Addressing reluctant adopters' concerns in tech plans yields long-term benefits
- While it may seem easier to avoid naysayers, district leaders who work to understand the point of view of teachers reluctant to embrace tech initiatives, respect their objections, and include some representatives of the group in tech implementation plans can help ease the path for smooth implementation and acceptance, Edutopia reports.
- There are five groups of individuals in terms of their approach to change: the innovators, who are eager for change; the early adopters, who wait for more information before embracing change; the early and late majority, who wait in varying degrees to see how things work out before accepting change; and the laggards, or reluctant adopters, who are resistant to change. Pairing a reluctant adopter with anyone other than an innovator during the transition process helps, because innovators tend to overwhelm reluctant adopters.
- Teachers reluctant to adopt new tech face first-order and second-order barriers: providing proper professional development and tech support can help address first-order barriers, but second-order barriers, the emotional and mental objections, require that district leaders understand and overcome a teacher’s fears and concerns and help them see the value of how the tech will benefit them in the classroom.
Teachers who have recently graduated from college may find an aversion to new technology hard to understand. But many veteran teachers who have developed effective teaching methods may view the endless array of new tech initiatives with trepidation and suspicion. There are many reasons why some teachers look askance at thse initiatives, ranging from emotional responses to valid concerns. Administrators need to listen to these concerns when making tech decisions and when deciding how best to bring “laggards” on board.
The number of teachers who are resistant to tech may be greater than some school leaders realize. EdSurge reported last year that the "technology adoption life cycle" based on the work of communication theorist and sociologist Everett Rogers finds that the "late adopter" and "laggard" categories include around 50% of tech adopters. And a recent survey of 1,000 teachers with at least five years of classroom experience found that 82% believe tech enhances learning, leaving almost 20% who might be indifferent or skeptical at best.
But tech in the classroom is here to stay. The modern workplace demands that future workers have sufficient experience in dealing with tech, and it also offers real advantages in terms of instruction and monitoring student progress.
However, it's not the solution to every problem, and too much tech in the classroom can be detrimental. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development noted that “students who use computers moderately at school tend to do somewhat better than students who use computers rarely and significantly better than students who use computers frequently," The Huffington Post reported in 2015.
While administrators need to find ways to help reluctant adopters adapt to new tech in the classroom by demonstrating its value, it seems that reluctant adopters may also serve a role in placing the brakes on putting too much faith in tech as the cure for all educational ills.