The Key to Making Technology Effective in the Classroom

15 Mar

I came across an article in Tech & Learning magazine and it immediately caught my eye.  A Director of Technology received the Leader of the Year award and it wasn’t all because of the hardware they implemented in their school. The tech director did accomplish getting technology into her district but what made her stand out most from other tech directors was the fact that she provided top-notch professional development.

Julie Bohnenkamp of Center Grove Community School Corporation in Greenwood, Indiana, received the Leader of the Year award because she understands the importance of delivering high-quality training to teachers so that personalized learning and differentiation could take place in classrooms. Bohnenkamp spent a lot of time writing grants to get technology into the schools but realized that the technology was only as good as the user. Teachers need proper training and support in order to be successful and feel confident in using new technology and if school leaders want to see that in teachers, they need to provide opportunities for professional development.

Reading this article was one more piece of evidence that professional development is the key component to making technology effective in the classroom. I have been in numerous school districts observing teachers using technology (specifically Mimio IWBs) and I see the same two scenarios:
1.) Teachers use technology at the absolute basic level
2.) Teachers incorporate the technology into all aspects of their teaching and in all subject areas.

When I talk to administrators and explain that most teachers are using the technology for very basic use, they just retort that they don’t have the money in their budget for professional development so they can advance their skills. Schools that excel are those that use technology to its full potential and value training more than the actual hardware. In my professional opinion, I feel that using money to purchase hardware without technology is a waste of the district’s money. Why spend thousands of dollars on something that will just sit in the classroom unused?

I’m lucky to work for a professional development organization that offers training and support to schools; however, it’s a constant struggle to get administration to understand what the teachers need and want. I’m amazed at how many teachers ask for training but don’t receive it.  Teachers are often labeled “tech savvy” that really are just basic users and I’m amazed that after years of technology being used at a basic level, districts still think professional development for technology is not needed. For any administrator reading this, please look at technology as you would any other curriculum that utilizes in-service days throughout the year. Listen to your teachers and find out what they really want. Understand what using technology effectively should look like and then observe your “tech savvy” teachers to evaluate if professional development is needed. The more administration knows, the more teachers will learn and the more engaging classrooms will be.

Until next time,

Lisa

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