As a full time teacher, you have way too much to do at one time. Too often educational technology tools are either suggested to or pushed on teachers as one more thing to figure out. This is incredibly frustrating and it doesn’t have to be. My name is Elisa and I am an education specialist at DIG-IT! Games. I was (and still am) a huge advocate for educational technology. My prior roles in my education were as a high school Spanish teacher and technology integrator who ran some professional development opportunities for my colleagues. I was always interested in tools to make my class and teaching not only more fun, but also more effective. One of the most frustrating parts of this, though, was signing up for a new tool and then spending hours to figure out how it works only to find out that it just won’t work for you. I always thought to myself, “Well if they just changed this it would be PERFECT” or “It’s too bad it doesn’t do that” and then I would write the tool off and go about my business. From my Twitter feed, I can tell that this is the frustration of many teachers out there. Since leaving the classroom, here is what I’ve figured out:
Edtech companies only work FOR TEACHERS. Without teachers, they will cease to exist. If some teachers somewhere aren’t using their product, the company will fail. This puts teachers and administrators in an amazing position. They have the opportunity to give feedback and have a hand in making products that are perfect and that they want to use. I know I never really gave this much thought while I was teaching (possibly because we have so much else to do, that writing an email to a company wasn’t a priority) and now that I’m trying to elicit reaction from teachers, I realize how important this process is.
The age of social media has made it so easy to facilitate customer service between clients and companies. Twitter especially has become a way to get instant help, feedback, or advice between teachers and companies. Since I am one of the people monitoring our Twitter account here at Dig-It!, I can honestly say that I’m so excited when teachers engage, ask questions, or just give feedback.
So here’s my ask to current teachers. Stop being silent. If you like a product, tell them why. If you hate a product, tell them why. If you have an idea for an improvement or a feature, tell them. Follow companies on social media and interact with them. You’d be surprised at the reactions you might get like early access to features or some other incentives. This is the only way that you are going to get the product you want and need. If you are trying to use a product and need help, reach out on social media. I know I’d be so excited to answer those questions.
Today signals the beginning of a long-awaited break for many teachers. I am less than a year removed from the classroom and I can still feel the excitement of having a few days off and coming back for what will be the home-stretch of the school year. I know that some of you will not touch anything related to teaching during this break and I know that some of you will be doing lesson plans at some point.
I challenge you to follow at least 1 company whose product(s) you use and try to interact with them. I will be on our handle (@digitgames) if anyone wants to chat about using educational games in the classroom. Also, I am doing some feedback and research on our game, Excavate, so if you’d be interested in helping me out, I’d appreciate it! We are also presenting at the ISTE 2017 conference and would love hear from you there. Reach out on twitter, comment below, or email me to set up a time to talk about games in the classroom with one of our speakers.
Have a happy and safe weekend and if you are on break, enjoy it!