Pedro Díaz, president of FIDE and Master in Educational Management, tells us about the 7 fundamental steps for implementing a digital project in the classroom, steps that, he says, are the product of trial and error, successes and failures based on his own experience as rector of the Maristas de Chile.
As part of the Digital Management Programme for educational centre managers organised by BlinkLearning, the webinar “Management and leadership of the digital project by the management team” took place, where these key points for implementing a digital project in the classroom were explained.
Pedro says that he developed these 7 steps based on his own experience as rector of the Marist School in Rancagua. “Everything that is here is a product of trial and error, of successes and mistakes, and how we have learned along the way.” The decision was taken to implement a digital project in this centre’s classrooms in 2017, mainly due to three factors:
- The weight carried by students in their backpacks.
- The existence of platforms that can host learning materials.
- The conviction that it is urgent to innovate in education.
“Everything that is here is a product of trial and error, of successes and mistakes, and how we have learned along the way.”
The 7 steps to implement a digital project
1. Dialogue and commitment of the management team
“Without leadership, the project fails.” For Díaz, this project is not the responsibility of one person, but requires a whole team that is convinced of the importance of taking this step. Without the leadership of the management team, the project will fail.
2. Installation of a structure to stimulate the project (coordinator and ICT team)
Once the management team is aligned, it is necessary to create a structure, a team that will bring enthusiasm to this project and monitor its progress. “For that, (at the Maristas) we appointed a full-time ICT coordinator”, says Pedro.
3. Getting educators enthusiastic and engaged
Once the management team and the ICT coordinators are aligned, it is time to move on to the educators. There is work to be done to involve and enthuse teachers in this process of change. Díaz stresses the importance of understanding that introducing ICT into the classroom is not just a technological process, but also a change in methodology. In this respect, the pandemic made it very clear that teaching a face-to-face class and teaching a virtual class are two totally different things, two different tools.
“The key work with the educators was to ensure that they wanted to take ownership of the project and didn’t just see it as an obligation.”
“The use of ICT is not technological, it is methodological.”
4. Dialogue: induction with the families
For Díaz, involving the families was key to the success of the project. This phase is therefore very important, since families must be allies of the school.
“It was necessary to work with families to convince them that this was an important step, which also had the advantage of lowering the cost of teaching materials.”
In addition, families had to accept a fundamental change: that it would no longer be a case of helping students at home only with a paper book, but that now homework would also be done with a digital book.
5. Be vigilant in addressing obstacles that confirm the beliefs of those who are resistant to innovation.
“Bear in mind that obstacles will appear, also in the form of resistance.” By this, Pedro means that there is always resistance to paradigm changes and clinging to these obstacles can be a way of resisting.
A very common obstacle is connectivity. A good internet service is therefore required, especially if you want to work with the books online. Another issue is devices: if a student arrives at school without a device, then have a bank of devices that can be used. Díaz highlights that the BlinkLearning platform can be used with any device (tablet, mobile phone, notebook).
6. The key moment is the alliance with publishers
As publishers have all the expertise in terms of digital educational content, they can play a key role in helping teachers to develop a different kind of class, integrating technology.
7. Monitor the process and feed back findings
Last but not least, as in any improvement cycle, it is key to monitor each step and feed back into the process.
Common errors when implementing a digital project in the classroom (all of which can be solved)
1. Trying to make the project go faster than it can
For Pedro it is important to respect the rhythm and not to do it as an obligation. It has to be something that’s wanted in order to bring about change, not something that’s imposed.
2. Conditions and infrastructure of the centre.
“If a learning centre doesn’t have a good internet service, then it’s going to have issues.” The infrastructure available at the learning centre is key for Díaz, as the implementation cannot begin without first making a diagnosis of the structural conditions to be improved in the centre.
Finally, among the main achievements of the project, Díaz mentions the step-by-step implementation of a digital project in the entire network of schools, consolidating a process to develop teachers’ digital skills, generating considerable savings for families, and collaborative or networked work. “The pedagogical work has been carried out with technological resources, both within each school and in the network.”
After implementing the digital project in the classroom, he says that today 619 educators use the platform and 7,579 students work on it.