Teachers get tech, but not training

Even more than new technology, teachers want training in how to use tech tools, writes Liz Willen on the Hechinger Report.

Austin, TX. – With apps for everything from annotating poetry to understanding literature through hip hop, it might have seemed teachers in attendance at the sprawling South by Southwest.edu (SXSW) festival last week were hungry for new tools and technology.

After all, a dizzying menu of new classroom technology prevailed; there was even an interactive playground to try it all out.

The RobotsLab was on hand to demonstrate math and science concepts using what else? Robots.

New products like ClassroomIQ promised to give teachers their time back by helping them grade. From Berlin came a new way to learn languages called Unlock Your Brain.

But technology isn’t much use without training, teachers say. In a nationwide survey of more than 600 K-12 teachers, half said they didn’t get enough help in how to use technology in the classroom, reports digedu.

Some teachers feel left out of the debate on how to use technology to improve teaching and learning.

“Teachers show up at large, industry-driven conferences feeling more than a little like middle school students at their first dance. They want to be there so badly but they are completely confused as to how they fit in and what role they should adopt,’’ Shawn Rubin of EdSurge wrote in a column after last year’s festival.

Middle-school teacher Josh Work has 5 Tips to Help Teachers Who Struggle with Technology.

About Joanne


  1. Or maybe you get training, but not the technology for all kids or more importantly, you don’t get time to implement the use of technology. The apps are out there, but what do you do with the 25% of your kids without smart phones or devices? Or if it’s a school based technology, dependent on a classroom based projector or software only on your work computer like a lot of Mobi based programs, (http://www.einstruction.com/products/mobile-interactive-whiteboards/mobi-mobile-interactive-whiteboard), when do you find time to enter the content specific information to optimally use the technology? Especially, when you have the option of continuing traditional hard-copy instruction with existing resources at no cost in time to you.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Amen. Much new technology requires a large initial investment of time and effort. You may well get a payoff down the line, but if you’re pressed for time now …

  2. The technology seems to follow the gnome plan:
    1. technology
    2. …..
    3. “education”

    Is the technology really solving problems teacher have? Even if the teacher can’t name it. Or are they solutions the developers think should or would be cool to solve?

  3. Maybe that mutt from the professional development video of a few posts ago is available. That’s just the sort of presenter that would be in keeping with the public education system’s commitment to make use of technology to improve education.

  4. Joanne-

    Thanks for mentioning us (ClassroomIQ) in this article about training teachers. We 100% agree that technology is passed off to teachers without proper training or just a link to a giant knowledge base. We realize that time is the most scarce resource to teachers and try to make is simple for teachers to get started using ClassroomIQ. Over the past 4 months I’ve spent evenings and weekends doing 15 minute Google hangouts with teachers all over the country to get them started with ClassroomIQ. Based on the most common questions I’ve seen, I’m now developing 20-30 second videos to help teachers move through the basic parts of our platform. In addition, I spend a considerable amount of time at our local schools that are using ClassroomIQ to answer questions and get feedback from teachers on how to improve the product for them.

    I’d love to know, what do you think is the best way to provide training to teachers? Should we focus on creating wiki’s and a knowledge base? Should we do more 1:1 training in person and virtually? Do teachers like quick videos to answer the questions they have?

    [email protected]

  5. Ann in L.A. says:

    Tech in general is overrated. The tech usually comes first, then gathers dust in the corner because no one really knows what to do with it.

    It should be the other way around: there should be a need first, that can’t be met by other means, then a tech solution is found. Form should follow function.

  6. I’m teaching at a private school where there is a big fundraising push for more tech – problem is that we have no training or tech support. I can train myself and incorporate as much tech as I find useful and have time for, but many of my colleagues are still tech illiterate – meaning they have no idea about how to use power point or do anything in Word beyond basic typing.

    I learned quickly, my first year, that assumptions of tech availability and understanding at my students’ homes were wrong. It’s common for some of our (mostly middle class) students to not have a working computer or printer.