Monday 25 April 2016

Module 5: Professional Development

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 

International Baccalaureate. (2011).The role of ICT in PYP. UK: IB. 

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.

Saturday 16 April 2016

2 New Key Understandings of Pedagogy

After reading the articles in this module, I feel a combination of a social constructivist approach to learning in conjunction with connectivism is how I view the educational pedagogies I find most beneficial in practice. There is a need for students to construct their learning for a sense of ownership and engagement. However, the idea of the social aspect and connections is key with the growing digital age. Siemens (2005) suggests connectivism is a way to learn from other network and their experiences including technology to gain actionable knowledge.

Some of the new learnings I have had are:

1. Participatory technologies impact information environment greatly (Farkas, 2012, p. 82). Looking at the benefits of participatory technologies, it is clear that these tools have substantial benefit in the classroom. From increasing engagement and ownership to increased reflection and engaging in dialogue with others, students are truly developing the ability to construct new knowledge together (Farkas, p. 85). I believe that when students feel they are a part of the active learning process and it is made available for others to see, they will increase their effort, which in turn improves achievement as suggested in Farkas (p.85). In order for this collaborative approach to reflection to be successful, a constructivist and connectivist pedagogical approach are needed. Teachers need to change their pedagogy and teaching to allow for new technologies to transform their classroom.

2. There needs to be a change in information literacy instruction (Farkas, 2012, p. 82). With the change in the digital world to provide an increased wealth of resources to our students, we need to be thinking more critically as teachers about how we explicitly teach information literacy to help students become information literate (Farkas, p. 89). While we are becoming more connected, we also have to be more critical in analysing and evaluating the resources and knowledge we find (Farkas, p. 88). As teachers, we need to be instilling in our students the idea of online rights and privacy and how to support them in being safe and secure online. While participatory technologies have many benefits, we need to be aware of who has access to them and how they may engage in them. Teaching students how to change their settings to ensure the class only has access to their blogs may be a way to overcome some of these challenges as well as teaching students how to provide constructive feedback online. Thus, teaching transferable skills is key as our world of digital resources continues to grow (Farkas, p. 89). These conversations shouldn’t be happening in one classroom or in the library; rather the dialogue about information literacy belongs in each and every classroom (Farkas, p. 90).


Farkas, M. (2012). Participatory technologies, pedagogy 2.0 and information literacy. Library Hi Tech, 30(1), 82-94.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10.

Friday 15 April 2016


Connectivism is defined by George Siemens as a way of gaining knowledge through your networks of others and their experiences (2005). He suggests learning is a continual process and that the focus should be more on how to learning than what you are learning yourself as part of his principles of connectivism(Bell, 2010). This learning theory was developed as previous learning theories (behaviourism, cognitivism, social constructivism)  did not take into account the implications of technology on pedagogy. Connectivism focuses on having social connections as a way to develop actionable knowledge (Siemens, 2015).

I believe that in the 21st century we need to be sure that we are taking into account technology and the affordances it allows us when we look at learning for our students. From a connectivist perspective, teachers should be focusing on developing skills for our students to develop learning. While content is important, students can easily access content online if they are aware how to. Students need to know where and how to access a variety of online resources to find out the ‘what’ when they need it.(Siemens, 2005). Thus, teachers need to educate themselves on how to teach students these new skills.

As an educator, I value the need to be connected to other educators as a way to develop personally and professionally. Engaging with  blogging and Twitter as a way of personal reflection has allowed me to connect with educators from around the globe. This has helped me continually improve my practice by gaining feedback and ideas from others. When I am faced with a problem, I often reach out on Twitter and instantly have a network of others who may have had similar experiences and different perspectives to shed light on what I am experiencing.

This idea of creating networks is also important for our students. Students networks may be significantly smaller due to age restrictions on many different online platforms. However, the idea of being connected and using your network in gaining access to various knowledge is important. I see this currently with our Year 6 students who are completing Exhibition as part of the Primary Year Primary (International Baccalaureate). Students are working with other group members who have varied experiences and knowledge. They are reaching out to different teachers at the school who have different skillsets depending on their research and action. They’ve emailed members of the community and different organisations as other sources of information and have gone to other schools even to gain ideas of what exhibition could be like. This provides students a better understanding of action and learning being continual, different people in your networks offer different perspectives and knowledge and that they don’t have to know everything to be successful, but how to gain the information they need. This social component of learning has allowed them to develop lifelong skills that are transferrable as they continue their education and build their network further.


Bell, F. (2010). Connectivism: Its place in theory-informed research and innovation in technology-enabled learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 98-118.
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10.

Friday 1 April 2016

Choosing ICT Resources

Here are some links to help you select ICT resources: 
How to choose the best EdTech tools for online instruction: This site has a 5 step model for edtech integration 
- How to Choose the RIght EdTech Tools for Your Classroom: This site gets teachers to ask some specific questions to help them decide if it is an appropriate tech tool for the lesson.
- National Institute of Health - What is your selection criteria for choosing internet resources: While not education based, it lists out a wellrounded list of criteria to consider when choosing a tool. 
EdSurge Product Index : Database of resources that has been crowdsourced. Teachers can search by age and category. Each resource is discussed based on strengths and weaknesses. 
Graphite - A database that outlines pros and reviews by experts from Graphite as well as teacher reviews.