In 2015 alone, institutions of higher education are expected to spend $6.6 billion on education technology. For many people, that number sounds promising—technology has opened up the doors to new opportunities and ways of learning. For some faculty members, however, it sounds intimidating. New technologies in the classroom take time to learn and sometimes seem more distracting than useful.
On the whole, faculty members are open to the idea of using new technologies, as evidenced by a recent Faculty Focus survey in which 75% of respondents said they’d used a new technology in their classes in the last year. In that same survey, though, 34% listed keeping up with new technologies as one of their biggest day-to-day challenges.
Therein lies the issue. Many professors are open to trying out new education technologies, but finding the time to learn them and use them effectively—especially in a technology landscape that’s continually evolving—can be a challenge. As such, when administrators introduce a new tech product to their schools, no matter how beneficial the change, faculty may well respond with hesitation and pushback, tired of always having to embrace the next shiny, new thing.
Many of our ExamSoft client ambassadors have tested out different ways of introducing the testing software at their schools and have gained perspective on what works. Here are some tips culled from their experiences.
1. Take the time to make your case.
Expecting faculty to embrace a new technology just because you want them to is unrealistic. Make the case for how the new product will benefit them. Does it make their lives easier? Does it cut down the number of tedious tasks they have to complete each day? Or will it save the school money that can be funneled to other things they care about?
Share case studies showing the results a technology has achieved at other colleges. Consider it earning bonus points if the case studies speak to the faculty’s response to using it.
2. Provide training.
Few education technologies are entirely intuitive. While designers do their best to make technology easy to use, there’s usually a bit of a learning curve in the beginning—both for understanding the technology itself and for mastering best practices to maximize its benefits.
Provide the proper resources and training to get faculty there. If possible, arrange for them to test the product before they use it in their classrooms and then listen to any feedback they provide. An important part of the process is making sure you’re hearing and addressing faculty concerns.
3. Encourage faculty to learn from faculty.
Some faculty members will have an easier time with the technology than others, finding ways to use it effectively that others might miss. By encouraging communication between faculty members on how to use the product, everyone will get more out of it.
Make it easy for faculty members to share their experiences and tips. Academic collaboration can produce great ideas and results.
4. Make sure you have the proper infrastructure and support.
If you urge your professors to use a technology that requires Internet access but don’t have the bandwidth to back it up, you’ll pretty much guarantee frustration. Make sure you have the infrastructure in place to support your new education technology and pay attention if hear complaints that it’s not enough.
Additionally, make sure your IT staff members are familiar with the product and have the knowledge to address concerns and help faculty through any issues that arise. If you can alleviate tech concerns, you’ll forestall many complaints.
5. Track and share results.
Don’t consider the job done once your faculty has started using the new technology. Track how well it’s working and share the results with them. If the investment is increasing graduation rates or improving student retention, show them the numbers.
Faculty are likely seeing some of the results at the micro level, but letting them know how the technology is facilitating the school’s larger education goals can keep them committed to using the technology in the long-term.
An education technology is only as good as how it’s used. Working with faculty to make sure they can see and realize the benefits of a new technology is a crucial part of the process. We’ve seen many schools pull it off, and we can help yours do the same. If you want more information, just get in touch.