Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How a Cheapskate Introduces Technology Tools

I'm a visionary without a budget. I have grand schemes and wishes but no funding to have expectations. So what do I do? Improvise!  There are ways you can introduce new concepts and tools cheaply or free. I'm the queen of it lately. So here are my latest concepts:

Augmented Reality: 

  • Google Expedition AR Pioneer Program. https://www.blog.google/topics/education/pioneer-new-lessons-your-classroom-google-expeditions/ Sign up. That's what I did. Now the Google Expedition AR Pioneer Team is planning to come to Chattanooga Christian School the first week in May. What I love about this program is that it isn't Google showing the teachers the tool. You sign up for Google to show the teachers the tool and then teachers sign up for 30 minute slots of bringing their students in for a lesson plan that they are leading using the tool (with Google support on deck). It's ingenious and free.
  • The Merge Cube is 99 cents at Walmart locations. I'm not the first to tell the edtech world this...Leslie Fisher blogged about it several months back and educators everywhere have been loading up buggies of these little goodies, myself included. I actually bought one for every elementary teacher at our school and for 3of the middle school science teachers. This is a cost effective way to allow teachers to try something new, on their own time, and feel like they have been given a gift as well! When I handed them out I felt like Oprah because of all the happy thank yous. (If you are a CCS educator don't read this next line)...as an instructional technologist I am out $45 bucks and every educator in the building has a chance to see how this  tool might enhance their curriculum. I see that as a cheap win. 
Free Learning:
  • Become a Connected Educator. This is the greatest gift I give my school district. Staying plugged in and aware of new things, how to access them, and how to get training on them in a cheap or free environment. I've had edu-friends come and lead sessions for our teachers to help them grow. I've been a part of #CHAedu #coffeeEDU where once a month, every month during the school year I walk away with some tidbit of information that will be helpful for my school. I look for opportunities for my teachers to attend and I serve on organization committees to give more educators these chances- i.e. Edcamp Gigcity. 
  • Find sponsors. We've got a few families at our school that are passionate about concepts that relate to my field. Tapping into this gives them a sense of investing in something good and me away to get the job done. Just make sure you have permission to do this. You don't want everyone at your school pitching concepts and needs to the same people. Look for grants as well!
I'll be honest, a lack of funding can be weary. I'm there. I tend to fund more things personally than I should but I don't blame anyone for that. Here is what I have learned...even if the teachers I serve don't ever pick up their Merge cube, my giving it to them was a relational gesture that grows future possibilities. Even if our teachers don't take part in the learning opportunities like Google Expedition Pioneer Program Day or Edcamp Gigcity, I am giving them chances to consider seeing education differently. The truth of the matter is not everyone is enticed by the same things. I love to read educational blogs but I literally have a hard time listening to educational podcasts. There are others that are the exact opposite. Baby steps are the key...and just like we do for our elementary students- it's more about experiences than mastery of anything I share. When something clicks with a teacher, I don't have to do much but get out of their way! That's always a cheap answer.