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Successful Implementation of Probeware in Schools: Research-Based Tips and Guidelines

When schools adopt new technologies, effective implementation is crucial for success. This is particularly true for technology that is adopted specifically as an effort to support or expand teaching aligned with new standards. Based on the findings of our recent white paper, here are some essential tips and best practices to ensure successful integration and maximize the benefits of new technology in the classroom.

Shifting Classroom Culture

Probeware supports 3D learning and Framework-aligned standards by enabling students to take the lead in asking questions and conducting experiments. Educators shift from directing traditional “recipe-style” experiments with expected outcomes to facilitating inquiry-based learning. For classrooms where this is a new change, it can sometimes feel awkward for teachers and students alike.

Teachers must become comfortable assisting students with emergent outcomes of experiments and investigations. Likewise, students must learn to have productive conversations about their results. This requires teachers to build a culture of small-group conversations about the meaning of findings, which can be a challenge if teachers aren’t supported.

Tip: Professional development is key. Provide teachers with opportunities to practice these new skills in supportive environments that specifically address culture building in the classroom.

Supporting Teachers as Tech Leaders

When new technology is introduced, teachers often become the primary tech support for their students. This can be daunting, especially immediately after implementation. For example, in a sixth-grade field trip study, teachers expressed concern about their ability to manage the technology and devices when orchestrating the field trip on their own, without additional assistance.

This additional role can cause anxiety for already busy teachers. However, with the right resources and ongoing support, this concern is very manageable. This is an important investment, as teachers need to build students’ abilities to use new systems effectively.

Tip: Partner with reputable educational technology companies that offer tailored training and continuous support to teachers. This builds teacher confidence, reduces anxiety, and helps manage technological challenges.

Keeping Up with Software Updates

Even after becoming comfortable with new educational technologies, teachers need to stay current with new software updates, platform changes, and new tools. This ensures that students have the opportunity to engage in sensemaking of data through sophisticated computational thinking, using data-analysis platforms like Vernier Graphical Analysis®, spreadsheets, data visualization tools, or statistical computing languages—such as Python®.

Tip: Invest in continuous professional development. Support teachers with access to training on new tools and software updates to keep their skills current and help them confidently support students.

Contextualizing Data with Students

One common challenge is making sure students understand data quality. Data from probeware is not infallible, and teachers need strategies to develop critical awareness around variables that affect data quality. For example, research suggests that actively involving students in collecting measurements and collaboratively negotiating methods for taking measurements is one effective way to develop students’ critical awareness of data variability.

Another challenge that teachers can face when teaching with probeware is helping students make sense of data collected from remote probes. This means teachers need to find a way to contextualize the data, so students can connect it to real-world phenomena. One strategy is to involve students in setting up probes in outdoor locations, which can help connect data to the setting. If educators are using data from already-placed probes, then field trips, videos, or other approaches may be needed to help students make those connections.

Tip: Use a variety of approaches like field trips, videos, and real-world examples to help students make connections. Teach them to critically evaluate data quality and understand measurement variability. Engage in collaborative planning with other educators or professional development that addresses these ideas.

Building Quality Infrastructure

Effective use of probeware requires schools and districts to have an appropriate digital infrastructure, including reliable computers or devices, adequate software, and a fast enough internet connection. Investing in the right infrastructure can help increase the likelihood of program success and lead to stronger student outcomes.

Tip: Collaborate with an educational technology company that can help you to plan and develop the necessary infrastructure, ensuring seamless integration and long-term success.

Key Takeaway: High-Quality Teacher Professional Development Is Essential

Research is clear: Teachers use technology they have been trained to use and avoid technology they don’t understand. A recent study of secondary science teachers in New York state found that those who received more professional development on a particular tool used that tool regularly. However, the study also revealed that few teachers received this necessary support, and many expensive tools were underutilized. In short, professional development is essential.

Research also tells us that professional development efforts are most successful when it spans at least a full school year. In fact, longer training periods were associated with significant improvements in teaching practices and student learning outcomes, especially when teachers used probeware for full cycles of inquiry in training rather than brief, single-visit demonstrations.

How Vernier Commits to Supporting Schools

At Vernier, we understand the challenges and opportunities that come with implementing new technology in schools. Here’s how we support teachers, educational leaders, and administrators in successfully integrating probeware:

Intuitive, Easy-to-Use Products: We design our products, from probeware to software, with students and educators in mind, so teachers can seamlessly integrate them into classrooms with minimal troubleshooting. Our newest solution, Vernier Connections™, helps teachers deliver interactive, three-dimensional lessons through a fully integrated web-based platform. 

Customized Training Programs: We provide extensive professional development opportunities, ensuring teachers are confident and proficient in using our tools.

Ongoing Technical Support: Our award-winning technical support team is dedicated to offering continuous support to help teachers manage and troubleshoot any technological issues. Sign up for our monthly webinars or reach out to our team via phone, email, or web chat.

Robust Supporting Resources: In addition to training and technical support, we offer many resources to help teachers effectively use Vernier equipment, including videos (webinar recordings, tutorials, and tech tips), blog posts, educator success stories, and experiment ideas.

Infrastructure Planning: Vernier works closely with schools to develop the necessary infrastructure for effective probeware use, from ensuring adequate digital devices to managing large data sets securely.


Are you a district or school administrator looking for support?

By partnering with Vernier, schools can confidently adopt and implement probeware, knowing they have the support and resources needed for success. Contact our solutions team at solutions@vernier.com and let’s move forward in science, together.

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