Professional development of teachers, especially in relation to integrating learning technology into the curriculum, is problematic. This scenario is intended to initiate discussion of some key issues and principles involved – what can go wrong? How do we ensure that professional development is effective?
Q: Mary, tell us about your school’s learning technology project…
Mary: Well, we’re meant to be using blogs in the classroom as part of our learning units. So if we’re doing a unit on families and communities, say, there’s a blog where what we find out is recorded on the blog with words and pictures, maybe even some videos of interviews. I guess the purpose is to make sure students develop some skills in using the technology…
Q: You say you are ‘meant to be using blogs’ – how is it working for you?
Mary: To be honest, I haven’t got started with it. I know some of the other teachers are probably doing great things – they’re very confident with using the technology but I’m a bit out of my depth. Sometimes I think the kids know a lot more than I do – scary! And I’m not sure how I’d manage the whole process, whether I’d need to upload everything into the blog or just let the kids do it.
Q: What professional development have you had?
Mary: We had a training session at the end of last year. Someone came in and did a demo of what you can do with a blog – I think it was a high school they had worked with, amazing stuff. They were obviously a real expert but some of it went over my head a bit, and I couldn’t really see how it would work in my classroom.
Since then I haven’t had a chance to get started with using blogs – the start of the year is very busy and stressful. But now the term is underway I’ll give it a go – maybe this weekend if I can remember what she showed us. It’s just a matter of sitting down and putting in some serious time – maybe I could check out the public library to see if they have any books on blogging. It’s all a bit daunting but I need to get started before my performance review at the end of term!
Photo: U.S. Census Bureau