Category Archives: ISTE coaching standard 4

The Reflection Cycle & Teacher Development

This week in the Digital Education Leadership program, we continued our exploration of ISTE Coaching Standard 4B: “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.” (Iste.org 2017) This is my 4th post exploring this standard. I’ve previously considered how to use the workshop model to implement effective technology-focused professional development, how to incorporate self-assessment as a best practice for applying new knowledge, and how to include elements of active learning when planning professional development sessions. My focus for this post is on the role that administrators play in the process of professional development.

When considering the role administrators should play in professional development, issues such as funding, resources, and time management to accommodate teacher release come to mind. These components are practical and necessary, but they often occur behind the scenes and are not likely to make teachers feel independently supported and heard. As a high school teacher, I asked myself what my administration could do to best support me in my growth as related to technology professional development. Above all, I want a choice in what I learn and how I learn it. I also want support in that endeavor, which is where administration comes in!

The Reflection Cycle is a way that administrators can require teachers to pursue professional development while giving teachers the autonomy in what and how they learn. My school uses the Reflection Cycle as a tool for evaluation and development. Teachers must choose two goals to pursue. One is completely up to the teacher and the other must be rooted in a goal developed by a teacher’s PLC. While not traditionally used to implement technology-based development and growth, I believe the Reflection Cycle is ideal for that exact purpose.

The Reflection Cycle method meets the needs of adult learners in two keys ways. The most important way is in giving teachers a choice in what they would like to pursue. For technology-focused development, this might be an exploration that is oriented around a particular tool or learning goal. By allowing teachers to make this choice, there is inherent intrinsic motivation. The other key way in which the Reflection Cycle supports adult learners is by allowing teachers a choice in how to pursue their goal. Some teachers may have an exact solution in mind (“I’d like to attend X training.”) while others may need the support of a coach or peer to find a solution (“I’m interested in student blogging, but have no idea where to start.”). Just as we aim for differentiated instruction with our students, we should also differentiate for teachers.

While the particulars of the Reflection Cycle vary by institution, most cycles tend to follow Kolb’s Four Elements of Experiential Learning:

  1. concrete experience
  2. reflection
  3. abstract conceptualization
  4. active experimentation

This particular model of learning is cyclical or ” ‘iterative’ because [it is] based on a repeating, but continually evolving and improving, cycle of learning.” (Scales, 2008, p. 12)

The concrete experience is the classroom practice that a teacher chooses to focus on. For the Reflection Cycle, this might be a specific lesson, learning strategy, or a broader topic like a class policy. For applying the Reflection Cycle to technology, this concrete experience could stem from a particular tool (OneNote), a skill set (online research), or a need (student collaboration). Additionally, teachers could be asked to select one of the ISTE teacher standards to focus on.

The next step in the Cycle is reflection. Reflection asks the teacher to think critically about the concrete experience. This might include guiding questions such as:

  • what were my students learning goals?
  • how did I teach the content?
  • what went well?
  • what could be improved on?
  • what did my students take away from this lesson/project/tool?
  • did I meet the needs of ALL learners?

Particular to technology, you might ask the following:

  • did technology enhance this content? (or, if not currently used) could technology enhance this content?
  • how would this content change if I were to use a different digital tool?
  • what elements of 21st century learning could I bring into this content?
  • are there additional opportunities for collaboration that I bring into this content?

In the abstract conceptualization stage of the Reflection Cycle, teachers are given the opportunity to explore solutions to the needs they identified in the previous step. As mentioned earlier, some teachers know where to go to identify resources while others may need additional help and guidance. Solutions can vary widely by the teacher and the goal. Goals might include attending a conference, release time to observe mentor teachers, digital or print resources, funding of a particular tool, meeting with a coach, or participating in a webinar. During this stage it is critical that administrators provide support for the agreed upon solution.

The final stage in the Reflection Cycle is active experimentation. Teachers have an opportunity to apply their newfound knowledge and determine the impact on student learning. Accountability at this stage should be pre-determined by the teacher and administrator: Is there going to be a formal observation? Will student data be collected? This is also an ideal time for the teacher to meet with peers to share the experience.

Of course the beauty of the Reflection Cycle is that once you complete the last stage, you can begin again as you continually refine and improve on your practice as a teacher.

