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Advice on getting staff to get behind technology

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by Pearce001, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. Pearce001

    Pearce001 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I will be starting a new post after Easter as Head of IT at a Secondary School. I have met with SLT and they have informed me that previous initiatives to implement the school VLE and other tech has not gone well with the current incumbent of the post.

    I have some ideas of what I would like to implement, based on the school development plan. However, as my first head of IT and computing role, I would like any advice on getting staff to get behind new technology. It would also be good to hear about any initiatives or tech you have implemented.

    Many thanks all,

  2. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    Are you talking about just your Dept or the whole school ?. If the latter, this is not really your responsibility. someone on the SMT should be in charge of implementing this of this. They get the pay and have the clout

    However if they are paying you and more importantly giving you the time then ...

    More helpfully. Staff will only use anything if you can show that it saves them time and effort.
    Two main pieces of advice - Set yourself realistic goals and lead by example.
    Target a specific task - homework is a good one. Put all of your depts HW activities on line; Encourage other depts to do the same.

    Look to take this further - Your VLE should be able to gather responses and send them to you - some will even do simple marking. Investigate how to do this
    If not, then most HW sheets in KS3 at least can easily be adapted to Google Forms which will send the answers back to a specific spreadsheet - a bit of conditional formatting and you have reduced your marking workload considerably

    When half of your depts are doing this come back and we'll move on to something else - See you in 2019
  3. Pearce001

    Pearce001 New commenter

    Thanks for you sage advice!
  4. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Well you could try to think like a proper manager and not like a tech evangelist.

    What are your real targets here?

    "Implementing a VLE" is not a target; it's a cost.

    Targets are about "what problems am I trying to solve?"

    What problems are you trying to solve? Does the technology chosen actually solve them?

    Because if you really are solving problems your teachers actually have, you won't have any problems getting staff to use your solutions.

    I strongly suspect you're not solving problems for them at all; you're just increasing their workload.
    Landofla, colpee and wanet like this.
  5. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Agree with above. If you regard it as introducing tech - it will fail. it is about the problem, possible solutions to it then choosing the best one. It concerns me that you have been appointed, but don't understand this.
  6. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Umm... he has said it's linked to the School Development Plan so I'd assume that they ARE identified needs? This forum is always so quick to judge.

    Generally speaking, getting a few keen beans to demonstrate what they can do with the technology is your best bet to getting people on board. If you get others to show them the benefits so they CHOOSE to use it then they're much more likely to embrace it than if they feel they're forced to do so. Softly softly catchy monkey.
    Landofla likes this.
  7. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    But there are many ways of solving needs, if this hasn't worked previously it possibly means that the proposed solutions don't solve the needs.
  8. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Much more likely that someone was desperate to put something into the Plan and thought 'VLE.. That's the latest thing, isn't it? Better put one of those in then.' Highly unlikely that it's meant to solve a specific identified problem.

    When it went in the Plan, implementing it was added to the objectives of some mug who taught ICT. So I imagine he or she implemented it.

    At this point it was probably unveiled to the rest of the teaching staff who were may even have been given basic courses on what it could do.

    And, as it couldn't actually do anything those teaching staff actually needed to have done, it's not been used.

    (At least the iPads that were probably bought under the same Plan will get some use entertaining the kids in the soft play (sorry, 'Return to Learning') area.)
  9. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    What can actually be done with a VLE in a normal school? (In a way that's actually more effective than, say, the school email system. Effective enough to actually be worth the effort?)

    IME, they're solutions looking for a problem.
    Flere-Imsaho and wanet like this.
  10. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    Spot on.

  11. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    But don't you feel that there a strong sense of Luddite martyrdom amongst a lot of staff. ?

    In this age of tracking and progress chasing they still seem to love spending hours analysing data, marking multiple choice quizzes, exams ; analysing exam scores - all by hand
    Not to mention hours spent cutting,and sticking then photocopying worksheets, sorting out lost homework sheets. etc etc .

    Unbelievably , on a recent secondary school visit I even saw a member of staff recording scores onto a spreadsheet then using a calculator to work out the averages. FGS !

