Using Technology in Professional Learning

ISTE Coaching Standard 4 provides three benchmarks for technology coaches to conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning. My focus is on performance indicator b: Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning and assessment.

My Question

How can we design professional development (PD) that utilizes technology and that appropriately challenges all learners?

My Resolution

During my research, I found a number of resources that provided practical ideas for differentiating professional development for teachers (see Works Consulted, below).

The resource I am most drawn to is Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning. You can check out the quick reference guide here.

Standards for Professional Learning Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students ... Learning Communities: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students occurs within learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment. Leadership: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning. Resources: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for educator learning. Data: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students uses a variety of sources and types of student, educator, and system data to plan, assess, and evaluate professional learning. Learning Designs: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students integrates theories, research, and models of human learning to achieve its intended outcomes. Implementation: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students applies research on change and sustains support for implementation of professional learning for long-term change. Outcomes: Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards.

Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning

As I read through each section of Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning, I began to brainstorm ways that technology could be used to enhance each stage:

Learning Communities

  • Use social media tools to connect school and district learning communities:
  • Create a PD blog or website in order to make artifacts from PD available for review and updates.
  • Invite members of the learning community to use these tools publish updates/posts about their use of newly acquired skills and positive outcomes for students! (Bonus: Encourage teachers to comment on each other’s posts!)

Leadership

  • Administrators should:
    • Learn how to use classroom technology tools alongside teachers in order to better support and evaluate the use of these tools in the classroom.
    • Be active on social media!
      • Participate in the learning communities that your teachers are involved in (see above).
      • Learn and share about emerging technologies and professional development opportunities.
    • Maintain a principal’s blog that includes posts about PD plans and outcomes (or post to an existing PD blog/website – see above).
    • Be an active presence in the school’s technology hubs (classrooms, makerspaces, etc.) in order to collect evidence of outcomes from PD.

Resources

  • Use a survey tool to:
    • Determine teacher’s interests and needs in order to provide the right and just-in-time resources
    • Gather feedback about effectiveness of PD
    • Determine teacher’s needs for further support.
  • Use a PD blog/website to provide access to online learning tools that can be accessed by individual teachers or teams during regular workday prep times and meetings.
  • Ask teachers who attend outside PD to share their learning (and evidence of classroom use) in a post on a PD blog/website.
  • Create a page on a PD blog/website that serves as a “bank” of commonly used tools in order to provide easy access and a “tool snapshot” (Bonus: organize tools by grade level!).
  • Use file and document sharing tools to share PD artifacts (new or updated curriculum maps, lesson & unit plans, action plans, etc.)

Data

  • If possible, involve teachers in choosing which tools will be used to collect, analyze and share data
  • PD for data collection tools should go beyond “how to administer” to include “how to analyze results” (Structured, ongoing support is necessary!).
  • Involve teachers in analyzing “whole school” data.
  • Use a survey tool to ask specific questions about how student outcomes (evidenced by data) are affected by PD efforts.
  • Use an infographic tool to create an infographic about the outcomes of your school’s or district’s PD efforts.

Learning Designs

Implementation

  • Use online file and document sharing tools (“the cloud”) to create a “bank” of institutional knowledge: plans (3-year, 5-year, PD, whole-school strategic, etc.), collected data (survey results, student outcomes), research and other resources (standards, mission statements).
  • Use online file and document sharing tools to collect and share artifacts, and to give feedback to individual teachers about the outcomes of their professional learning.
  • Use an online calendar tool to manage a PD calendar, as well as face-to-face meetings (administrator-teacher; teaching teams).

Outcomes

  • Create a page on a PD blog/website with links to assessment standards, including standards for teacher assessment, and assessment tools (Be transparent about assessment practices!).
  • Use online evaluation tools, when available and share the results!
  • Use file and document sharing tools to share assessment resources.

Technology tools that promote and facilitate collaboration and sharing among educator communities are powerful tools that can be used to support professional development efforts.

Please share your thoughts and let me know if you have experience using any of these methods and tools (or others!) in the comments section of this post!

Works Consulted

  1. Bills, A. M., Giles, D., & Rogers, B. (2016). ‘Being in’ and ‘feeling seen’ in professional development as new teachers: The ontological layer(ing) of professional development practice. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(2), 106-121. http://dx.doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2016v41n2.7
  2. Learning Forward. (2015). Standards for professional learning. Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/standards
  3. Sackstein, S. (2015, October 08). Differentiate PD for optimal teacher engagement. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/work_in_progress/2015/10/differentiate_pd_for_optimal_t.html
  4. Spencer, J. (2016, August 29). 14 ways to differentiate professional development. Retrieved from http://www.spencerauthor.com/2016/08/14-ways-to-differentiate-professional-development.html/
  5. Woolleyhand, C., PhD. (2014, April 14). Differentiating staff development to grow teacher leadership. Retrieved from http://christopherwooleyhand.edublogs.org/2014/04/14/differentiating-staff-development-to-grow-teacher-leadership/
  6. Zdonek, P. (2016, January 15). Why don’t we differentiate professional development? Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-dont-we-differentiate-pd-pauline-zdonek?page=9#comment-277746

One Comment

  1. Your post is awesome!! From my understanding, it seems like the “implementation” stage is the hardest–it’s easy to understand a teaching theory, how differentiation benefits learners for example, but it’s much harder to do so in practice. Thanks for providing some clear action steps to revamp professional development to meet the needs of all learners!

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