April 7, 2013
To Whom It May Concern:
Today’s expectations within the classroom are quickly expanding. Including technology into your daily instruction is a vital component of those expectations. As educators, we often find it difficult to implement technology into our classrooms without fully understanding what to do. In my paper, it is my objective to provide the reasons why it is so important to supply educators the ample amount of professional development on technology use combined with instruction. I present to you the issues that arise when schools do not provide this professional development in addition to the solutions that ample professional development can offer. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read about this important issue.
Valuable Professional Development to Support Technology in the Classroom
In today’s growing education field it is important to remember that professional development is what continues to improve the instruction for our students every day. The use of technology within the classroom is evident. What is not so evident is the professional development to support teacher’s instructional use of technology for student achievement. Without sufficient professional development on technology use, educators will not be able to fully implement technology into their daily curriculum.
Whether or not technology should be used in schools is no longer the issue in K-12 education. Rather, the issue is guaranteeing that technology is used effectively to create new opportunities for learning and to promote student achievement. Educational technology requires the support of educators who integrate technology into the curriculum and instruction, align it with student learning goals, and use it for more engaging learning activities. Teacher quality is the most important when it comes to student achievement.
The problem is that “most teachers have not had adequate training to prepare them to use technology effectively in teaching” (Office of Technology Assessment, 1995, p. 2). “In general, teachers have little in the way of technology support or training available at their schools” (Office of Technology Assessment, 1995, p. 25). The lack of professional development focused around technology is a serious barrier affecting the fully implemented classroom with technology. Therefore, professional development for teachers becomes the key issue in using technology to improve the quality of learning in the classroom.
Although “technology-related professional development is undergoing a transformation”, stated by Plair (2008), schools still need to continue, or begin to have this as a main focus for their professional development (p. 71). Technology in schools in on an uprising climb and in order to effectively teach our students of today so they are ready for the future, we need to have valuable professional development to support our teachers in fully implementing technology into their classrooms.
Effective professional development, as described by Borko (2004), “includes an explicit focus on subject matter that can help teachers develop these powerful understandings” of the information they need to be successful (p. 5). Borko (2004) states, “to foster students’ conceptual understanding, students must have rich flexible knowledge of the subjects they teach” (p. 5). The way to provide teachers with the knowledge are through well defined, arranged, organized, and implemented professional development on technology for the educators. This does not mean professional development focused on how to use a particular technology tool, but instead is focused on implementing the technology into the teachers’ daily instruction.
According to Plair (2008), “Teachers eager to become technologically fluent need the same kind of support we provide to teachers striving to increase their skills in the teaching of reading, writing, and math” (p. 71). The education system needs to start putting technology in the forefront of their minds and supporting the teachers with the appropriate resources they need. Guskey (1998) found that “Educators need time to deepen their understanding, analyze students’ work, and develop new approaches to instruction” (p. 230). The only way to allow for this deep understanding is by supporting the teachers with resources for teaching technology and allowing them the time to implement them within their classroom, reflect on their practices, and make changes as necessary.
The ultimate goal of professional development is to improve student learning and achievement. Unfortunately, Lawless and Pellegrino (2007) mention, “the evidence suggests that technology is often poorly integrated with other classroom instructional activities” (p. 580). Guskey (1998) expresses this in the simplest terms: “Simply adding more time for professional learning does not make things better. What matters most is how that time is used. Effective professional learning time must be well organized, carefully structured, clearly focused, and purposefully directed” (p. 230). Professional development needs to be viewed as an ongoing part of teacher’s professional lives and needs to focus on a connection to student learning, hands-on technology use, and new roles for teachers, a variety of learning experiences, administrative support, and curriculum-specific applications. With all of these components together, the technology professional development will be valuable for all educators involved.
Valuable, technology focused professional development is vital for technology use within the classroom. This professional development should not be focused merely on how to use the tools but instead on using the tools to implement technology into the classroom. Just as any other subject area, technology needs to be viewed as a subject that will help aid in student achievement. Without sufficient professional development on technology use, teachers will not be able to feel successful in completely implementing technology into their daily curriculum.
Borko, Hilda. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning; mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3-15.
Guskey, T. R. (1998). The age of our accountability. Journal of Staff Development, 19(4), 36-44.
Lawless, K. A. & Pellegrino, J. W. (2007). Professional development in integrating technology into teaching and learning: knowns, unknowns, and ways to pursue better questions and answers. Review of Educational Research, 77(4), 575-614.
Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. (1995). Teachers and technology: Making the connection. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Plair, Sandra Kay. (2008). Revamping professional development. The Clearing House, 82(2), 70-74.