While we often consider student engagement to be the responsibility of teachers and principals, as education technology proliferates, IT administrators play an increasingly important role. In 2020, we saw IT administrators work quickly to create functional remote and hybrid learning environments during the pandemic. Beyond looking at software and hardware solutions that would support schools’ immediate need to deliver lessons, IT leaders also ensured interoperability between technology was possible, as to not further disrupt student engagement. In fact, we see that IT leaders’ contribution is foundational to sustained student engagement. Their work will help enable classes to innovate in new settings such as hybrid learning and flipped classrooms.
However, IT leaders face the challenge of finding the right tools for the long list of schools’ needs; they are tasked with balancing functionality with flexibility. At a time where students and teachers rely heavily on these new technology tools in new learning environments, there is a great opportunity for IT to be a driver of positive engagement. Here are three ways that IT leaders can support student engagement:
1. Look for Built-in Tools and Lesson Delivery Solutions
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome with student engagement is providing enough lesson variety to combat fatigue. This can be an especially big task for teachers who are simultaneously learning to navigate new learning environments, on top of the large workload they are already managing. IT administrators may introduce software with a variety of built-in lesson templates, to address this challenge. Using an interactive classroom display with access to thousands of apps opens a world of options for educators to customize their lessons and bring more dynamic experiences into the learning environment. There are also lesson delivery software solutions that include access to marketplaces that have a robust inventory of lesson templates that cover topics from the biology of a cell to the US constitution. Different lesson formats from these resources will help keep students engaged without creating additional work for teachers.
2. Pave a Path for Student Engagement
IT has a great opportunity to help engineer more opportunities for better student engagement. This could be as simple as introducing interactive panels to classrooms, allowing classrooms to operate in a new, but familiar way. Moreover, the adjustment from whiteboard to the panel is easy when the display and interface are designed to flow with how teachers intuitively move when modeling problems and lessons. Panels also translate well to new classroom environments where some or all students are remote. For example, Promethean’s interactive panel helps teachers deliver more dynamic and interactive lessons and content. It allows for secure, multi-device collaboration via screen sharing across networks using a number of devices. This frees teachers to move anywhere in the classroom and create small/large group interactions that drive student engagement. Lessons for students can also be placed in any cloud-sharing platform, where students can easily access them from home.
Panels can create more opportunities for student-teacher interaction. Not only do they allow a teacher to model concepts/subject matter in the traditional way seen on chalk and whiteboards, they present classes with a robust arsenal for collaboration. Panels can allow teachers to show a video, pause it and then annotate over it. A panel makes it easy for an entire history class to explore the Great Wall of China or the Roman Colosseum through video, stopping at a natural point in their journey to discuss and learn. There are also opportunities for student engagement with quick polling and quizzing during a lesson. Teachers could also have classes break into groups and send assignments to student devices for them to work on and then share work back to the interactive panel, enforcing a truly collaborative learning environment. Students today are digital natives, so this will also help them get and stay engaged when used in the right way.
3. Partner for Professional Development
Teacher technology training has the potential to empower teachers to innovate with student engagement. By choosing to partner with an edtech company that offers professional development, IT administrators further prioritize proper student engagement.
The company whose products a school or district invests in must understand the challenges that you and your team are facing. Work with your technology partners to define what success looks like when it comes to student engagement. If education teams can show an increase in student engagement after implementing the right technology and professional development with the curriculum, their stakeholders will see the value in the investment. These companies should work with IT not just on ad-hoc tech and maintenance issues but should be thoroughly invested in implementation, training, and professional development.
Advancing student engagement begins with engaging teachers and cultivating a student engagement-first mindset alongside them. Professional development is a big part of this and plays a key role. It can be one of the best forums to integrate a student engagement-focused approach. Companies with a long history in the sector will understand this best. They know the hurdles to student engagement and the best ways to get over them.
As technology is playing an increasingly important role in how we innovate and drive student engagement, the role that IT leaders hold in education is shifting. Teachers, principals, and superintendents are looking to IT administrators’ expertise to help them best use technology to engage with students. Given the projected trajectory of edtech use for the foreseeable future, the role of IT will continue to be critical for student success.
To learn more about how Promethean can support IT administrators and their work in driving student engagement, contact us for a demo.