You might be asking yourself what this looks like on a practical level. How can an administrator with dozens of teachers to oversee manage this type of independent, self-driven professional development? My school has experienced success with the SMART goal template. Administration uses the SMART template to support teachers in creating Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based goals. As teachers, we meet with administration throughout the Cycle in order to stay accountable, access resources, and share both challenges and successes. In my five years of teaching in two states, this is by far the best way that I have seen professional development implemented and I’m excited for the potential to use this technique specific to technology-related development.

SMART-goals

Sources:

Scales, P. (2008). Teaching in the lifelong learning sector. Maidenhead:
     McGraw-Hill/Open University Press.

The Role of Self-Assessment in Professional Development

Self-assessment is a powerful tool that encourages learners to take responsibility for their own learning. Taking a moment to reflect on learned content and future application supports retention and promotes metacognition. I have used self-assessment with my students with great success. As I pondered what angle to approach ISTE Coaching Standard 4B this week (Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.), it struck me that I’d never been asked to assess myself following a professional development session. This realization led me to wonder what role self-assessment could play in effective professional development.

Self-assessment Process

Self-assessment is a three-part process. The first step requires reflection on the intended learning goals of a class, presentation, concept, etc. Juvenile learners may need to be prompted to reflect on a particular goal while adult learners should be able to pull out key points. Next, the learner should evaluate their own learning in conjunction with the goal: Was the goal met; how do you know? The final piece is reflecting on future learning: How will I apply this knowledge in the future? This is a simplified example, but I’ve found that most self-assessments follow this general structure.

Source: Dorothy Spiller Assessment Matters

Professional Development Applications

Despite research supporting the efficacy of self-assessment, few resources exist linking self-assessment explicitly to professional development. The research outlined below deals with two aspects of self-assessment: the type that happens immediately after a professional development session and a more extensive self-assessment that occurs later once teachers have had a chance to implement the knowledge. While a bit aged (1999), the rationale behind the study is solid and the results show that self-assessment can support teachers in implementing new content and strategies from workshops into their classroom practices.

The professional development at the focus of this study was entitled PEERS (Promoting Educational Excellence Regionally and Statewide) and was developed by the Nebraska Math and Science Initiative. The stated purpose of the PEERS 2-week long workshop was “to increase teacher understanding of mathematical and scientific processes, improve teaching methods in math and science, and create a supportive network for systemic change in the state.” (Wise et al., 1999) Teachers were placed into groups by grade-level and sessions were created and hosted by lead teachers who had undergone 5-week residential training institutes. Goals, activities, and lessons were tailored by grade-level. Participating teachers attended an additional follow-up session once the school year began.

As with many professional development workshops, teachers were asked at the end to evaluate the workshop’s effectiveness of meeting intended learning goals. While the immediate feedback was positive, the study’s authors recognized that this feedback “indicated that they were effective in delivering the intended content and experiences…this evaluation provided only indirect information regarding the extent to which teachers can use these new skills in their classrooms. It provided no information concerning whether the teachers had translated their workshop experiences into their classroom practices.” (Wise et al., 1999) This is such an important distinction to make!

To gather a complete picture of the effectiveness of the PEERS workshops, facilitators conducted a follow-up in the form of open-ended reflective questions. The questions were purposely designed to not copy the wording of the immediate assessment. Instead, evaluators coded the open-ended responses based on whether a workshop strategy was ‘explicitly stated or easily inferred.’ The following eight questions were used by teachers as a self-assessment:

  • 1. Please describe the new lesson/unit or teaching strategy you tried.
  • 2. How does this lesson/unit relate to the national standards or Nebraska frameworks?
  • 3. What were your objectives/goals in the lesson or strategy you used? (Why did you decide to use a new strategy or lesson?)
  • 4. Did students respond differently than in a typical lesson?
  • 5. What evidence did you see of differences in student learning or student attitudes? (Student comments? Student work? Assessments? Attach examples if desired.)
  • 6. Will you do this lesson again?
  • 7. What modifications will you make and why?
  • 8. What have you learned from this experience?

The following table shows the percentages of teachers across high school, middle school, and elementary who implemented aspects of the workshop goals into their classrooms:

Source: Vicki Wise et al “Using Teacher Reflective Practice…”

While many of the results were very encouraging, this study is also interesting in terms of the gaps that exist between immediate self-assessment at the end of a workshop and later implementation. For example, 84% of high school teachers reported at the end of the PEERS workshop that they were able to implement technology successfully into lessons. After the later reflection, only 48% of those teachers had actually made a change based on the workshop and included technology in a lesson.

