not have adequate professional training facility.
Shortage of qualified teachers affects students learning and the ability to make best use of technology. Dr. MaryFriend Shephard of Richard W. Riley College rightly says, “The key to integrate technology successfully is to convince teachers that they can do something with it that they can’t do without it.” Let teachers enjoy their profession, feel confident in trying out innovative and new teaching practices and also help edtech companies to create an impact in the learning space with their product.
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