Here’s a method that helps teachers become experts (again)

I find myself saying “I downloaded this because (it sounded cool/a friend recommended it) but I haven’t had time to try it.” or, “I used this a few times right after I downloaded it, but I’m not using it anymore — I just haven’t gotten around to deleting it.”

With the torrent of applications appearing on web. mobile, games and virtual platforms, it may be time to be more ruthless. Most current Web-based applications are ephemeral and must be immediately understandable or users will fail adopt them.

Many tools (from Twitter to Second Life) require operational and conceptual adaptations in practice too.

Take MS Word. Most teachers have no wider use for it than typing up facts/tasks and formatting. Few would use ‘track changes’ and comments in optimal ways for student feedback, despite Words ability to evidence participation and collaboration, They are in this regard – expert users already. 90% of teachers will churn anything else you show them — as these applications/features are not typically a core part of their work. Even the 10% using Twitter etc., – tune out anything they don’t really want to pay attention to – easily,  and don’t ‘try’ things in which they see themselves as novices (or use them intermittently).

An approach to building capacity is to grow fresh experts by fast-tracked training.

You can hire a mentor to take a few teachers (4-5)  through the re-design of their lessons using a few simple applications and answer all of their questions. To discourage them using new technologies intermittently; school leaders need to generate plenty of time to for teachers to practice with identified technologies before asking them to use them with students. This can be cost-effective because you don’t have to monitor them closely during practice sessions and the expert can be external to the school (which is better).

Leaders have to get off the fence and not be digital-sheeple.

Schools need to select a quorum of technologies to suit pedagogues they want to see. If they want social-constructavist schools, they can’t allow the student experience to become intermittent. If 90% of your staff won’t use an approach/tool consistently, and only a few teachers are on-board with the idea; it won’t work for students.

Teachers are novices for a short time but experts for a long time — for any tool, pedagogy or strategy that they continue to use.

It is very hard to shift anyone away from being an expert – unless they get time to practice and have access to external expert mentor-support to answer questions and lead them.