I posted a question from a reader under my Dear Otto column, where she asked how other schools handled tech training. When I get questions like that, I repost to my PLN so I can get a broad cross-section of input from technology professionals.
I want to share the answers I received so you can benefit as much as I have from what happens around the world when it comes to technology training for teaching professionals:
Sandra–Since our school implemented the Moodle platform, that is the PD available and given by the IT Coordinator. It is given after school, in teacher’s own free time and at that time many teachers are not available as they are tutoring or doing after school sports, so I would say the time the PD is given is not very appropriate. More PD options should be available (not just Moodle) to smaller groups of teachers depending on their needs.
Janet (at Expat Educator)–Our school doesn’t have many PD days dedicated to tech. We’ve gotten around it using a “1:1 Student-as-Teacher” model. My teaching partner or I do something new with technology (like make Google sites or introduce Prezis). The tech lessons are always in relation to a content learning objective – not teaching tech for the sake of tech. Then, our students go to another class and teach the next class. When our students “teach” other students, they are not allowed to touch the other’s computer. They must use language to describe the location of icons, they can point, or they can model processes with their own computers. It’s interesting to watch the students struggle to communicate in such an authentic way. And, more students get to experiment with some of the wonderful tech tools that are available.
Dan (who’s a consultant working with teachers)-–Our consulting team of Goodwin and Sommervold knows from first hand experience that little to no tech training takes place in the vast majority of schools we work with.
Elisa Gopin • I’m not pushing my service here, just explaining my philosophy 🙂 I started my website Teacher-Tech-Training.com to deal with this exact issue – unless you apply the skills as soon you learn them, they are quickly forgotten. I’m creating a series of courses for teachers where the final project is a practical application of whatever we’ve been learning about, so that by the time you’ve finished the course you’ve already applied the skills, made some mistakes, gotten feedback, and generally had time to think about what you’re learning. Some districts have regular training days, ie once a month, and will pay for teachers to take some facilitated training to really encourage them to use what they’re learning. California in general is good about this, as far as I know.
jason ford • The academic week at the school I am at goes from Monday to Friday, leaving Fridays for faculty. We schedule most of our workshops on those days. At the school I was at in Texas, we had the 12:30-1:30 time dedicated as Dead hours on Tuesday and Thursdays for professional development. Similar to Elisa’s comment, we also have a website where we post our workshop archives and any resources we find for faculty. We also have an online repository of video recorded sessions that faculty can view anytime. We use panopto for that.
Jacki Kratz • PD during school day is just impossible with what PA schools are trying to do. (RTII, L-F, Common Core, PSSA prep) I would suggest determining what kind of tech training you need. Two groups – Hardware and Software. The Software side of things can be included in to curriculum PD and state standards PD. More money is given to schools for curriculum development. If you separate your tech software out of the equation, you might be able to do 2 days of tech PD for the hardware (like demo of doc cameras, demo of IWB features, demo of assessment clickers, and so on). Also compiling a list of tutorial videos that can be accessed by teachers whether at home or at work will also help for your teachers to become knowledgeable in certain tech areas. Creating Tech Facilitators who are teachers that are willing to go to demos and trainings and then come back and help teachers is another way to cut down on PD days. Our very small elementary school used our monthly meetings for an hour of PD.
Michael Fricano II • Our state doesn’t really provide much in the way of Professional Development time (currently). They cut our PD days back to only 2 for the past two years and for next year due to budget cuts (yadda yadda). Our 2 PD days are scheduled right before school starts and because of all of the RTTT and state initiatives, there is absolutely no time for Tech PD. My fellow Tech Coordinator and I plan after school workshops for teachers who are willing to learn and participate. The only incentive they receive is a new skill. We can’t offer stipend or credits, because no money is available.
Deb Socia • As a long time principal, I must say that there has never been productive professional development (that lead to a desired impact) delivered in my schools by outside providers in a one day or two day stand and deliver format. Instead, I used that $ to send my teachers out to be trained as experts in a variety of fields – both content and pedagogical. We then had experts that were available every day to answer questions as they come up. They also convened a group of interested people and created a “leadership team” on the topic. This team was available to support their peers in the area of their expertise. Our PD was traditionally led by these experts. An example of an innovative PD session we created was our “bagels and laptops” – every Friday, an in-house expert on some aspect of integrating technology into the classroom (it is a 1:1 school) would present on a topic (like vocab development) and train his/her peers. All it cost me was a plate of bagels and some coffee. It was well attended and led to much deeper penetration and significant impact on student engagement and achievement. One small drawback was that my experts often ended up getting hired into other leadership roles! However, the staff really loved the idea that there were pathways within our building if they were interested in becoming leaders. As a result, our school ended up attracting lots of teachers with leadership potential. When a leader left, there was always someone ready and willing to take his/her place. BTW, I did give the experts a small stipend for their efforts. We had great success with this approach.
Dr Bhuban Chandra Mahapatra • Learning should be from insight and learning technology and it’s implementation in classroom by the teacher need interest, aptitude and attitude towards ICT in Teacher education. It does not mean position of the teacher
D Anderson • I created an Edmodo site and post everything there as a refresher. I can also create quizzes if needed. I can place videos there, documents, etc. If a personal refresher is needed, teachers submit a School Dude request and we will schedule a time to meet.
Dan Sitter • Our district put together a technology team made up of 4 former teachers, myself included. We are going to a 1 to 1 environment next year, so we have sketched out a complete site using our LMS that every teacher has access to. We also met with and interviewed all of our teachers to see what they could do, what they wanted to do, and how we could help get them there.
We also have collaborative time in the morning which we’ve dedicated to tech training, as well as have one day a week (minimum) of appointment slots that teachers can sign up for and get individualized training as well. We’ve seen some massive growth in the staff, and are excited about making that continue.
Please add any more thoughts to the comments section.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and three ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.