A Five-Step Plan to Introduce Your Next-Generation Learning Environment

Fostering adoption of new technologies by students, teachers and other members of the educational community

Schools at all levels—K – 12, universities, community colleges, trade schools and institutes of technology—are embracing new technologies to help students, teachers, researchers and staff reach new levels of success. Cloud, mobile and social tools make it possible for learning to happen anywhere, at any time, on any device, and help parents, teachers and students collaborate and communicate like never before. It’s a stirring vision that can change countless lives for the better—but what if people don’t actually use the new tools?

Implementing technologies like desktop and app virtualization, mobility management, file sync and sharing, and social collaboration is a significant undertaking for any organization. It can be easy to overlook one final, critical element of the project: making sure people understand and adopt the next-generation learning environment you’ve created. The following five steps will help.

1. Start with “why”

Let people know what the new solution means to them: how will it make their lives easier? Why will it be better than the old way? They’re not going to care about factors like cost savings or improved school rankings—focus on the freedom they’ll gain to access to the apps they need from any device they choose. Students can complete assignments anywhere they want to work instead of being confined to a computer lab, and they can collaborate remotely with classmates anywhere. Educators can start their lesson planning on a computer at school, then finish it on a laptop or tablet at home. Staff members gain a more convenient and productive work experience. Teachers, parents and students can communicate and work together more easily than ever.

2. Find your champions

Seek out early adopter types across the campus community—including students, teachers and staff in every department—who are well respected by their peers and enlist them to help you spread the word. Teach them both the “why” and the “how” of the new technologies, and make sure they use the tools often to showcase their benefits. People need to understand that the next-generation learning environment is designed to become part of their daily routine, and that the more they use it, the more benefits they’ll see.

3. Communicate early and often

Begin spreading the word about new tools well before their actual release date, and address a wide range of user priorities and concerns. Get tech-savvy people excited about the apps that will now be available on mobile devices for the first time. Reassure less sophisticated users that the transition to the new tools will be simple and well-supported. Make IT a visible presence on campus throughout the implementation and keep lines of communication open and easily accessible so people know where to turn with questions.

4. Provide post-launch guidance

Once the solution has been released, keep educating users on how to access and use it, from guidance on downloads to productivity tips for power users. Use a variety of media—signage on campus, informational videos, demo areas in high traffic areas, QR codes for quick and easy downloads and IT office hours for anyone needing help getting started. The more information and advice you provide, the more likely people will be to adopt and use the new tools.

5. Repeat

It’s only natural to want to collapse once you’ve made it across the finish line of a big project like this—don’t do it! Change can be hard, and people tend to drift back into old habits before new ones can be fully established. Keep reminding people why the next-generation learning environment is there, how it makes their lives better and how simple it can be to use. This is especially important at the beginning of each new semester—not only will some students have forgotten about the new tools or lapsed in usage, but you’ll also have many new students and faculty members to bring onboard. Consistent communication and education are key.

Next-generation learning can be the best thing that’s happened to students and teachers since the invention of summer vacation. By following and repeating the steps above, you can help every member of your educational community benefit from these new ways of learning, teaching and collaborating. If you want to learn more, visit IT solutions for education.