For maximum impact, personalize teachers' tech professional development
Technology is redefining how students learn at school and at home, but teachers must first know how to use — and teach others to use — the tools available to them, Saint Leo University education professor Candace Roberts writes in an op-ed for The Hechinger Report.
Since 2008, the university’s education department has included instruction on a variety of technology tools as part of its pre-service program for teachers, teaching them the four levels of tech integration in the classroom: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition.
- The university also holds a summer institute to invite veteran teachers to learn how to use some of the latest tools that were not available when they went into teaching.
One-size-fits-all professional development no longer meets teachers’ needs. Giving them a voice in what and how they want to learn can create personalized professional learning experiences that are more likely to have an impact on their practice in the classroom. With technology, for example, some teachers are far more comfortable than others with today’s tools, so it makes sense to adapt training opportunities to what teachers already know and what they want to know.
Research shows that ongoing support for teachers through coaching and having opportunities to learn “with" and not just about technology are effective methods for integrating tech into learning. Because district- and school-based technology specialists are often overwhelmed, it’s important to empower teachers to support each other in using the latest apps, programs and equipment. Partnerships with IT companies, universities and public libraries can give teachers opportunities to learn and advance their technology skills.