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.
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.
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/