Tuesday 14 February 2017

If change was easy, I wouldn't have to write about it!

Change management.

A buzz word you will see on many a CV out there in the wild. But what does it mean in a practical, day-to-day working environment? I hope to talk a little bit about it from my perspective as a Tech Integrator in an educational setting.

The phrase in my job description of “integrating modern technology” would immediately make it clear that some form of change management would need to occur, and boy, do teachers just love change...Warning: a sweeping statement is about to follow.

Young people do not need to be taught how to integrate technology into what they do. 

It is already such an integral part of their lives, both professionally and away from work.  The word mobile phone is being phased out in favour of mobile device because let’s face it – what percentage would you say phone calls make up of your weekly usage? According to Deloitte, a whopping 31% of smartphone users make no traditional voice calls in a given week.

So that leaves us with the older generation.  I find myself in an industry with ages ranging from fresh-out-of-uni to past-retirement and am faced with the mammoth task of getting old dogs to learn new tricks. But is it really going to be THAT difficult?  Surely the young pups could be used to persuade the “more established” of their colleagues that embracing the advancements of modern tech would make their day-to-day grind a little easier?...

And ultimately, I think it comes down to one word. Attitude. How does the old saying go? Ah yes, "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."  Getting someone on-side and seeing the value in what you are aiming to achieve; to see the big picture and then buy into the idea will make the job a whole lot easier. Easier said than done, though.

One of my most valued skills is having the ability to talk to people, to be approachable and give them the feeling that their need matters to me, regardless of what it may be. Too often have people resisted asking a question for fear of being made to feel stupid or simply not understanding the “geek speak”.

Finding the time to talk to teachers about their needs is crucial, and is not always easy. Quite often the onus on integrating technology in a school falls on the IT teacher. A teacher with 7 lessons a day as well as all the planning and marking for those classes. A teacher that has to go to staff meetings and departmental meetings. If you're lucky,  then maybe he/she has time left over to think about the technology used in school. But they surely won't have time to chat to Mrs Sullivan about her tech needs in the classroom. This is where the first steps towards real change take place.

Jeff Bradbury wrote an interesting post on hiring a tech coach. Someone who is paid to assist teachers in their use of technology and who, hopefully, would have the time to sit down with teachers and discuss their needs. Having access to the latest hardware or writing informative blogs only mean so much if the interpersonal relationships are neglected. This is what facilitates change, not shoving an iPad in a teacher's hand and telling them to "go to the app store" or search Twitter for #edtech.

'till next time.

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