Joseph Valver and his fellow instructional technology facilitators at Hamilton Township School District in New Jersey were providing numerous options for educators in their district to learn how to use education technology, but something was holding educators back.
“As we were doing these professional developments and giving all these opportunities to our staff, we had one main concern that we kept hearing over and over again: ‘I just don’t have the time,’” Valver told attendees at the International Society for Technology in Education’s 2019 annual conference in Philadelphia. “That was something I learned very quickly after coming into the education world: Don’t talk about time with teachers because there simply just isn’t enough.”
After conducting an educator survey, Valver and his team found teachers would not only accept but embrace an online professional development platform.
With Google's G Suite already deeply integrated into the classroom for educators, Valver and his colleagues realized they could use the digital classroom tool to help educators become education technology experts.
Google Classroom Tools Let Educators Access PD Anywhere
Valver and his colleagues planned to roll out their technology PD curriculum over the summer and realized teachers would need tools that were device-agnostic, flexible and mobile friendly.
“We needed to understand that our teachers were going to be using all different kinds of operating systems, all different kinds of devices and different levels of connectivity,” said Christopher Corney-McGee, instructional technology facilitator at Hamilton Township School District. “We envisioned teachers sitting by the side of the pool, maybe even sitting on the beach. With Google Apps you can use it across any device, which made it the perfect scenario.”
To make the program more manageable for teachers and facilitators, Corney-McGee and his colleagues narrowed their focus, selecting only a handful of tools from the G Suite library.
“We decided on four applications and we were going to present them using the Google Classroom platform,” Corney-McGee said. “Once we decided we were going to use Google Classroom as our platform, the next step was to figure out the content.”
5 Steps to Build a Technology Professional Development Framework
To use Google Classroom tools affectively, technology facilitators implemented the ADDIE model, an instructional design method commonly used because of its simplicity and effectiveness, said Cara Flodmand, a member of the instructional technology facilitator team.
The ADDIE model is composed of five steps:
- Analyze: To help teachers absorb the PD material, Flodmand and her team wanted to incorporate personalized learning into their program. “We wanted to make sure everything we asked a teacher to do would make sense for them and give a lot of choice for what the training would look like for that individual person.” Flodmand developed a self-assessment through Google Forms where teachers could share what they wanted to learn, how they wanted to learn, where they were the most uncomfortable and how technology facilitators could help overcome those barriers.
- Design: After having a better picture of what kinds of PD teachers were looking for, Flodmand and her team identified how best to use the G Suite tools available to them. Through Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets and Google Drawings, facilitators asked teachers to create self-driven content, such as mock lesson plans, which facilitators could assess. In Google Forms, facilitators could test educators’ knowledge, tracking their progress through the course. The PD program also incorporated other Google products, such as YouTube and screencast extensions on Chrome to create tutorials.
- Develop: Instructional technology facilitators took their ideas from the design phase and turned them into reality. Flodmand and her colleagues assembled storyboards and course frameworks within G Suite, housing them in easy-to-access locations to make it simple for educators to find the tools they needed.
- Implement: Once all the course materials were created, Flodmand sent out invitations to the course through Gmail. Facilitators regularly posted new materials, hosted discussions through Google Hangouts and livestreamed classes to keep teachers engaged throughout their online learning.
- Evaluate: After the course was over, Flodmand and fellow facilitators sent out a final assessment through Google Forms, as well as a self-assessment on how teachers thought they did in the class. Once the scores of the final assessment were tallied, Flodmand and her team used Google Sheets to input and analyze data to understand where the team could improve for the next course.
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