I did an article several months ago about technology professional development and ready-to-use lessons being one way to support teachers implementation entitled Teachers and #Edtech – REady-to-use Lessons Can be A Support. Obviously, this is only one of many things schools and education leaders can do to help support technology implementation and ensure that the technology use is sustained over time as well as actually improves and supports student learning. I wanted to just share a couple more things that I found in my own doctoral work that education leaders need to consider PRIOR to purchase technology, as well as AFTER purchasing technology.
I have spent years researching, creating, and doing professional development, much of it specific to technology integration in mathematics, whether that be online learning, dynamic software or calculators. I have been all over the country (and now the world as well!) providing teachers and administrators with face-to-face workshops, online learning, and blended professional development to support technology integration. My doctoral work was specifically focused on technology professional development with math teachers and was a long term, embedded study over 3 years. From my own research, which supports other educational research findings on PD and technology integration, here’s is a condensed list of things education leaders can do (before, during and after professional development) that make a difference in the success and/or failure of technology integration into classroom practice:
- Curriculum & district expectations
- Ensure technology used actually supports standards and content taught
- Make sure there is relevance of professional development content/resources to what teachers actually teach and do in the classroom
- Provide content-focused, ready-to-use activities/lessons that utilize the technology
- Set clear expectations from administration that using the technology was expected & supported
- Teaching practices
- Professional development should emphasize using technology to teach specific content
- Professional development should provide classroom management and teaching strategies for using the technology
- Multiple teaching strategies need to be modeled in professional development (questioning, collaboration)
- Teachers are given time to collaboratively plan lessons and practice using technology with their content/classroom
- Sustained Professional Development
- Long-term support must be provided
- There should be continued training on technology as well as content-focused implementation of technology
- Coaching, modeling, active learning should be key components of sustained professional development
- Teachers need sufficient opportunities to collaborate & time for practice and feedback
- Internal & External Factors are accounted for and controlled
- Access to technology should actually be available(seems a no brainer?!). Technology integration won’t work if students access to the technology is limited.
- Teachers must believe students will benefit from use of technology (so PD emphasizes relevance) and be confident in their ability to use it (so sustained PD is provided and teachers are supported in many ways)
- Time is provided. Time for teachers to learn and practice implementation, time for students to learn, and time for changes to take place BEFORE judgements/assessments are made
- Classroom structures need to support the use of the technology. So – class size, other competing technologies and/or resources are de-emphasized, support for changing classroom teaching strategies, etc. are all considered and addressed prior to and during implementation
The importance of providing teachers with resources they can use right away with students that are relevant to what they are actually teaching is so crucial, especially when a new technology is introduced. If the beginning of trying to use a new technology is filled with frustration and angst, the chance of that technology being a lasting education tool is unlikely. Comfort, confidence, and relevance make a big difference in the success of technology as a learning tool – if you provide those resources up front, and then as teachers see the benefit and get more comfortable with using the technology with students over time, you will see continued use. Follow that up with sustained support through collaborative lesson planning, coaching, online on-demand support and resources – so many possibilities, and you will see a big difference in the successful implementation of technology. ROI as they say – return on investment if you invest the resources, time, and support from the very start.
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you consider new technology for classrooms or as you re-consider how to support current technology implementation.
NOTE: A great example of this relevant, hands-on PD approach, with sustained support afterwards, is offered by Casio’s technology workshops. At these mini-workshops you get to ‘do technology’ using content-focused, hands-on math activities that can be used immediately with students, you get the technology itself (Casio fx-9750GII) and you get on-demand, sustained support via our tutorials and ready-to-use lessons, content webinars, and guided tours. The idea here is teachers get their hands on technology and do content-specific activities that help them see the relevance of the technology to their teaching and student learning. They then have ready-to-resources to implement immediately, getting them more comfortable with the technology. And they have a place to find additional resources as they become more adept with using the technology with their students. The resources and support help the use of technology become an integral part of teaching practice.