Armfield (2011, p.109) suggest that in many situations technology integration in the classroom is simply used for traditional activities. Yet, we need to be looking at how technology transforms the teaching and learning experience for our students and ourselves as teachers.
Armfield (2011, p.111) also brings to light the idea of a community of practice in which all stakeholders are working towards the same goal. I think this is an important point with regards to technology integration. If the administration does not value the transformative aspects of technology in education, there won’t be budgeting for devices. If teachers don’t value technology in education, they won’t bring it into their classroom. If students don’t value it, they won’t engage with it. It really needs to be a part of the school’s mission and vision about creating a learning environment to meet individual needs using 21st-century tools and strategies to enhance learning.
Armfield (2011, p.114) suggests further challenges such as teachers having little experience with technology and fearful of attempting to use it. Many teachers lack knowledge in how technology can support pedagogy and content to benefit their students. This is something that is very common in schools. It takes a lot to build ownership in learning as well as the confidence and courage to take risks in the classroom in front of students.
Matzen & Edmunds (2007) suggests that just teaching technology tools in professional development is not good enough and teachers will not likely integrate into the classroom in a transformative way. However, if there is a student-centred approach to instructional strategies, then teachers are more likely to have a shift in their own instructional methods.
My role is to lead all of the professional development sessions for education technology. This includes creating surveys to understand staff needs and develop a professional development plan each term to meet these needs, deliver the sessions and reflect back on the success of them and where to go from there. Depending on the time of year and session topics, attendance can vary but I measure success in how teachers then take their learning and apply it in their classrooms or share their learning with others. I love when teachers come back and say they’ve tried something they learnt during a session in their classroom and can share their reflections on it. This also helps them consolidate their own learning and they can then support others who would like to try similar integration strategies in the future. Just like I would facilitate sessions with our students, our professional development sessions are all linked to at least one of the ICT in PYP skills that the International Baccalaureate outlines (2011). This allows teachers to also think about what transferable skills they are developing, similar to how we teach our students.
During sessions, I believe it is important that it is hands-on for teachers and that they try things out. I always allow for time to explore so that teachers are constructing their own learning with technology (Matzen & Edmunds,2007). In addition, I model teaching the sessions in a way that I would teach my students to ensure that the learning is student centred (Matzen & Edmunds,2007). This also helps teachers integrate into their own classrooms as they often model what they have been shown during professional development sessions in their own class (Matzen & Edmunds,2007, p. 427).
I think that it needs to be a combination of ICT skills and learning new ways of teaching. This cannot just fall on the technology coach though - it needs to be supported by the administration and the curriculum coordinator to guide the way of teaching and learning. In order for teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons, they need to understand how to use the technology. Therefore, whenever we do EdTech PD at our school we always have a dual approach where we look at the technology tool and also look at applications of this in the classroom. From there, hopefully, we’ve sparked some ideas with teachers to help them use the tool to deliver or assess content in the future. We can also then have coaching sessions to support teachers in their planning and draw on some of the tools that would help them best deliver content without spending time ‘teaching’ them during these times.
Professional development is ongoing as suggested in Armfield (2011, p. 115). Therefore, we cannot teach teachers everything there is to know about technology integration at once. There needs to be an ongoing commitment to professional development of best practice and technology integration at the school level to build this idea of a community of practice. This will help teachers become more confident using technology in their classes and move beyond just teaching skills towards transformative learning.
In addition, as teachers become more confident using technology they should also spend more time reflecting on how they’ve used it and adapt to enhance their teaching. Similarly, as more professional development sessions are run, there needs to be reflection by the technology team to ensure the sessions meet the needs of the staff in a challenging and effective manner.
Our school is really good about providing time and resources for teachers to actually learn through technology. Our department has offered close to 30 sessions this year for teachers and are looking to expand that to an online course for new teachers to bring them up to basics as well as use 2 days if staff professional development days and 2 Primary/ Secondary meetings to develop our new digital citizenship curriculum next year. Schools need to keep this commitment of giving teachers time if they want their teachers to use technology effectively (Armfield, 2011, p. 119).
Lawless & Pellegrino (2007) suggest that most professional development is voluntary. This is very true in our school this year in terms of technology integration professional development. All 30 sessions are voluntary meaning that only those who are motivated and want to engage with these sessions, rather than those who really could benefit from sessions like this. This is another reason we are moving 4 mandatory staff professional development sessions next year. Effective technology integration is something that all staff need to work towards, hence the whole school approach by administration next year.
Armfield, S. (2011). Technology leadership for school improvement Planning, designing, implementing and evaluating technology, pp. 109-128, 2011. in Technology and Leadership for School Improvement. Papa, R. (Ed) California :Sage
Matzen, N. J., & Edmunds, J. A. (2007). Technology as a Catalyst for Change: The Role of Professional Development. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 39(4), 417-430.