Another benefit of this study is seeing a conclusive link between professional development and classroom practice. As stated by the authors, “This reflective practice approach to evaluation provides a clear link between a significant professional development activity and classroom practice.” (Wise et al., 1999)

Sources

Spiller, D. (2012, February). Assessment Matters: Self-Assessment and Peer
Assessment. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from University of Waikato
     website: https://kennslumidstod.hi.is/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/
     assessment-matters-self-assessment-and-peer-assessment.pdf

Wise, Vicki L.; Spiegel, Amy N.; and Bruning, Roger H., “Using Teacher Reflective Practice to Evaluate Professional Development in Mathematics and Science” (1999). Educational Psychology Papers and Publications. 184. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/edpsychpapers/184

Workshop Model for Professional Development: Factors for Success

For today’s post, I’d like to take an in-depth look at a perennial favorite of those hosting professional development for teachers: the workshop model. When you think of a workshop outside of the education world, you probably picture a full day, hands-on session learning how to lay laminate flooring or perhaps weekly evening classes on water coloring. Whatever comes to mind, I’d venture to say it is prolonged and requires active learning. I doubt anyone would attend a workshop that featured someone lecturing at you for an hour while you try your best to stay awake! Unfortunately, workshops in the world of education often look like the latter example. As educators, we need to make sure workshops are places of active learning where teachers have multiple exposures to content.

Despite the popularity of workshop-based professional development (one study showed over 90% participation nationwide), research does not show a link between the traditional, once and done workshop model and student achievement. In an extensive report completed by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest for the Institute of Education Services, researchers combed through over 1,300 studies on teacher professional development to find links between teacher development and student achievement. Ultimately, the studies which had the lowest number of hours of professional development using the workshop model (5-14 total) showed no statistical impact on student achievement. Conversely, in studies where teachers received an average of 49 hours of professional development using the workshop model, students’ performance was boosted by 21 percentile points. (Yoon et al, 2007)

Case Study: University of Toledo

While researching ways in which the workshop model can support ISTE coaching standard 4B (“Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model[s] principles of adult learning and promote[s] digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment”), I came across a detailed case study that outlined the evolution of one college’s program from the traditional workshop model to one that was more robust and responsive to teacher needs.

This study, published in 2005, examined the evolution and subsequent effectiveness of the workshop model for technology-related professional development. The test subjects were university professors interested in incorporating more technology into their courses. The project, ‘Teachers Info-Port to Technology,’ began with a traditional professional development workshop model in year 1 and then incorporated new strategies and follow-up support in year 2. Additional ideas were implemented for year 3 and beyond.

In the first year, professors participating in the program self-divided into two groups based on platform preference (Mac vs PC). They then attended eleven sessions, some targeted to a specific area such as digital portfolios. The sessions were intentionally designed following the workshop model where part of the class was spent on content and the remainder on application. Interestingly (and in line with the findings of Yoon et al), the session with the most lecture time and least hands-on application time was ranked least helpful by attendees.

The effectiveness of the year 1 program was measured by participant surveys, course syllabi comparison (to see if additional technology had been implemented), and faculty discussions. Based on the three data sets, seven areas of improvement were identified:

  • Depth: more time spent on fewer technologies
  • Hands-on Practice: at least 50% of workshop spent on practice/creation
  • Project-based Approach: focus on practical products, follow from start to finish
  • Modeling: demonstrate classroom applications
  • Examples: use specific content areas, resources and templates
  • Ongoing Assessment: short modules, frequent assessments
  • Timesavers: access to templates and copyright-free visuals, review sheets

A second group of professors participated in the modified workshops held in year 2. These workshops incorporated feedback from the first group and resulted in even higher rates of self-reported ability to utilize new technology. Additionally, participants viewed the sessions more favorably than the first group with some even wishing the workshops were longer. Based on the data from this second group, two more areas of improvement were added to the program:

  • Differentiation: additional one-on-one assistance, additional smaller workshops tailored to a specific need
  • Expanded opportunities: observe colleagues, mentorship opportunities, cohort groups for collaboration

In addition to the nine factors identified in the study, there are other implications for the workshop model that we can derive from the study:

Effective professional development is ongoing

The professional development occurred over a long period of time. Each test group met eleven times over the course of the school year, requiring a great investment of time and resources on the part of both administrators and participating professors. This prolonged exposure contributed to the success of the project. Research shows that the critical stage of professional development is not the initial concept attainment, but rather the ongoing implementation: “mastery comes only as a result of continuous practice despite awkward performance and frustration in the early stages.” (Gulamhussein, 2013) Later in the study, even more support was added in the form of one-on-one assistance and mentorships.

