Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Technology That Teachers Want

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Which technologies do teachers want in their classrooms? Do they want Chromebooks, or iPads, or Windows tablets, or Android tablets? Do they want interactive whiteboards, or document cameras, or sound projection systems? In the end, those are not the decisions that will make or break an educational technology implementation. It is all about the professional development. A new nationwide survey of over 1,000 K-12 teachers shows that teachers are more interested in making sure that they get sufficient PD than they are in which devices get purchased.

According to that survey, 90% of teachers say that technology is an important piece of an instructional program. However, only 60% of teachers say that they feel adequately prepared to use technology in the classroom. More than one third of teachers, 37%, say that they would love to use technology in the classroom but simply do not know how.

Fortunately, there is plenty of research available on effective professional development. When dealing with PD for teachers on the topic of technology, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Make sure you are offering training on the basics as an option. Overall, 38% of teachers reports feeling the need for training on the fundamentals of technology use. That percentage rises as the age of the teacher rises.

2. Host PD opportunities during existing work days. Over 75% of teachers say they would like to have dedicated professional learning days on the topic of technology.

3. Many teachers like having an online alternative available. Consider offering self-paced online PD options.

4. Build an online community for sharing resources. The Web is full of lessons and other teacher resources, but 80% of teachers report wanting to have a place to share lessons with the other teachers they know.

5. Things have to work. Teachers need to know how to access technical support when they need it. Approximately 70% of teachers report not having tech support (or perhaps not knowing about it) to help them when they have trouble accessing something online.

Remember that the most effective professional development is ongoing. Whatever type of PD program you put in place at your school or district, make sure that it is repeated and enhanced each year with options for various levels of need.

Dennis Large
educator & learner