Thursday 19 September 2013

Thoughts on Professional Development and Technology Integration

Last year our school division introduced a new form of interactive whiteboard technology in our schools.  After a lengthy decision process involving a variety of stakeholders, the decision was made to use Mimio technology.  Interested teachers were asked to complete an application process to receive a device.  As part of the application process, teachers were asked to identify ways they intended to use the device to support student learning.  Close to 180 teachers received a MimioTeach bar in September of 2012, and an additional 120 applicants received a device in January of 2013.  Our department is anticipating an additional 40-50 applicants will receive a device during the 2013-14 school year.

A key component, (and expense), of this project has been the training and professional development which accompanies each device.  All participants receive the equivalent of two full days of training and professional development. 

The first session teachers receive is a 1/2 day introduction to Mimio, where they are given basic training in the use of the device.  Approximately one month later, teachers return for a full day of professional development, where they are given strategies to help them integrate interactive whiteboard technology into effective student instruction.  During this full day, teachers create resources focused on curriculum content they are actively using in the classroom.  When possible, the teachers have worked closely with curriculum area consultants to create resources that can be shared with teachers within the division.  To date, around one hundred resources have been developed and shared in the areas of ELA, Math, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten.  The third 1/2 day session is used about one month after the second session to allow teachers the opportunity to continue their lesson and skill development.  This format has proven to be quite successful in the year since it was introduced.

In creating a professional development plan for the deployment of these devices, our department considered a number of options.  An article we referenced by Lewin C., Somekh B., & Steadman S. suggested that any introduction of technology in education that looks to change pedagogic practice will take significant time.  The authors suggested a minimum of two years, as teachers worked their way through three levels of adoption.  Pictured below are two charts we shared with school based administrators when the devices were first introduced in the classrooms.

Adapted from: Lewin C., Somekh B., & Steadman S. (2008) Embedding interactive whiteboards in teaching and learning: the process of change in pedagogic practice.  Education & Information Technologies, 13, 291-303.

The ultimate goal is for teachers to work  through stage one and two, and begin using the technology to extend beyond their established pedagogic practice.  However, in order to get there, many teachers may need to begin by using the device in simple ways which align with previous teaching methods.  As teachers become more established with the technology, the hope is that they will push themselves to expand their methodology in the use of the technology in their instruction.

Is this an effective professional development model?  Only time will tell, as we have just passed the one year anniversary of the first wave of deployments. Early indications have been quite positive, and we have been very pleased with the progress made by the participants.  Please feel free to share any successful professional development strategies you are aware of that effectively support the integration of technology and teaching.

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