Onboarding New EdTech Tools: Expert Advice

Adult learning training session

I’ve been helping districts adopt new EdTech tools longer than Olivia Rodrigo has been alive… go ahead and Google it, I’ll wait (good 4 u if you figure it out )... but that doesn’t mean I am an expert. 

What it does mean is that I have a good grasp on the basics and know that I can learn a lot from others who also deliver PD

Have you ever been in a session where participants sit in the back of the room making their shopping lists rather than hanging on every word you say about the amazing new EdTech platform you’re excited about? 

I hate to break it to you, but teachers have a lot on their plate and some might see your session as just another thing they need to add to their overflowing plate. But the PD must be delivered, so what to do?

I asked some experts via the ISTE Connect in the Edtech Coaching Community for their best practices and there were some great tips! To list all of them would make this blog post a novella, so I will attempt to keep it relatively brief.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to increase the adoption of new EdTech tools:

  1. State the purpose. With anything being introduced, teachers need to know how it will help them do their job of reaching students.
  2. Create an environment to learn. We ask our teachers to create an environment that’s conducive to learning for their students, so make sure you do the same. Decide how you want your participants to learn. Will it be collaborative (hopefully)? Provide examples and instances that teachers can apply to their own classrooms.
  3. Remember: it’s a journey. Introducing new technology, regardless of how simple it is to implement, will take a while for full adoption. There will be those who are excited and jump right in, but there will be others who need additional training and/or support. Before you wrap up your session, let everyone know how they can ask questions and request any follow-up training. Providing asynchronous resources is great for some, but others need a warm body to talk to. Have them put important dates/follow-ups on their calendars before ending.
  4. Identify mentors. Those who get it sooner than others can be used as a resource. Oftentimes, teachers learn better from other teachers, especially those who teach the same or close to the same grade level. Identify those teachers and task them with helping another teacher.
  5. Make it fun! Nobody likes the “sit and get” style of PD. It’s horribly ineffective and boring… even for the facilitator. Gamifying apps for students has been highly effective, so why not do the same for teachers? Create a game board so teachers can progress through like the team at Francis Howell School District made.

Lastly and arguably most important, the training should be focused on the teacher and not the technology/new tool. Quickly address learning goals or it is not as practical and immediately applicable as teachers need it to be. Without this context, any onboarding focused on the new tool only will be 1 step forward and 3 steps back.