The most important part of implementing essential technology is professional development followed by instructional coaching in the classroom. This week I trained the teachers who will be participating in our instructional initiative pilot in the spring. The training was on Canvas the learning management system (LMS) we are using with Google Apps and Chromebooks. The reason I picked Canvas over the other 6 LMS platforms I looked at was for its UI. The user interface of Canvas is intuitive and slick. I wanted my teachers to really experience how easy Canvas is to navigate and I geared my training to that goal. I thought I was already….
A couple days before the trainings my teachers received their Chromebooks to play with. The teachers loved how fast the devices booted up and how simple the OS was on the Chromebook. One of the complaints I heard, especially from teachers who didn’t own a laptop, was using the trackpad on the Chromebook. This and the lack of a dedicated Caps Lock key on the keyboard. This was understandable to see some of a learning curve when it comes to a new piece of technology. After distributing the Chromebooks I was thinking about my training sessions and realized that we will be using Lenovo Laptops in the training room at the Education Service Center and remembered how frustrated I get when I go to use a trackpad on a different laptop. If my goal of training is the software, I need to make sure that other variables (the laptop, trackpad, etc) don’t distract or frustrate the participants. I called around and found a box of computer mice and offered it to the teachers. At first many of my teachers acted like they were doing something wrong as they sheepishly walked up to the box of mouse and snatched one up. Others struggled through the training with the trackpad. A couple of teachers brought their own.
Maybe it’s the science teacher in me, but I am always looking at what the goal of my training is (what am I training on: independent variable) and what I want my teachers to get out of it (learning: dependent variables) and want to make sure that other variables don’t skew my results. So when you go to train people on essential technology make sure other variables aren’t influencing your results or keeping you from your goals. You do this by making sure you have constants (computer, mouse, presentation, room temperature, etc) in place and that you have removed all other variables. (Sorry, I can’t do anything about that annoying participant who thinks they know more than you or likes to hear themselves talk… 🙂 )