Friday, August 15, 2014

Hitting a moving target

For me reading professional books is an important component of professional learning. Over the last several months I've been looking for good books for our new Tech Integration Coaches too.  Yesterday I picked up the book Technology Together: Whole School Professional Development for Capability and Confidence by Renata Phelps and Anne Graham from Southern Cross University in Australia.   I started reading it at the airport on my way to lead a workshop in Singapore and so far I really like it.

First of all the authors write about the importance of integrating technology, as an essential 21st century literacy and because it can maximize student motivation, engagement, and independence as well as allowing for individualization of learning.  Also important is the ability to interact with global communities.  Unfortunately technology, while being used in many classrooms, is still not being used in a way that supports student-centered instruction, nor is it often used in innovative ways.  The authors claim that "good teaching is effective only when combined with relevant ICT tools and resources and that we should expect teachers to use the most appropriate technology tools in the same way that we expect other professionals to do so".

One issue with traditional tech PD is that you are constantly trying to hit a moving target. A few years ago many s hooks focused on training for using IWBs, after that it was laptops and now we are looking at how to use mobile devices and tablets.  Who knows what the next wave of technological change will bring?

Some PD models focus on increasing knowledge.  For example the TPACK approach emphasizes differ sorts of knowledge (technological, pedagogical and content) that teachers need to develop.  Actually knowledge is easy to address in PD, but that's only a small part of what is needed.  More important is the mindset, where technology is valued and teachers are open to using it in their teaching practices, and the culture of the school which supports continual learning and risk-taking.
The Technology Together approach is interesting and based on 8 main beliefs:
  • technology learning is different from technology training
  • technology competency is different from technology capability
  • adoption and integration of technology is influenced by teachers' attitudes, beliefs, values, motivation, confidence and learning strategies
  • technology learning is influenced by school culture
  • a whole school approach maximizes student outcomes
  • leadership is important in establishing a supportive school environment
  • how teachers learn is as important as what teaches learn
  • technology learning can enhance teacher professionalism and stimulate change in school culture

The aim of Technology Together, and indeed  our aim of introducing tech coaches this year is not to have them teach specific tech skills, but to have them empower teachers to be in control of their own learning and to support them through reflection and dialogue.  In this situation, the fact that technology is constantly changing (that the target is moving), will become irrelevant.

Photo Credit: mattb_tv via Compfight cc

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