Technology in schools has changed in the blink of an eye. What was a hard sell to school boards all over the country has now become a quick approval if it supports remote learning. I’m sure many of you are experiencing this influx of new subscription services to your districts. As librarians we are usually the front line of building-level tech support and providers of professional development. As new products keep coming at us we need to learn how to use them, train our staff and students, and problem solve issues. This is a huge task, and below are some tips that I have learned this year with new subscription service rollouts.
When school districts big or small sign contracts with technology subscription services usually some kind of training is part of the deal. If you are not on the list of people that receive these trainings first in your district, this would be something to advocate for in the future. We all know that in our buildings we are the front lines, and having at least a little time to get to know a program before staff sees it is a life saver. If you have a learning and teaching department make sure that they understand how important asking for these free trainings for their product can be in the contracts as well.
Don’t Reinvent What Already Exists
When I first got bombarded with new subscriptions like Axis 360, Nearpod, Flocabulary, and Newsela I started making training videos right away. This was a huge mistake. I was creating videos of the exact same things that the trainers were showing us in already created materials. A quick YouTube search later and I found a playlist full of videos created by these companies to support teachers and students. Sometimes we need to create tutorials that are specific to our schools, but if you can find the exact same thing already polished and done that work can be taken off your plate.
Information Overload Is Real
The district spent money and they are excited. You now know about this cool new resource and you are excited. Everyone from district to building administrators and ourselves are sending e-mails to staff about what’s new and what’s out there. Since teaching remotely I have never been so overcome by information overload. Yes, the teacher saw your e-mail, but you know what, they feel like they don’t have time to learn one more new thing right now. To combat this overwhelming feeling about new resources I try and keep my e-mails short, sweet, and not constant. Reminders are great, but being all over teachers to attend trainings on certain dates and times won’t boost pilot numbers.
Navigating this new shift in education has us all thrown for a loop. No one has ever done this before. We are pioneers in libraries in our own rights at the moment. With new subscription tools needing to be rolled out to staff in force, the more we can sift through the water together the better.
Author: Elizabeth Libberton
Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.