In the wake of this implementation pace, educators and students may be on the verge of tech burnout: a state of digital fatigue that can generate negative effects ranging from mental exhaustion to reduced productivity and disengagement.
Tech use alone, though, often isn’t the main cause of tech burnout, according to Akilah Willery, a Texas-based K–12 education strategist for CDW•G.
“People start to blame the technology tool, or just blame technology in general, and usually it’s not the tech,” Willery says. “It’s often that there wasn’t a thoughtful evaluation of your current state and how you want to get to your desired state.”
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Incorporating new software and devices in classrooms has the potential to increase efficiency and facilitate learning, but these outcomes aren’t possible without careful planning and consideration. The rollout of new tech tools can sometimes be swift, with teachers receiving little or no time to familiarize themselves enough to effectively integrate the technology into their daily lessons and routines.
To reduce the risk of new tech making students and educators feel more disillusioned than educationally engaged, districts may want to consider using the following approaches to tech implementation.
Review New Tech Tools with Your Audience in Mind
Technology is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution, which is one reason schools should consider a structured-choice approach to IT purchasing.
A structured-choice approach can help position districts to make better technology investments and empower teachers with tools that meet their unique needs.
Instead of making blanket tech purchases for the district, each school can consider a curated list of tech options to choose from, based on its individual needs. The approach also factors in how well new technologies will integrate with the district’s overall infrastructure to prevent any compatibility issues.
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“During the pandemic, there wasn’t a lot of time to research all of these options, but in more stable periods of education, do the research,” Willery says. “Who are the people that are going to be using this tech tool? Those are the people you need to hear from.”
In addition to the technology’s cost and lifecycle management requirements, schools should make sure they’ve clarified exactly how the item will be used before presenting any new tech tools to end users, Willery says.
Schools also need to think about their goals with any new device they roll out. “What are you expecting to see once you purchase these devices or this software application?” Willery asks. “Figure out what the purpose is, and then make sure you have a range of options you bring to the target audience.”
If district leaders don’t have a clear idea of what their educators are already using, they run the risk adopting tools that overlap in purpose. This can leave teachers confused about what is expected of them. By talking with end users, K–12 IT admins can determine if there are overlapping tools and strategically choose which solutions will best serve their mission.