In my role as ICT Coordinator I “help” other educators with technology. Although sometimes the cry is quite literally “help me!” often the most effective ways of ‘helping” involve approaches that are proactive, planned and resourced. Here are my top 5 strategies s at this point in time.
1) Enable don’t rescue
“If you teach a man to fish…” Working side by side and sharing strategies for learning enables problem-solving and self help. Rescuing people gets the job done quickly but leaves them helpless and perpetuates the problem. I’d rather spend an hour helping someone learn a new skill than 10 minutes doing it for them.
2) Open Up
It’s tempting to simplify and standardize learning environments to make things “easy” by dictating the look, feel and software available. However, the more ownership a learner has of their technology, the more stake they have in their own development. Why not open up? What’s the worst that can happen? Backups are wonderful. Sometimes starting over is a lesson worth learning too. Teachers and students need administrative access to their computers so they can make the changes needed to personalise their learning environments.
3) Proactive Help
Rather than waiting to re-act when problems occur, why not work with teachers when they are planning and imagining possibilities? Novices may not always see ways to transform learning (SAMR Model) using technology. Helping one another when planning learning is where some of the biggest transformations can occur. I love to do the background work to set teachers up for success and being supported reduces their perception of risk.
4) Build, buy and share tools to Enable Self Help
Whether its a database of FAQs, a collection of “Tech Help” tips, a library of resources, an ePub with tips, or a collection of socially book marked weblinks there are unlimited resources for helping learners help themselves. Sometimes people just need to be pointed in the right direction (see #1). Alan November talks about the idea of Learning Farms where students create and share tutorials to help themselves, their peers AND their teachers.
5) BIte-sized tips
At our staff meetings we share a 2-3 minute “SnipIT” or short segment of how to use technology. Sometimes, its a nuts and bolts item like “how to calibrate a projector” or “lodging a help desk ticket”. More often than not SnipITs involves a teacher sharing something innovative they have tried with their students (creating an eBook, filming students, creating QR codes or trying out a new online resource). This fosters a culture of sharing and risk-taking and gives people ‘put it into practice tomorrow’ ideas.