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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Dos and Don'ts of Tech Integration PD

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Of all the initiatives a school can begin, integrating technology may require the most professional development. This is partly because of the equipment, hardware, and software involved and partly because of the shift that a teacher must make in his or her teaching style, technique, and planning process in order to effectively use technology in the classroom.

Here are some basic "dos" and "don'ts" for anyone doing tech integration professional development.

Do Don't
Differentiate based on teachers' grade levels and curricular needs. Introduce the same tool to all of your teachers and expect them to use it the same way.
Focus on instruction and learning. Focus on the tool.
Allow teachers to voice their fears and apprehensions about using tech. Belittle teachers who are wary of bringing tech into their classrooms.
Give time for teachers to tinker with tools or software and use them to create their own project. Show teachers a tool and expect them to be able to use it without practice.
Check in with teachers over the next few weeks to see how their efforts to implement technology are going. Expect teachers to be able to start integrating tech based on a one-day PD experience.
Pair teachers up with colleagues who are farther along the path or even at the same place to share ideas and successes and support each other. Leave teachers to work things out on their own.

This approach requires those who provide professional development for teachers to listen to their needs, and to know the school and staff they are either visiting or presenting to. This includes situations when staff present to their colleagues. Teachers need support, and they need to see how technology will help them do what they do better and more effectively. They also have different needs, just like students, and may be coming with a variety of experiences and skill levels with technology.

For technology integration to be successful, a trainer needs to know these variances among the teachers he or she is working with and plan for how teachers will apply what they've learned with you once the session is over.

For more on building a PD model that supports teacher collaboration and voice, see my posts on the Edcamp model.

Comments (23)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Julie Hernandez's picture

Mary, great blog on the do's and don'ts of technology integration. I teach kindergarten and have often felt the anxiety of having to integrate a new tool into my classroom with little to no training. I can imagine how horrifying it must be for the students to be tested on a subject which they have never been taught about. We need time and the proper training to learn how to maneuver these awesome resources. You mentioned the strategy of "pairing teachers up with colleagues who are farther along the path or even at the same place to share ideas and successes and support each other." That is something I think would also work in the classroom when introducing the students to a new activities and high tech devices. Thanks for your input and for giving us such a great visual on the right and wrong ways of integrating technology.

Chad's picture
Chad
9-12 Language Arts

Our school administrators and technology staff do a fantastic job assisting teachers with the updated computers and software. However, the most frustrating part about dealing with technology that I have experienced is the lack of it in our school. There never seems to be enough funds to purchase updated software. Of course, there are never enough computers either. I also realize that this is a common problem in many districts around the country.
I feel that technology is a key component to the success of our future leaders. If we do not keep up with it, our students will pay the price.
I teach English classes and have little access to school computers because there are too few of them and they are shared with the rest of the school. I need my own classroom computers! Would anyone have any suggestions for me?
I appreciate this blog because it addresses the dos and don'ts of integrating technology into 21st century classrooms. I am eager to learn new teaching strategies with the help of technology. I only hope that there will be enough of it to go around so that all students and teachers can get the exposure required in order for it to be effective.

Renee Scott's picture
Renee Scott
Fifth grade teacher, Tennessee

I so agree! Teachers on a faculty have different comfort zones and abilities when it comes to technology. It gets so frustrating when someone tries to teach a faculty how to use a new tool- it should either be done individually or in groups based on comfort zone/ability.
This will be the first year for me to have a Smartboard in my classroom and I know it will take me a lot of "playing" to figure it all out. Any suggestions?
Thanks for the chart of Do's and Don'ts- I think you nailed it.

VeronicaZ's picture
VeronicaZ
Veteran teacher/graduate student from Texas

Agree with Charlie...too many times I've sat in a crowded room with 20 or more other teachers, and there's one presenter, one laptop, one projector...very frustrating!! Training needs to be done in small groups, in a COMPUTER LAB...

VeronicaZ's picture
VeronicaZ
Veteran teacher/graduate student from Texas

When I taught at a small private school, a generous family donated computers and networking capabilities to the 1st-6th grade building. The desktops were set up, cables installed...and we got one day of training. I stayed after school till 5 or 6 p.m. many days, teaching myself how to search for kid-friendly sites, learn to set up my gradebook...and how to reboot the computer when it crashed! Other teachers were timid with their computers..very frustrating...

Jen Stewart's picture

I am working in a school district that has been able to update technology. I think I catch on quickly when it comes to training and technology, but I think it would be nice to have a follow-up with the experts. Now that I have been working with the tools, I would like to ask more questions that I was not ready for when the training happened.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger 2014

That is such a great point, Jen. Sometimes we can't have questions until we actually begin to get our 'hands dirty' with a tool or new resource.

Amber's picture
Amber
Kindergarten teacher from Minnesota

I think that there are so many times that teachers are given training on a device before they even know anything about it. Then they are able to test it out and can remember some things that they learned, but have a whole bunch of new questions to go along with it. I agree that we need to go back and see how things are going in order to effectively use the technology that we have. There are so many times that we are given a training and its really up to us what we take from it. I would like to see additional trainings after we have had the time to tinker with it ourselves. There are so many great resources but if you don't know what to do with them, you aren't doing any justice to yourself or your students.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger 2014

It is amazing how educators are often left to their own devices to figure things out. It doesn't make it right. From my experience talking with teachers, continual support is something everyone wants, but not many people get.

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