Professional development for technology use should be an integral part of the organization technology plan or an overall staff-improvement plan, not just an add-on. Initial inclusion in the technology plan ensures that professional development is considered an essential factor in using technology to improve teaching and learning.
The technology plan, with its important professional development component, is written by a technology planning committee or team. The group approach ensures that all stakeholders support the integration of technology into the curriculum as well as sustained professional development in technology use for all trainers and administrators. The technology planning team ensures that the professional development component of the technology plan is research based and meets high standards for effective staff development (Diane 1995). Sources of professional development standards include the five tenets outlined in the Policy Position paper, developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and the Standards for Staff Development, developed by the National Staff Development Council.
Components of Effective Staff Development for Technology Use
Professional development for technology use should contain essential components that research has found to be important. These components include the following: a connection to staff learning, hands-on technology use, variety of learning experiences, curriculum-specific applications, new roles for trainers, collegial learning, active participation of trainers, ongoing process, sufficient time, technical assistance and support, administrative support, adequate resources, continuous funding, and built-in evaluation. (Shawn Rebecca 2004)
Connection to Staff Learning
The ultimate goal of professional development is to improve staff learning. Trainers value increased staff achievement as an outcome of professional development more than any other variable and judge the value of their professional development activities by how much they see a leap in staff learning. Organizations should provide trainers with abundant opportunities to become fluent in using technology to bolster instruction and help staffs develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills," notes the National Staff Development (Patrick Charnov 2000). As a result, the use of technology enables trainers to implement new teaching techniques, to help staffs work collaboratively and develop higher-order thinking skills, to encourage staffs to be engaged in the learning process, to assist staffs who have various learning styles and special needs, and to expose staffs to a broad range of information and experts.
Hands-On Technology Use
Recent research has shown the importance of current professional development emphasizing hands-on technology use. Trainers who received technology training in the past year are more likely than trainers who hadn't to say they feel 'better prepared' to integrate technology into their workplace lessons. "They also are more likely to use and rely on digital content for instruction, and to spend more time trying out software and searching for Web sites to use in class."
Initially, trainers will need to acquire core technology competencies and skills; but during these initial experiences, trainers should be thinking in terms of how the technology can enhance staff learning and how it can be used in different content ...