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Getting Your School on the Technology Bandwagon
Mia Major

Winning the budget approval for an LMS or responsive website is only half the battle. Successfully getting your entire school to think and act digitally is the other half.

New technology is always a culture change — whether it's a private portal, responsive website, or an online learning management system. And with that change comes both early adoption and resistance from your constituents. Whether it's a few faculty members that just won't budge, or your entire community needing some convincing, here are some ways you can get your school on board with the new technology you've worked so hard to put in place.

Prove the benefits.

Prior to implementing a new piece of technology like an LMS, conduct a survey among faculty, students and parents asking what their biggest pains are with your school's current systems. That way, you can directly target those pains when you share the benefits. For example, if the survey revealed that 80% of parents said they wish your school had better communications, be sure to focus on how you're the LMS improves communication.

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Depend on your early adopters.

A variety of students, faculty, and parents alike will immediately love the new technology at your school. Depend on them to endorse it, and help other constituents become familiar with it. The more members of your community you have helping you, the easier and quicker it will be to get the entire school on board.

Make it a requirement.

Surely this isn't the path of least resistance, but it will get you to your goal much quicker. When you require constituents to use it, they are bound to experience the benefits first hand. So, when your teachers find themselves answering a few less emails asking, "when is that assignment due again?" — they're going to feel a little more positive about the change.

But remember — it's all about baby steps. For example, when St. Mary's Lynn implemented their LMS, they made it mandatory for every teacher to upload the class syllabus to their online group space. That was it. Making it a requirement forced faculty and staff to get in and use the LMS, discover its simplicity, and reap some positive feedback from students and parents. And now, the majority of teachers are using the online group space for much more than just their syllabus.

Training, training, training.

It's human nature to fear, and even protest, change — and the best way to combat that emotion is with knowledge. Holding training events both online and in person will get constituents up to speed and feeling comfortable for the school year. Since constituents will be using different pieces of the technology — particularly within an LMS — you should train your faculty, parents and students separately to show them exactly what they'll be using and how to use it.

In all cases, be sure you make yourself and your team readily available to answer emails. The more connected you are to your community during this change, the smoother the transition.

Training teachers: Bring teachers back on campus early to get them used to the software. Allow about 2-3 weeks for training to be able to show them how to use every component of the technology in detail — the more they know, the better. We encourage our schools to share the abundance of online training webinars and resources with all teachers to get them up to speed.

Training parents: Most schools find it beneficial to host a parent orientation about the new technology. Holding it in conjunction with another event — like an accepted student day, or new student orientation — won't take any additional time out of their busy schedule, and will ensure you have their attention. Be sure to stress the changes that will be made. For example, if your school recently went paperless, be sure to share the new online locations for previously printed materials like permission slips.

Training students: During their first day of classes or orientation, brief them on the technology your school is providing and how to use it. Students tend make up the majority of your early adopters, because they're already avid users of technology — so they should catch on easily.

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