    God forbid that they get off their ...... and learn some new skills

    I think people are right VLEs, whiteboards, IPADs and the rest are in the main a waste of space, time and money. But that does not mean that we should totally disregard all forms of technological assistance and allow our colleagues the luxury of having this as an excuse to continue to wallow in their personal dark ages.

    Thank god I've left and yes my new quill cutting and chalk sharpening business is doing great ... thanks for asking
    dljames2013 likes this.
  12. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    Be careful: New IT teacher pushes technology, selected by the management, at non-receptive teachers - a recipe for disaster and guess who gets the blame for the failure!
  13. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Couldn't agree more. applies to management and admin staff as well as teachers. Often the way in which technology is used creates rather than reduces work. There is the potential for schools to save effort and money if they used technology properly.
  14. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Staff will support anything useful and easy.
    They will strenuously object to and ignore anything time-consuming, complicated and lacking a clear purpose.
  15. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    The original poster hasn't actually said (s)he's hoping to implement a VLE. He/She said that previous technology ideas (eg: a VLE) have not gone down well. You don't even know what the new technology is that (s)he's hoping to implement, yet you have dismissed it automatically. You're exactly the sort of person (s)he's going to have to deal with who dig their heels in without even listening/reading what it is that's been offered.
  16. sparklemotion

    sparklemotion New commenter

    I tried to do this 5 years ago with Frog. It was a disaster to be honest... The issue is VLE's aren't for every subject. Resources such as VLE's should be a complementary resource. Why would departments want to use a VLE when they've tried and tested methods for running their departments?

    My advice would be not to force it on people, but to show how it can support some aspects of a departments curriculum. The thing is now though, we've things like Showbie and Google Classroom which are much easier for non-specialists to use and set up than even good VLE's like moodle.

    It might also be worth mentioning to SLT that it's not 2008 anymore and there's no need to have the forcing of VLE's onto all staff on the SIP.
    wanet likes this.
  17. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    Like all of these initiatives, whatever you do will fail. This is because the training you provide when introducing New Product X will only last for 6 months. Then there won't be a budget for training new teachers who arrive each subsequent year, any other new arrivals, retraining existing teachers who didn't get it first time round or who made slow progress and developing new skills with those who are super-keen. It will therefore stutter, fizzle out and die the death of a thousand cuts. I've seen this happen with every single new technological initiative since qualifying.
  18. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    You're right. I don't know what technology he/she intends to implement. The OP hasn't told us.

    Nor have they told us what actual problem this technology is expected to solve. I've speculated, based on my limited years within education, that the 'problem' is extremely loosely (if at all) defined.

    Teachers of Computer Science should be well aware that technology thrown at problems that are not defined generally fails. Budgets are blown and projects are ultimately scrapped without gain.

    How would we mark coursework or an exam where a student had decided they would implement a technology without having first defined the problem it solves and how and why that technology will actually solve it?

    It's unlikely he/she will have to deal with me or anyone like me. Most likely he/she will be able to implement the technology; staff will simply not use it ( because it doesn't actually solve any problems for them ) and then he/she will move on to another job just like the previous HoD.

    Or whoever is in charge of the School Development Plan will move on and their successor's updated plan will not feature whatever this technology is and our OP will be able to quietly shelve it.

    Either way, people like me will just be ignored.
    wanet likes this.
  19. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    I had these types of problems in industry. Accountants could not see the merit of moving their spreadsheet data up to a far superior/more flexible product such as COGNOS /Impromptu. People in HR stuck with basic WP when they should have looked seriously at Sharepoint. Marketing insisted they needed MACs for better image/ publishing features but complained when they failed to realise a high-res 8Mb image could not be put on a web page without losing resolution. Corporate standards moved to Lotus Notes which was a law unto itself which few people understood ( or wanted to ). Production control needed a system to new system and decided to build their own on a BBC B rather than ask if the functionality they required could be done with SQL / VB.
    Most schools need systems that can be used by a TA with half an hour of training and little external support. When Sinclair first failed with the Spectrum to get government backing in favour of Acorn, then RM, I would have preferred the government to recognise the rise in popularity of consoles and commission educational software for use on Sega type devices that just needed a plug-in cartridge rather than full blown operating systems.
    cazzmusic1 likes this.
  20. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    I can't think why; you seem so positive and unjaded - and your criticism is so constructive.

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