The global edtech market will see a rise in global spending of $342b by 2025. For teachers, that means edtech is here to stay, as more and more schools and universities are moving towards partial or complete digitization.
However, things are not as rosy as they seem. The edtech industry as a whole has a problem: the successful adoption of technology in the classroom.
When we talk about integrating technology, there’s often the question of training current educators how to use it. That in itself is a good thing, but why wait until they step inside a classroom for the first time? Indeed, I think that the current situation demands a proactive strategy: training future teachers how to use technology.
That’s because change starts with the teachers themselves. If future teachers are taught in the same way as the older generation, they’ll miss the opportunity to learn about edtech early on. There are many ramifications to this problem, but the biggest issue is that they'll be left to learn on their own if their future workplaces don’t provide adequate support for teaching with technology.
This creates a paradox: we’re expecting them to be innovative, flexible and great with edtech while in their own teacher training these things are missing.
6 Ways in which edtech shapes teacher training programs
Here are the things that any teacher training program should address and the impact it will have on future teaching professionals:
Support for all future teachers
Alternative routes to becoming a teacher are bound to rise in popularity. Universities or school districts will have to adapt in order to accommodate quality flexible learning.
But what does it all mean? Demand for K-12 teachers, as well as High School and secondary teachers in the U.S. will grow by 4% in the next decade. A great way to recruit teachers is to offer alternative programs to people that want to switch careers but don’t have the time to complete a second bachelor’s degree.
This doesn’t apply only to people who switch careers. More and more future teachers will want a different kind of schedule since newer generations value flexibility.
In fact, as the demand for teachers raises, alternative route teachers will need adequate support to maintain the same level of competence as their traditional route peers. Offering distance and self-paced courses are a great alternative for addressing their needs.
Modeling teaching with edtech
The assumption that Millennials or Gen Zers are instantly great with technology is completely wrong. Using a device for personal purposes isn’t the same as using it to teach or learn. That’s why all student teachers should be introduced to edtech as soon as possible.
Read more: Computer literacy: The invisible skills gap?
The best argument for starting early is the fact that nothing can beat practice. Modeling the use of edtech drastically increases the chances that they’ll be competent users in the future. It has multiple advantages such as giving them the ability to create engaging lessons or start with good grading habits.
Using technology can open their eyes to new possibilities. For example, it’s best that they get a firsthand experience of what blended learning looks like, or what it actually means to be part of a safe and innovative learning space.
Adaptability in teaching
Having confidence in your skills is essential in any job. Teachers will have to be able to adapt to new circumstances due to quick changes in education. For example, they’ll be asked to offer personalized learning to students, know what to do when students aren’t easy to engage, or even what strategies work when students don’t learn as well in traditional settings.
This starts with the school or university program itself, where they can be expected to experience what it means to be assessed in a nontraditional way - for example, they can be expected to film themselves delivering a classroom activity or create a multimedia lesson with the tool of their choice.
Instead of hitting roadblocks after roadblocks in teaching, teachers should learn how to use the resources they have. For example, they’ll be able to adapt to the unique challenges they’ll find in each classroom - such as students not having an internet connection at home.
Minimizing technological barriers
One of the most technology-related fears that teachers have is that they’ll fail at using it. This creates a barrier that’s hard to cross. To be fair, it’s not anyone’s fault. The variety of tools and the limited time teachers have at their disposal is making it hard for them to learn everything.
That’s why the teacher training program should show them that there’s a variety of things to choose from and that they should adapt to what works best. Having an LMS with a good authoring tool, showing them how to use a green screen or a tablet for giving feedback to students are examples of very diverse things to do.
The biggest advantage is that they’re trying them out in a safe space, with other learners, instead of testing them for the first time ever in their classrooms, as we all know can be a little intimidating at first.
Enabling informed decision-making
A good program should take into account something that will come in handy when they’re busy teachers who don’t have all the time in the world for research and testing all devices. That is, of course, how to think critically about the use of edtech.
This allows for a more bottom-up approach in teaching so they don’t have to be nervous every time the school implements something new. CPD is a great thing, but they can also be proactive, do research on their own and work together with their schools to implement new things.
In this way, technology is not imposed on teachers, it’s something that they can confidently choose, make changes to and come up with suggestions for improvement at a school or district level.
Creating edtech leaders
Creating new products is great, but they really become useful in the hands of teachers and students. That’s why starting early with a coherent plan to engage teachers in training means that you will create communities of learning that are actively engaging with edtech and passing on that knowledge.
For example, a great way to disseminate information is to create a mentorship scheme in which students can communicate and learn from each other. They don’t even have to meet face to face; it’s enough that you use a platform where they can collaborate or set up mentor accounts.
As technology advances, teachers will find themselves in a position to adapt quickly. Any future teacher, whether they’re on a traditional path or on an alternative route, should learn how to use a variety of edtech tools, but also how to think critically about technology in the classroom and pass their knowledge to other educators as well.