What Are Strategies for Promoting Your Technology Program?


Technology teachers are often the forgotten group that works with students no one else likes to teach, or at least this is one of the perceptions. I have often heard the negative term dumping ground. As we all know, technology programs are not mandatory and we must compete for students. This is directly related to budgets and jobs. Having many students usually means more budget money and jobs. Tech teachers are phenomenal at problem-solving, especially when it calls for stretching a buck and delivering enriched programs. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The students benefit from the program; however, this can give administration a reason for lowering the budget amounts.

So why promote technology? Even if you have a decent budget and an understanding administration, promotion of technology is necessary for the following reasons:

  • It raises the profile of technology teachers.
  • Technology teachers are a 21st century learning resource.
  • Technology teachers are a great resource for differentiated learning strategies.
  • The technology problem-solving model, The Design Process, is an inquiry model.
  • Technology courses provide skills needed by the community (locally, regionally, provincially) and for students (as a career pathway).
  • It helps with long-range planning (equipment renewal, new course development, professional development, community needs, and program development).
  • Budgets and related costs can be discussed and allocated appropriately.
  • Declining enrolment is addressed.

How can you promote your program?

When promoting your technology program, always include administration in your conversations. This makes them part of the solution, and they will always have input. Be aware of what makes administration support a program, and ask their advice. Encourage your principal to invite an SO and trustee to visit. This is key, given the constant media coverage concerning the shortage of skilled individuals. It’s been a feature in the latest budget again, and emphasis is being put on it, with the new renaming of the MTCU to MAESD. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is now the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. That’s got to mean something.

Research and use a Labour Market Analysis to develop the statistics that back up the need for skilled trade and technology trained individuals in your area. The local Chamber of Commerce and organizations such as the Canadian Welding Association can assist with this. Not only will they provide information as to the needs of the community, they will also give you an idea as to the job market for your students.

These are some promotion examples.

Your promotion plan should concentrate on thinking about the following areas:

Curriculum and Facilities:

  • Review the condition of your area as a first-time visitor, and ask yourself if it presents you and your facility in a professional manner. Housekeeping and an environment that is ready to learn in shows a program that needs to stay and grow. Develop cross-curricular activities with other areas in support of their projects (e.g. work with physics students to complete a catapult project).
  • Support your department with clear goals and transparent communication prior to promotion events so that they know the game plan. Who can do what? Can we do a QR code link to something cool? Be creative and listen to the whole team’s ideas.
  • Show the new stuff you’re working with, but book kids to be there for the event to demonstrate.
  • Make sure your teaching messages in the department are clear and fair for students - ask them for feedback on how your department feels, looks and whether they like being in there. Sometimes the simplest questions yield the most interesting answers.

Marketing:

  • Have a clear-branded department logo - put it on your classroom doors and boards in the room, and teacher office door. Challenge the kids to animate it in a contest.
  • Create a photo collage of student projects and activities.
  • Use the daily announcements to run “commercials” e.g. did you know a construction engineer makes x dollars a year, did you know you can receive advance standing in a post-secondary program based on the tech courses you have taken and successfully completed?
  • Take pictures frequently and confirm media releases. Ensure the yearbook comes into your classrooms and labs frequently to show the students engaged in project work.
  • Something you can do also to make your physical load easier is to book some of the computer screens available, and do your presentation slideshows digitally on the available screens. Have an audio element in the background to attract. Put the videos, photos, and keywords into multiple presentations and playlists and have them be a dynamic background to you answering questions about your program.
  • Bring props and tools - have something that people have to do when they visit your booth.
  • Check out the edufactor.org videos and have something dynamic to show when people are walking in and checking out the other displays.
  • Have materials ready to show the academic core-subject teachers at staff meetings and explain how you are addressing literacy and numeracy alongside technacy
  • Do lunch and learns if they are in your budget, or ask for help from a program lead. See if they have swag they can pass on for you to use as discussion prizes.
  • Do a photo / bio of the teachers in your department and put it on the office door with the course codes. Print t-shirts with the course codes you have at your school in the tech area.
  • Support under served groups with special events to bring them in
  • Recognize equity requirements in the classroom. Are you welcoming to urban city kids and rural country kids? Do you have an Indigneous population that is not self-identifying? Can you bring in an elder to talk about technology concepts from that perspective? Unknowingly your department may be unintentionally excluding a group that would love to be in the room. Think about Rainbow Clubs, ESL students, the kids that stay as far away as possible as a group in your school. If you can, ask them why.

Community:

  • Present to the school council. Ask the school board technology education consultant to work with you to create a joint presentation. If you have a PowerPoint slide show it could be used here and at grade 8 and parent-teacher nights.
  • Bring in local guest speakers for technology areas. Invite local industry contacts. Connect with supports in your board for SHSM, OYAP, CO-OP, and any special programs that have a tech edge.
  • Celebrate when a student achieves with an award in outside the office signage, or a project display.
  • Have materials in multiple languages if possible.
  • Promote community-based projects through local media (e.g. building a wheelchair ramp for a disabled person, repairing a fence for a senior, have a seniors’ salon day with a cosmetology class).

Paul Fraser

Consultant for Science and Technology

Durham Catholic District School Board