For my month 3 Master’s class (Emergent Technologies in a Collabortive Culture) at Full Sail, we have to read a book put out by ISTE called Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools. This has been a good review for me about pedagogical processes and considerations with Web 2.0 tools. The chapter I was particulary interested in, however, was the one on “Professional Development” (PD). Being a Technology Integration Specialist at my school, providing PD is an important part of my job description. And, in order for technology integration to become a seamless part of every educator’s practice, PD is an essential element needed to get to that point of seamless integration in a school.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, PD “will need to come from all angles- top down, bottom up, grade level to grade level, subject teacher to subject teacher, and even student to faculty.” I continued to say that “explicit support and dedication to the transformation process from administrators and school boards will be essential.” (a little aside here- I think that was the first time I’ve ever quoted myself. Weird!) I think this second point about the top down leadership angle is so important. If our administrators don’t have a vision nor provide leadership for educational transformation as a fundamental goal (with technology integration being a part of the transformation process), then it will be difficult to truly unfreeze the status quo (if we are thinking of ‘unfreezing’ in terms of Lewin’s Change Theory).
For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about how best this process could work from the top down (administrators) angle. I’ve had (and continue to have) conversations with like-minded colleagues and even with my immediate administrator about this. Ideas are generated, but we never seem to finalize a strong idea in how to proceed.
Today, however, I just came across a few great ideas in the ISTE book in how to proceed (this is specifically in regards to training for technology integration). Here’s a summary of the ideas (from p. 111):
1. Change two simple things in the teacher evaluation process- require teachers to show how they are integrating technology in one formally observed lesson; have an element of technology integration be part of each teacher’s annual goals.
2. Require teachers to attend a certain number of PD workshops each year relating to technology integration.
3. Poll teachers each year on their needs and desires and offer specially tailored PD workshops based off of the feedback.
4. Offer special designations to teachers who do a certain number PD workshops relating to technology integration and can show explicit application in the classroom of what they’ve learned.
5. Skype in experts on various elements of technology integration to provide specialized training so that costs can be cut from having to travel to PD workshops that are out of town.
All of these are excellent ideas. I especially like numbers 1, 2, and 4. I think these three processes more clearly show that there is vision and expectation of ALL faculty to be actively involved in the learning process. This learning process and, of course, the implementation of the newly found technology integration skills will help the evolution of relevant and authentic 21st century learning environments. This would be the ultimate goal.
Transformation and change isn’t easy regardless of the angle of approach. For the top down angle, we must have leaders who don’t fear change if it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
Solomon, G and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Washington D.C.: International Society for Technology in Education.