Integrating technology into learning and teaching is a complex and demanding process.
Teachers and lecturers need effective professional development in order to transform learning and teaching with technology. Ineffective professional development is a waste of resources and may even have a negative effect by de-motivating and discouraging teachers. This narrative illustrates some of the issues and problems experienced by teachers.
What is good practice in this area? Professional development for teaching with learning technologies should be sustained, collaborative, experiential, relevant, situated, and evaluated.
- Professional development should be sustained over time – one-off work shops may provide for training in technical skills but do not allow teachers to effectively change their practice.
- It should be incremental, allowing teachers to build on their skills and experience over time.
- It should incorporate long-term strategies in addition to workshops – for example mentoring, coaching and other forms of support over time to allow teachers to incrementally develop skills and expertise in incorporating the technology into teaching and learning.
- Professional development should be closely integrated with collaborative planning of how technology is incorporated into teaching and learning. It should also involve collaborative planning of the professional development process itself: this will help ensure its relevance for the range of needs.
- It should involve sharing of good practice in the organisation or teaching team to allow those who are advanced in incorporating technology into learning to share their expertise with the rest of the team.
- Many schools around the world have made very effective use of expert students as technical support providers to teachers . This allows the teachers to focus on the educational use of technology.
- Professional development should be experiential and provide direct hands-on experience in using the technology.
- Experiential professional development also depends on reflection: teachers need to reflect on the their hands-on experience and their developing skills and expertise.
- Professional development should be curriculum focused, with strong links to the curriculum and how teachers can incorporate the technology in meeting the needs of students
- It should be focused on outcomes – ie focused on what specifically the teachers will be able to do achieve in terms of enhancing learning and supporting the needs of learners.
- it should be targeted and allow for the diverse range of skills and expertise amongst the teaching staff. For example, there will be teachers who are early adopters as well as teachers who are resistors or technophobes.
- It should be realistic and avoid hype: it needs to acknowledge limitations and potential issues as well as the benefits.
- Professional development should be located within the organisation rather than externally. External people can be engaged as consultants and advisors but as collaborators rather than ‘outside experts’.
- External organisations can be useful as exemplars, but need to be understood from inside and at ‘ground level’, not just as a high-level or impressionistic aspirational model.
- Professional development should be evaluated effectively. While it’s useful to get feedback from workshop participants on their immediate impressions, it’s essential to also evaluate the overall effectiveness of the professional development in transforming practice. Evaluation at levels 3 and 4 of Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model should be considered.
Kolvoord, R (no date). What Happens After the Professional Development: Case Studies on Implementing GIS in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://spatiallearning.org/publications_pdfs/kolvoord_GISbook.pdf
Left, P (2011). PD Scenario. Retrieved from http://www.verso.co.nz/mw/index.php?title=Stories/5
Unknown authors (no date). Donald Kirkpatrick. Retireved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Kirkpatrick
Vrasidas, C (2010). Why Don’t Teachers Adopt Technology? Retrieved from http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=1785590