Effective professional development is responsive to teacher needs

Another important element of success was the responsive nature of the professional development. Changes were made based on participant feedback in order to provide a better experience for participants. In addition to giving teachers what they need content-wise, this practice also communicates respect for participants which boosts morale and investment in future sessions.

Effective professional development includes plenty of time for hands-on application

Teachers responded best when given adequate time to try out the new concept or tool presented at each training. Sessions where teachers were asked to bring existing content for modification using the new tool worked best. In response to feedback, the study implemented a standard of dedicating at least half of future sessions to application.

Effective professional development rewards teachers for their time

A final factor was the extrinsic support participants received. Professors willing to participate were granted either a stipend or release of course assignment in exchange for their time. We often assume adult learners should be motivated solely by intrinsic means, but this case study shows that compensation for participants’ sacrifice of time can be equally important.

Sources:

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers: Effective professional development. Retrieved February 5, 2019, from Center for Public Education website: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/research/teaching-teachers-effective-professional-development

Teclehaimanot, B., & Lamb, A. (2005). Technology-rich faculty development for teacher educators: The evolution of a program. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 5(3/4). Retrieved from https://www.citejournal.org/volume-5/issue-3-05/current-practice/technology-rich-faculty-development-for-teacher-educators-the-evolution-of-a-program

Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W.-Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007–No. 033). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs

Active Learning & Professional Development

Recently I implemented a brand-new digital tool to aid my high school students in organizing their research and citing their sources properly. The tool had just recently been purchased by my school and this was the first time both my students and I would be utilizing the tool for a major project. To roll out this new tool, I asked my school’s digital literacy educator (think, 21st Century Librarian) to come by and walk students through the registration and process of first use. As she projected each step of the process onto my Smartboard, I walked around and made sure students were able to follow along. Then students followed step by step as we went through citations, research, and note-taking. Despite a few minor bumps, we were off to a great start within a short amount of time.

This experience happened to coincide with this week’s research question for my 6106 class: how can tech coaches and administrators balance delivery of content and the opportunity for hands-on application and practice when introducing teachers to a new digital tool or platform? There is no way I would introduce a digital tool to my students without allowing them the opportunity to walk beside me and experiment with the new tool. You can probably imagine the lack of success and confusion if I had shown students a PowerPoint introducing the tool and then asked them to go home and give it a try. Why then do we use this method when introducing teachers to a new digital tool?

The guiding adult learning principle at play when we consider how to balance content delivery and application is the principle of active learning. Though the particular percentages assigned to learning activities in Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience have been debated (see here), most educators would agree that active learning is far more beneficial than passive learning.

Jeffrey Anderson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Passive learning through lectures, reading from assigned texts, or outlining content are still prevalent in higher education and teacher trainings despite evidence that supports active learning: “Long-term retention, understanding, and transfer is result of mental work on the part of learners who are engaged in active sense-making and knowledge construction … learning environments are most effective when they elicit effortful cognitive processing from learners and guide them in constructing meaningful relationships between ideas rather than encouraging passive recording of information.” (Lynch, 2017)

According to educational researcher Dr. Jay Lynch, three of the most powerful ways to incorporate active learning into instruction include production of ideas over passive collection, integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge, and frequent opportunities to engage with new content.

As technology coaches, administrators, and innovative teachers consider methods of professional development, I would argue that active learning should be a guiding principle when “Design[ing], develop[ing], and implement[ing] technology rich professional learning programs.” (Iste.org, 2017)

So what might this look like on a practical level when introducing a new tool or platform? In researching possible answers to this question, I discovered the ITPD3 Framework as introduced at the 2015 ISTE Conference by Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur, Sara Dempster, and Cammie Claytor.

ITPD3 is an interesting approach to technology professional development that attempts to clarify and systematize what ‘relevant, timely, and meaningful’ PD looks like. Previously I’ve explored what effective professional development looks like, but I’d struggled to find a tangible tool/framework to guide educators.

