Technology is moving fast. While some teachers have the opportunity to keep pace with it, some need time and guidance along the way – and that’s where Mike Reading and Adrian Francis come in. As a team, they spend their days training and inspiring educators looking to find the value of incorporating technology into their classrooms.
“In the end, it’s about finding the value proposition for the teacher,” says Adrian. “Once you find out what they value and you solve a problem for them, that’s when you start to see their eyes light up and you see changes in their attitude towards technology. From here, we can guide them into other areas that they wouldn’t have thought possible.”
These former high school teachers met at an IWBNet conference in 2011 where they got to talking about their interest in student engagement, motivation and technology. From this conversation, Using Technology Better was born and today the organization and its staff work with schools and teachers in Australia, New Zealand (and around the world) to help them get the most out of technology – in and out of the classroom. As their Twitter page puts it succinctly, the group is “helping you motivate, manage and engage your students in a way that is ENJOYED not endured!”
“A lot of IT-focused professional development is centered very much around the tools and how they function,” says Mike. “We take it from a different perspective, focusing on the outcome we want, and then finding the tools to achieve that.”
The two agree that Microsoft tools are game changers for teachers and students alike. From OneNote to Microsoft Teams, today’s software offerings, Adrian and Mike say, make the classroom experience more seamless than it has ever been. Their specialty is getting educators excited about it.
For some that have yet to incorporate these tools into their teaching, the idea of having a tech-focused and data-driven teaching model may seem out of reach, but the two stress the ease of getting started and then thriving. Not only do systems like OneNote allow teachers and students to have everything in one place and accessible anywhere, but they let teachers near and far collaborate together as they go.
“A teacher needs to model what they expect from their students,” says Mike. “Students aren’t allowed to just give up and stop learning and so neither can teachers. It’s important to stay inquisitive and always try to improve the way things are done.”