Monday, November 30, 2015

Technology without Training & Sustained Support Will NEVER Succeed

I just read this article by Eric Patnoudes entitled "Beyond the Silver Bullet: Making 1:1 Matter".  As a parent and former teacher, Eric's basically was saying that all the technology in the world and 1:1 initiatives will fail in the classroom if teachers are not provided with the training and support they need to CHANGE their practice. Professional development needs to go beyond how to use the technology and be more about how to teach with the technology in ways that are different and more appropriate for the technology. Using the same old 20th century teaching practices with new technologies is doomed to failure.

Couldn't agree more. My last post speaks to this as well - not only do we need to analyze and plan for WHAT technologies are appropriate, but we need to plan and provide continued training and support to ensure the technology purchased is being used to change teaching and support learning.

In my research regarding implementing technology effectively in the classroom, those teachers who were in fact changing their practice and using technology DIFFERENTLY and APPROPRIATELY had professional development and continued support.  Here are the things that made a difference:

  1. Curriculum & district expectations
    • Technology used actually supports standards and content taught
    • Relevance of professional development content/resources to what teachers actually teach and do in the classroom
    • Providing content-focused, ready-to-use activities/lessons that utilize the technology
    • Clear expectation from administration that using the technology was expected & supported
  2. Teaching practices
    • Professional development emphasized using technology to teach specific content 
    • Professional development provided classroom management and teaching strategies for using the technology 
    • Multiple teaching strategies were modeled in professional development (questioning, collaboration)
    • Teachers had time to collaboratively plan lessons and practice using technology with their content/classroom
  3. Sustained Professional Development 
    • Long-term support was provided
    • Training on technology as well as content-focused implementation of technology
    • Coaching, modeling, active learning all part of sustained professional development
    • Collaboration & time for practice and feedback
  4. Internal & External Factors are accounted for and controlled
    • Access to technology available. Technology integration won't work if students access to the technology is limited.
    • Teachers believe students will benefit from use of technology (so PD emphasizes relevance) and are 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 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
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into integrating technology effectively into classrooms if  changes in instructional practices and student achievement are expected. Just providing the technology and a quick how-to professional development training is NEVER enough and doomed to failure. Planning before is vital; time, support, evaluation and feedback are necessary during initial implementation; and continued reassessment and training/support of the implementation are crucial for sustained change and impact on student learning. If you can't provide all of this, then don't expect anything to change.

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