The ITPD3 Framework (ITPD = Instructional Technology Professional Development) features three leaders, three levels, and three steps (hence, the 3 at the end of the acronym). Here’s what it looks like:

  • The three leaders each take on a level of tech adopter to teach: early, intermediate, and advanced. Interested teachers opt into the group based on their comfort level.
  • The leader then identifies an area of focus for the group based on teachers’ needs/interests.
  • From there, training occurs in three steps:
    • 1) “flipped” screencast tutorial with instructions for any registration or preparation work that should occur prior to the PD session
    • 2) small group PD session with goal of integrating newfound tech tool/skill into upcoming lesson plans, also providing opportunity to ask clarifying questions and collaborate
    • 3) follow-up with resources and artifacts published in iBook or website form for teachers to refer back to

Here’s what I love about this model (not to mention how it incorporates best practices in adult learning):

  • CHOICE: teachers get to select the tool or resource they want to explore
  • DIFFERENTIATION: by allowing teachers to opt into groups by level, coaches can better meet individual needs and increase efficiency by not going over the basics for more advanced teachers
  • EFFICIENCY: “flipped learning” is a buzzword for students, yet it works wonderfully for teachers in this framework; time is saved when all teachers are registered and familiar with the site or tool before meeting
  • MULTIPLIER EFFECT: the last step in the ITPD3 process calls for coaches to design a tutorial that teachers can refer back to along with additional resources and examples from teachers who have gone through the cycle; this resource can be shared with new teachers or those who weren’t able to participate

For educators and coaches looking to move away from the ineffective lecture model of technology professional development, the ITPD3 framework offers an interesting solution that balances the need for content delivery and hands-on application while incorporating vital principles of adult learning such as choice and relevancy.

Sources:

Lynch, J., Dr. (2017, October 25). What does research say about active learning? Retrieved January 19, 2019, from Pearson Higher Education website: https://www.pearsoned.com/research-active-learning-students/

Vavasseur, C., Dempster, S., & Claytor, C. (2015, June 23). A PD approach that educators love (and learn from!) [Blog post]. Retrieved from ISTE Professional Development Blog: https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=446

EDTC 6106 – 5 Components of Professional Development with Techology

During the final week of this quarter, we are summing up what are the main aspects of professional development utilizing technology.  Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation: Design, develop and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. (ISTE, 2014)

  • Triggering Event Initial Question: What does the ideal technology-rich learning program look like?
  • My Triggering Question: What are top five specific areas that will contribute to a rich professional learning program?

Throughout the last few weeks, we have been delving into different aspects of professional development and educational technology and I’ve come to learn a lot of about what is essential in creating effective ones.  The following are five areas that I believe are important in accomplishing that goal.

Set a Vision with Stakeholders

From the conclusion page from the Office of Educational Technology it states:

“Set a vision for the use of technology to enable learning such that leaders bring all stakeholder groups to the table, including students, educators, families, technology professionals, community groups, cultural institutions, and other interested parties”. (Office of Educational Technology, 2017)

Just this last weekend I was involved in a technology vision summit for my school district where we did just what the above quote is talking about.  Teachers, administrators, parents, students, business partner, and community groups all came together for a six hour period and we created “A Day in the Life” sketches of how students would be utilizing technology.  It was an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening experience witnessing this diverse group of people coming together to create a shared vision of technology for our students.

I believe that effective professional development first starts at a district level where all stakeholders are given a voice to what they wish to see in schools and from there a plan can be put into place in schools.  This will help to increase buy-in from all parties and will enable continued support from teachers, parents, schools, etc.

Establish Learning Goals and Select Technology Around That

Calcasieu Parish Public Schools have learned that one way of creating effective professional development is to only select technology that supports their learning goals instead of the other way around.  By selecting technology around goals schools will be able to increase student achievement and a clear plan can be put into place.  The alternative is to pick technology and force the curriculum into it which may or may not support the building goals. (Hunter, 2016)

Provide Continued Training and Support

“Rowan-Salisbury relies heavily on “job-embedded” professional development delivered by instructional technology specialists in each school, who provide training and support specifically tailored to the needs of individual teachers…”  (Hunter, 2016)

Another school district, Rowan-Salisbury in North Carolina talks about how creating job-embedded professional development can support teachers.  They advocate providing professional development during the school day as well as providing continuing support for technology that is implemented.

In my experience talking with teachers, they feel that new technology is introduced but there is often little to no follow-up and they don’t feel supported enough to keep using it or would like to take it further.  Continued training seems to be a key aspect for them to be more effective in their teaching practices.

