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Professional Development for Technology Integration

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND KEY FINDINGS

INTRODUCTION

The role of technology in the classroom has steadily increased over the past decade. In 2009, 97 percent of teachers had at least one computer in their classrooms. By 2013, more than 300,000 K‐12 students were enrolled in fully online programs. New technological tools – including interactive whiteboards, digital light processing projectors, and digital cameras – have also become more prevalent in K‐12 classrooms. As such, teachers must learn how to effectively integrate technology in the classroom and adapt their teaching methods to incorporate new devices.

The proven benefits of instructional technology highlight the need for its widespread adoption; however, professional development opportunities are essential to better train educators in the effective use of technology as instructional tool. One major challenge for districts is preparing teachers who are well practiced in “traditional” classroom delivery methods to integrate educational technology into curricula. Moreover, some teachers and schools may lack the infrastructure or knowledge base to effectively integrate technology into instruction. Professional development provides educators the opportunity to understand new advancements and adapt their teaching styles and pedagogy to make effective use of available educational enhancements.

The report is divided into two sections:

  • Section I addresses the importance of professional development (PD) for teachers as they learn how to effectively integrate educational technology for positive student outcomes. It also examines best practices for PD programs integrating new technologies and related pedagogies.
  • Section II examines considerations for integrating technology into K‐12 classrooms, and how teachers can effectively alter their pedagogies to more seamlessly incorporate technology into classroom instruction.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Successful professional development programs provide ongoing support through coaching, professional learning communities, and information repositories.
  • Teacher PD should be highly customized, delivering immediately usable solutions to the daily challenges that teachers will face when making major curricular changes in their subject areas.
  • Understanding appropriate pedagogical practices for using technology can be more important to effective instruction than technical mastery of technology, although both elements are essential. Extensive training in both pedagogy and technology are needed through ongoing professional development opportunities.
  • Research suggests that teachers participating in a PD program that includes coaching or mentoring are more likely to implement new instructional methods. A 2011 study conducted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) demonstrated that teachers who received coaching implemented new instructional methods at a rate of 85 percent, while only 15 percent of teachers without coaching support implemented new methods.
  • Schools that adopt a learnercentered pedagogy tend to experience greater integration and more effective use of technology in the classroom. Technology is less effective when used to support traditional “teacher‐centered” pedagogies, which tend to use technology as a supplement rather than as a core element of instruction.
  • Online information repositories provide teachers continuous and convenient access to relevant teaching resources. Many teachers report success conducting research at their own pace. The characteristics of an instructor’s particular subject area may also demand specialized investigations and considerations. For these reasons, successful professional development programs offer extensive online resources that teachers can access and search as needed.
  • Significant and longlasting changes occur when a school’s “policies, practices, culture, and funding” are structured to facilitate the integration of educational technology. Successful change in the classroom must be supported at the building and district levels. If access to and use of technology are not continuous from year-to‐year, it is difficult to effect meaningful change in pedagogy.
  • Successful PD programs make use of the technologies that teachers will be using. The ISTE notes that “learning with technology is more important than learning about technology.” Teachers benefit by seeing what and how they can learn through available technological tools.

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