Feb 23 2021

Closing the Professional Development Gap for K–12 Teachers

Successful technology training programs will help teachers navigate the virtual classroom and the challenges of the emerging digital world.

Professional development has never been more critical for educators. Last year’s rapid shift to remote learning intensified challenges for educators in the digital landscape.

The transition also put existing professional development standards and practices to the test. After all, without a clear focus on building technology skills, many training programs could fall short and leave teachers ill-equipped for a more digitally driven future — especially a future in which the unexpected happens.

Many experts believe that better technology training could help educators be better prepared to face sudden shifts and transitions. Recent data suggests that teachers need better professional development support and that a lack of technical training has deepened the digital divide. A study by GBH Education and PBS Learning Media, which surveyed 1,914 teachers across the U.S. between March and June 2020, found that 13 percent of teachers had never used digital media services in the classroom setting before the shift to remote learning, and only 66 percent felt confident using educational technologies.

From online discussion forums and Google Classrooms to YouTube videos and social media, there’s no doubt that technology has taken up permanent residence in K–12 classrooms. Knowing this, it’s critical that we implement tech-forward professional development programs to help educators feel more comfortable navigating the virtual classroom.

DISCOVER: 5 questions to ask when securing the work-from-home environment.

Online Professional Development and Training Services for Educators

So, what does a successful technology training program look like? Teachers need professional development support that aligns with their schedules, covers a wide range of topics and maintains a forward-looking focus. Online platforms, such as friEdTechnology or Teq’s Otis for Educators, offer a personalized approach to professional development and training.

As a Google for Education partner, friEdTechnology provides both online and onsite options for K–12 staff development and technology integration. The Mississippi Department of Education partnered with friEdTechnology to launch the Mississippi Connects Professional Development and Resources Hub. Through Mississippi Connects, educators can access free technology resources and learning opportunities that support online, blended and hybrid learning models. Each participating school district has the opportunity to meet with a consultant to review the unique challenges and goals of their district’s teachers and students. The program offers a series of educator resources and asynchronous professional development services to meet the district’s needs, focusing on Apple, Google and Microsoft products, and popular platforms such as Canvas and Schoology. Additionally, Mississippi Connects provides helpful parent resources for virtual learning.

How Technical Training Paves the Way for Positive Learning Outcomes

Technology has cemented its place in K–12 education. Research from the World Economic Forum shows that remote work environments are set to expand, and that employers could move 44 percent of their workforces online. The report indicates that by 2025, roles in automation and digitization will experience a significant increase, with 80 percent of businesses launching plans to deploy new workplace technologies. To ensure our students’ success, we have to prioritize technology training and professional development, not only for the students themselves, but for the educators committed to helping them succeed.

 

This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

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