Provide Assessments

Without assessments, it’s hard to determine if progress is being made.  The Office of Educational Technology states that an integrated assessment system should be put in place to provide data and feedback to stakeholders in a way that is timely and actionable.  With this data, schools can make decisions about whether student growth is happening and can change professional development accordingly.  A mobile-first mindset for this is emphasized so that feedback can be widely accessible.  (Office of Educational Technology, 2017)

Create Strong and Trusting Relationships

An evaluative report named Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State, listed “Strong and trusting relationships among professionals provide for collaborative systems” as one of the recommendations for future practices (Bishop, 2016).  Although this could be applied to any type of professional development, I feel that creating trusting relationships is sometimes overlooked and if we want teachers to collaborate with each other to deepen their learning, then fostering a positive environment is essential.

Conclusion

Although there are many more important aspects of an effective technology-rich professional development session, these are the five that stood out to me initially.  In the future, I hopefully will be able to put all that I’ve learned over this quarter into practice while designing professional development as it’s an area I am especially excited about.


Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

Hunter, J. (2016, June 22). Technology Starts with Professional Development and Training. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/06/technology-starts-professional-development-and-training

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Office of Educational Technology. (2017). Conclusion. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/conclusion/

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In the DEL program course, Professional Development & Program Evaluation, we’re challenged with exploring best practices in educational technology professional development all while referencing the ISTE Coaching Standards. Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation specifically has us consider how educational technology coaches design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of […]

EDTC 6106: ISTE Coaching Standard 4b: Creating and Maintaining a Technology Rich Professional Learning Program

ISTE Coaching Standard 4 provides three benchmarks for technology coaches to conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning. My focus is on performance indicator b: Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult

Finding Synergy in Professional Learning

Photo Credit:CNA Finance

ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

Performance Indicator B

  • Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

 

For the final blog post of this quarter, our cohort explores the triggering event of: what the ideal technology rich professional learning program look like. To me, this is a question that culminates all of our learning from this quarter of exploring professional development and program evaluation. We’ve investigated adult learning, best practices within PD and how to get support and give support to all stakeholders involved, whether it be teachers, teacher leaders or administration. The question I developed branches off onto a very similar path. I was curious what characteristics make up a well rounded technology rich professional learning program. It is very similar to our triggering event, but I wanted to focus on what aspects really equally rounded out a program.

Amazingly, I struggled to find a single resources that encompassed everything I was trying to portray. At the same time, I was trying to find an angle that I hadn’t really touched on yet with my previous blog posts this quarter. I know that every characteristic I have explored has its role in producing technology rich PD, but I thought that there had to be another component I had yet to learn about.

During my search, I came across an article by Brad Adams and Dr. Sophie Winlaw titled “ Finding Synergy Between Technology-Rich Tools And Authentic Collaboration To Enable Powerful Professional Learning.” I had heard the term ‘synergy’ in the past. To me, it meant the cooperation or mix of two or more things. I thought wow, this is a great term to use when talking about adult learning and quality PD.

A lot of the article’s focus mentioned online collaboration and PD. It was also based on the platform of a group called CIRCLE (Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity &  Leadership in Education) so a lot of the writing was tied back into the group and what tools and resources they provided. However, there were several things that stood out to me that were entirely applicable to what I was exploring.

“Global research tells us that the best professional learning for teachers is school‐based, collaborative, relational, authentic and embedded into practice. In recent years, technology has transformed professional learning, offering an array of tools to interrogate and improve practice; however these are sometimes at the expense of the crucial element of authentic and rich human collaboration” (Adams, Winlaw 2016).

The above quote sums up the important characteristics of quality professional learning, along with everything we have been learning about this quarter. Adding technology to this learning has become powerful and a way to transform learning to another level, but all of this cannot be at the expense of that element of human collaboration. PD needs to be designed and developed in a way that showcases all of these elements together working in harmony.

These components working together ensure that “professional learning is experiential for the participant, with practical outcomes for the school. In this way, the synergy of innovative technology and creative community makes for hugely productive and effective professional learning” (Adams, Winlaw 2016).

Like I mentioned, most of the article mentioned these ideas through online professional learning, but the components that stood out to me seem like they would be even more powerful in a face to face learning environment. I think that finding that synergy between technology and a rich collaborative community is really a way to create well rounded technology rich professional learning.

Resources:

Adams, B., & Winlaw, S., Dr. (2016, February 17). Finding Synergy Between Technology-Rich Tools And Authentic Collaboration To Enable Powerful Professional Learning. Retrieved March 13, 2017, from http://blog.circle.education/finding-synergy-between-technology-rich-tools-and-authentic-collaboration-to-enable-powerful-professional-learning-2

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ISTE Coaching Standard 4 provides three benchmarks for technology coaches to conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning. My focus is on performance indicator b: Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult