What does it take to implement new tech programs effectively at your school?

We’re excited to bring you a guest post today from Ellie Hook, a former teacher and a current Proposals Manager at IXL. Below, she shares her insights on effectively implementing new tech programs.

As educators transition from evaluating supplemental programs to implementing them, what does it take to ensure the whole team is on board for effective rollout of a new program? Here are a few strategies.

Align purchaser and user goals for the year

There can sometimes be a disconnect between the people who purchase an edtech program, and those who use it: A department head or administrator may purchase the program, then hand off the program to teachers after the purchase without communicating clear goals or developing user investment in the program. Suddenly a program full of potential becomes yet another task on an overburdened to-do list.

To avoid this problem during implementation, create usage goals collaboratively, including metrics for success and a timeline to meet those goals. The most successful adoptions of a new program are those where the new program is integrated into a school’s ecosystem of existing resources and initiatives, filling a clearly articulated need.

Dedicate time for professional development

Because it takes time to integrate a new program into the scope and sequence for the year, one of the best proactive steps you can take is providing teachers with designated planning time for integrating a new program into their lesson, unit, and yearlong plans.

Consider devoting blocks of department time throughout the year to collaborate around using the new resource. If you’re using IXL, for example, teachers can start with the standards alignment page to easily find skills that will provide targeted content to supplement their lessons. In department teams, challenge one another to come up with new ways to integrate IXL practice during group work, for homework, and for differentiation. After students practice, review IXL Analytics data to strategize about how to respond to demonstrated student needs.

Finally, scheduling a professional development session with your edtech provider can be a great first step to digging into the program and collaborating on pedagogical strategies for effective usage. You can also have leading users at your school provide their peers with advice about getting started.

Establish tech protocols

With tech programs, student set-up time (getting their devices, logging in, connecting to WiFi, opening the program) can cut significantly into instructional time. To avoid this tech time suck, establish tech protocols for all stages of using an edtech program: What process will students use to efficiently get their devices and sit down? Are there ways to streamline their login process? When will teachers provide instructions for the lesson (before or after students get their devices)?

Create strong culture around usage

Not surprisingly, school-wide implementation often results in several teachers not using the new program because they simply don’t see the value or don’t know how to get started.

Counteract this by getting all members of the school community invested in the program. Send parents an email or letter letting them know the goals with the new program and how they can monitor their child’s progress. Hold students accountable for their work to facilitate ownership of their personal progress. Host usage contests to get students motivated, and hang tracker posters or include progress updates in the morning announcements. When students, parents, teachers, and administrators are all engaged in student progress, the onus of successful implementation becomes a community-wide initiative.