In my last blog post, I talked about the five models of technology PD; Face-to-Face Learning, Online Synchronous Learning, Online Asynchronous Learning, Blended Learning and Flipped Classroom Learning. In this blog post I intend to chat about the different faces of tech integrated PD. Each model could be used to introduce or solidify the concepts, however, it is also important to focus on the learners and understand their true needs before planning out professional development. For this reason I have created what I call, “The Six Faces of Professional Development.”
When planning out a PD event, especially in regards to tech use and integration within the classroom setting, it is always important to ask yourself what will my leaners gain from this session? What is the reason that they will even attend? They are simple questions, but certainly ones we must ask ourselves before presenting or we have completely missed our intended audiences’ needs.
It is also important to survey our audiences’ needs. This can be done simple through a Google Form or merely visiting teachers face-to-face within team meetings or even individually. A successful tech integrator or tech coach knows their audience and can provide PD on the spot geared towards those needs.
Okay, so you are probably saying get to the point Eric. What are the six faces of PD that you are speaking of, so I can get on with it. Alright, take it easy, I’ll explain. When faced with speaking to your audiences’ needs, you first need to understand them as a whole, as a team and as individuals. The needs will vary based upon the group at hand. Organizing, planning and presenting information to these different audiences may take on different models and shapes based upon the need(s).
For starters, let’s say you are in front of a group of elementary teachers that are trying to learn why they would ever need to understand Google Classroom. You have a wide variety of skill levels when it comes to tech use within the group. From the very savvy to the tech illiterate. This is a tough PD session to present at. Even more so perhaps than the elementary classroom that these teachers hail from with their varied learners.
Okay, let’s take a step back then. What is it you want all of the learners to gain from the experience? Also, ask yourself, what is it that you want to make sure you touch upon so that you can follow up with each individual in order to assist them at their level? This last part may be impossible if you teach in a large district with hundreds of teachers, but it still may be worth asking yourself the question, but rather think of your individuals as small groups instead.
This is where the six faces of PD come in. Note, that during a single presentation you may touch upon more than one face of PD, but it is important to know the difference and address these differences with your intended audience as well.
The Six Faces of Tech Integrated PD
- Application Use for Teachers and Workflow for Educators.
- Within this face of PD you are discussing how to use tools in order to promote more efficiencies in the daily routines. This could be application support for attendance, lunch count, daily reminders, calendar events and invites, etc. It’s all about utilizing and promoting teacher efficiency. This does not in any way really promote student growth. Also, in my eyes this should never be a part of a teacher evaluation either. It’s all about teaching to a tool. (Teacher Efficiency)
- Application Use for Students and Promoting Best Practices.
- Again, this could be PD designed to teach to a tool, however, it is more than promoting what teachers can do with this new tech tool to boost efficiency. Instead it is promoting student voice and choice. Think of this face of PD as a menu of options. Teachers and/or students are then exposed to these options in a tasting format so that they can add these options to their repertoire and menu for future projects. In many cases resources are highlighted for both teacher and student revisits. Students become more efficient in the workflows and best practices of these applications, that they can inherently choose which tool best fits the criteria of the project at hand in the future. (Student Efficiency)
- Transforming the Lessons with Tech. Integration.
- Often we hear of teachers digitizing their classroom. There is a difference between a digitized classroom and a digital classroom though. It’s much like the difference between a translated digital lesson to a transformative digital lesson. Let me explain. A digitized classroom or digitally translated lesson takes what you already had in place and makes it electronic. In other words, it is taking the old worksheet or quiz that you had on paper and translating it into a Google Doc or Form that can be filled out by the students online. This isn’t a bad first step, but it is not the true end goal. It may make the lesson more visible, and the students may fill out the form or worksheet more efficiently, but it really didn’t change the lesson. A transformed lesson, or digital classroom uses tech tools to enhance the lesson in a way that could not have been done before the tools were developed. A quick example may be as simple as using a Google Form to poll the audience and use the responses option to quickly see the outcomes as they come in. This could not have been done before the technology was invented. Of course an example could be much more sophisticated than that as well. Either way, the lesson was made better by the technology. (Enhancement)
- Teaching Technology Skills
- Teaching direct technology skills in a learning environment such as digital citizenship, computer science, coding, etc. are invaluable these days, but not every school has the time, resources or teachers to pull this off. In this face of PD teachers and/or students learn skills specifically for technology and are assessed on their progress. This could be in real time with a physical teacher or online in a micro-credentialed type of environment. Learners gain skills to be more productive in their skills and output. (Productivity)
- Models of Theory and Teaching Pedagogy
- In this face of PD discussions of models and theory are presented surrounding MakerSpace/Genius Hour philosophy, design thinking, socratic method, Harkness table, etc. Learners are focused more on theory than on practice and instead of hands-on learning of a tool it is centered more on the discussion of theory. Attendees are encouraged to discuss their own experiences and build off of each others support and ideas. Learners are encouraged to embrace critical thinking as they collaborate and discuss potential models that may work in their learning environment. (Critical Thinking)
- Assessment Both For and Of the Learning
- Lastly, the final face of PD shares insight into using technology for assessment. This type of PD is very popular amongst administrators, but it is important to focus on what type of assessment and/or measures is the desired outcome. In other words, are you assessing students of their learning in a summative fashion, for their learning in a formative evaluation both for teaching and for learners, or as a comparison to understand the potential of practice and outcomes. Both Rick Stiggins and Dr. Kim Meldrum have discussed these styles of assessment within their publications to improve both teacher and student growth. There are many tools, strategies and ways to analyze data to make sense of any of these measurements, but you first must ask yourself what is the purpose? (Assessment/Measurement of Growth)
There you have it, when planning out professional development, especially when technology is involved, it is important to ask yourself what are the audience needs and how can I best plan to present solutions and workflows to best meet those needs. I encourage all of you to ask these questions before planning and presenting. Only then can we promote a growth mindset with all learners to raise the bar in education.