This week I have been exploring teacher professional development (TPD). In this post I will examine the Who? The What? And How? Of TPD.
Who drives professional development? Who identifies the learning objectives? Who delivers and facilitates TPD?
It is commonly accepted that effective technology leadership relies on the presence of a champion who is an active and enthusiastic advocate for technology in education (Stuart, Mills & Remus, 2009; Shanks, 2000). In terms of coordinating and leading technology TPD, I believe teaching technology champions should be driving both informal and formal development experiences. Through identifying learning objectives, building communities of practice, facilitating professional discussion and modelling best practice. With the support and facilitation of school leadership, champions should be encouraged to showcase, model and deliver development experiences. Just as Avidov-Ungar & Hanin-Itzak (2019) suggested, change and growth can be achieved through empowering ICT Coordinators in schools.
What does technology in education look like? What skills and knowledges do teachers need to develop?
TPD experiences need to be diverse and responsive to not just the needs of the learners and educators, but to the opportunities presented by continuing technological developments. These diverse TPD experiences should include exploring technology as a curriculum subject area, as a pedagogical tool and as an inventible part of the future of their learners lives and therefore the future of education. Technologies worth to education depends on more than just access, but rather how teachers use it (George & Sanders, 2017). I believe every community, school and learning institution is unique and therefore I cannot definitely say what skills and knowledge educators need in order to be effective integrators and users of technology-enhanced pedagogies. However, I do believe that across all education institutions there must be a minimum level of teacher digital literacy. I am very fond of using the UNESCO ICT Teacher competency framework (UNESCO, 2011), as a point of reference for such development.
How can professional development be effectively and authentically delivered? How to promote teacher autonomy and engagement?
From the research and studies I have read and my first-hand experience receiving and delivering TPD experiences, I believe the most effective way to foster professional learning is to establish strong communities of practice (CoP). CoP is a widely accepted and celebrated practice to improve educator capacity (Patton & Parker, 2017). To help develop strong CoP, I believe in utilizing a learner-centered approach (Begg, 1993), where the teacher is positioned as a learner or researcher (Giroux, 1988) and is encouraged to identify their own learning needs not based on their self-identified “deficiencies” but on their interests. To compliment this approach, I also believe in championing and empowering grade leaders and ICT coordinators (Avidov-Ungar & Hanin-Itzak, 2019). To deepen development experiences, I suggest employing a range of different strategies some of which include supporting teachers to engage in reflective blogging or journaling (Prestridge, 2014), providing hands-on exploratory learning experiences others (Gallivan, Spitler, and Koufaris, 2005) and establishing peer-coaching models.
See illustrated diagram below.
Avidov-Ungar, O., & Hanin-Itzak, L. (2019). Sense of Empowerment Among School ICT Coordinators: Personal, Subject-Area and Leadership Empowerment. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 24(3), 401-417.
Gallivan, M. J., Spitler, V. K., & Koufaris, M. (2005). Does information technology training really matter? A social information processing analysis of coworkers’ influence on IT usage in the workplace. Journal of Management Information Systems, 22(1), 153-192.
Giroux, H. (1988) Teachers as Intellectuals: towards a critical pedagogy of learning. South Hadley: Bergin & Garvey.
Howell, J. M., & Higgins, C. A. (1990). Champions of change: Identifying, understanding, and supporting champions of technological innovations. Organizational Dynamics, 19(1), 40-55.
Patton, K., & Parker, M. (2017). Teacher education communities of practice: More than a culture of collaboration. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 351-360.
Prestridge, S. J. (2014). Reflective blogging as part of ICT professional development to support pedagogical change. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(2), 6.
Shanks, G. (2000). A model of ERP project implementation. Journal of information Technology, 15(4), 289-303.
Stuart, L. H., Mills, A. M., & Remus, U. (2009). School leaders, ICT competence and championing innovations. Computers & Education, 53(3), 733-741.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2011). UNESCO ICT competency framework for teachers. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000213475
Waight, N., & Abd-El-Khalick, F. (2012). Nature of technology: Implications for design, development, and enactment of technological tools in school science classrooms. International Journal of Science Education, (34)18, 2875-2905.