7 Mistakes I Made As An Ed Tech Co-Ordinator #2: Research
Part 1: heavy-handed or what?
“Excuse me, but would you mind sitting still while I bash you over the head with this rolled up paper containing my latest research findings?”
I didn’t really say that of course, but I might just as well have. In my eagerness to get other teachers using the computing facilities, I collated loads of research showing how much the use of education technology helped kids learn, in any subject. Fair enough, but then I distributed a copy to everyone’s pigeon-hole, and even announced it in a staff meeting.
As a deputy headteacher said to me, half jokingly (but only half): “Yes, Terry, we get it, we’re fully on board, we’re convinced!” The sub-text was, indubitably, “And now can you please leave us alone?!”
Did the distribution of those research findings convince anyone to use the computing facilities? I doubt it. At least, nobody said to me: “Hey, Terry, I loved that document you shoved down my throat. Where do I sign up?”
Part 2: softly softly does it
After that, and this is what I’d recommend, I used a much more subtle approach.
I think collating those research findings were definitely useful — for me. As an ed tech or ICT co-ordinator, you have to be on top of your subject. You have to be able to say to the headteacher, when she is thinking of reducing the spend on computers and laptops, “Did you know that the research shows…?”
(If she has just read some report in the newspaper about how useless ed tech is, you need to know how to defend yourself. See the slideshare at the end of this article.)
You need to be ready to reply to a teacher who says: “Do you think ed tech would help the kids learn in [insert subject here]?”, “Yes, because the research shows….”
You need to be able to say to a teacher: “I came across an interesting article that says using [insert ed tech product] in Geography leads to a better grasp of rift valley formation. I’d appreciate your opinion about whether it’s likely or just a load of hooey.” (I found using that approach, by the way, infinitely more successful than any other because you’re not trying to look like you’re an expert in everything. More often than not, the teacher would look at it, and then want to try out the idea for himself.)
Perhaps even more important, you have to be convinced yourself of the efficacy of ed tech. And what better way to achieve that than by keeping abreast of all the latest research?
Part 3: defence mechanism
How do you keep up with all the research in ed tech. Well, I know I would say this, but my newsletter, Digital Education, is a good place to start. I always try to include some information about recent research in each edition.
It’s an open secret that newspapers (at least in the UK) tend to be really bad at reporting education research accurately. How can you tell if a report is, in effect, fake news? How can you make sure you know the facts just in case your headteacher has decided that spending any more money on ed tech is throwing good money after bad?
I gave a talk on this recently. In case they’re of any use, here are the slides from it: