The decision to ‘go paperless’ is a bold move which requires a great deal of strategic planning. Many schools rush into this , without thinking through all the pitfalls and processes required for success. Schools can end up with a lot of expensive equipment that is not fully utilised, demotivated teachers, disgruntled parents and frustrated learners.
We spoke to Angela Allan, from My Cyberwall, for advice on implementing this process. Angela has helped many schools through the transitional period of implementing e-learning and brings valuable experience to this process. Her advice is as follows:
When implementing e-learning in a school, a change management process should be followed, as the steps to successful implementation are the same as in any organisation with diverse stakeholders.
Step 1 – Prepare
This first step focuses on researching the technology, planning, and communication of the process.
- The need for the technology should be identified – Are parents or teachers pressurising the school? Is this part of the school’s academic and/or marketing strategy? How will this affect the way in which we teach and learners learn?
- Barriers to successful implementation must be identified and eliminated as far as possible. Resistance to change should be anticipated. How will parents react? How will teachers feel about doing things differently? These types of concerns should be discussed in the preparation stage. Establishing the readiness of the school to change is essential.
- Next, a common vision that all parties can agree on should be created and communicated to the relevant stakeholders. This vision should come from the highest level and be seen as part of the overall implementation strategy.
- A clear action plan will then need to be drawn up, to include what is to be done, how it will be done, how long it will take, how it will be communicated, and include milestones, dates, and costs. Evaluating the school’s current position in terms of technology use against the required future position will allow the school to see which steps are needed in order to bridge the gap between the two positions.
Step 2 – Implementation
The second step involves the implementation of the action plan.
- Training of teachers and school administrators is critical. Motivating the team to use the new technology should ensure that any initial fears or hurdles are overcome. Some teachers that are not comfortable with technology might require extra coaching and ongoing support.
- Once the new technology has been accepted and implemented , it must become part of everyday teaching and not seen as an extra chore outside of a teacher’s normal responsibilities. Promoting the benefits of the new tech-based approach and monitoring the manner in which the technology is used, should be the responsibility of a senior staff member.
- Communication should not limit to the preparation stage. It is vital that communication to parents and teachers should be ongoing even after the formal implementation stage is complete.
- School leaders should lead by example and support the change process. They will need to anticipate and remove any barriers that might prevent teachers from using new technology effectively. This could be, for example, poor wifi reception in a certain classroom.
Step 3 – Review and Sustain
Once implementation has been achieved and any ‘teething problems’ ironed out, this step should be implemented. It is vital for the continued success of the implemented project.
- Regular feedback and review with all parties involved should be ongoing. Looking back on the required future position that was envisaged in step 1 can be incorporated in the review.
- Successes should be communicated and celebrated and opportunities for further improvements can be identified.
- Questions to ask include: Have we achieved what we set out to achieve? What has been successful? What has not been successful? Why? How can we do better in the future?
- Implementing an e-learning solution can offer great rewards to both teachers and learners, but the process does require some planning.
- There are many schools who have been planning their e-learning route for several years and are ready for full implementation. This could involve all learners working on their devices with My Cyberwall and compatible apps. For these schools, the dream of becoming a paperless school is now being turned into a reality and a new and exciting journey lies ahead. The future of learning has arrived!
–Find out more about My Cyberwall here.