To assist the professional development process for both teachers and IT professionals, Digital Promise, in conjunction with Google, has established a new program called the Dynamic Learning Project to help introduce new education technology into the classroom.
K–12 teachers are interested in adopting technology, but low confidence in their abilities to use it well enough to make the integration worth the investment is a significant barrier.
Of 2,000 K–12 teachers surveyed, only 10 percent reported feeling secure in their abilities to incorporate “higher-level” technology into their classroom. However, 79 percent displayed a desire to go through training regimens to familiarize themselves with these new tools, according to a PwC report.
While educators may present interest in professional development, it can be hard for administrators and IT teams to train educators, especially if they are not familiar with technology coaching methods themselves.
In response, DLP designed a curriculum for teachers to interact and experiment with new educational tools, and paired teachers with local technology coaches to perfect their training techniques.
In a report of its pilot year, DLP found the tactics it used had positive results. Schools participating in DLP’s program found 86 percent of teachers used technology more during the course of the year, compared to 76 percent of those not in the program. Similarly, 60 percent of DLP teachers reported seeing a significant increase in their ability to interact with education technology, compared to 46 percent of other teachers.
5 Key Points of Professional Development
DLP uses five key points to guide teachers and coaches through the professional-development curriculum:
- Content Focus: When providing technology coaching, concrete examples are key. Instead of explaining the hypothetical uses of a virtual reality helmet, show teachers how using mixed reality gear can be a helpful tool specific to their class material. For a history teacher, explain how a VR helmet can teach students about past civilizations through a virtual exploration of ancient Rome.
- Active Learning: Similar to the success teachers have found with students through new pedagogical practices, allowing teachers to actively engage in their own learning can help them retain lessons on using technology to solve classroom challenges. In the DLP program, coaches would ask teachers to choose from a list of challenges that commonly occur with students and then brainstorm how technological solutions could help. In one teacher’s case, introducing Chromebooks into her class helped her simultaneously manage what was once an unruly classroom and improve student engagement.
- Sustained Duration: The idea behind this one is relatively simple: Training takes time. K–12 administrators cannot be shown a tool once and expected to become experts overnight. If coaches are not available, companies like Microsoft and Google offer resources to help with navigating broad classroom technology practices, as well as specifics about products like Office 365 or Google Classroom.
- Collective Participation: Along with learning from trained technology coaches, some of the best sources for educators are other educators. For DLP participants, teachers involved in technology integration worked with each other to share ideas for ways to use their new tools to engage students. “Our eighth grade team is our most reluctant team, and two members [who attended the PD on digital badging] took it back to their team at the end of the day and they’ve now implemented digital badges for vocabulary, which is a campuswide focus,” said one DLP coach. “Now the entire eighth grade is doing vocabulary in their homeroom with digital badges, from a 25-minute presentation.”
- Coherence: While all four of the previous points are important, the most crucial component is guiding these principles around school-specific goals for outcome improvement. Utilizing data analytics can be a helpful way to understand where technology can best be injected into a school curriculum.