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Design Effective Technology Staff Development Programs

15 December, 2015 - 13:04
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Hopefully, displaying examples of how we tie constructivist principles to the use of technology in the classroom will help you as you begin to plan staff development activities in your own school. Though we may be in agreement about the value and strength of constructivist learning theory, we must be cognizant of the fact that staff development programs must match individual school site needs with available resources utilizing an effective delivery method. Obviously then, we must guard against adopting "canned" methods or strategies for the development of technology staff development programs. Only through assessing the needs of your staff, their expertise and deficiencies, then considering your available resources, can you hope to create a method of delivering appropriate and sustaining professional development in technology.

Think for a moment about the existing staff development methods used in your school or district. If they are anything like the methods observed in most schools, they are heavily focused on workshops, with an occasional outside speaker from a nearby college or university. We have a tendency to select activities without considering how this activity helps to meet the goals and objectives of our school. Existing technology staff development is no exception. Much consists of "hit and miss" workshops related to hardware and/or software, with little tie to instructional theory and even less of a tie to what will help students achieve. Before we leave this thought, let me present the National Education Association Research Division's suggested 19 methods of staff development program delivery:

  1. Classes and courses
  2. Institutes
  3. Conferences
  4. Workshops
  5. Staff meetings
  6. Committee work
  7. Professional reading
  8. Field trips
  9. Travel
  10. Individual conferences
  11. Camping
  12. Work experience
  13. Teacher exchanges
  14. Research
  15. Professional writing
  16. Cultural experiences
  17. Professional association work
  18. Visits and demonstrations
  19. Community organizational work

Using our model of connecting technology use to constructivist teaching, will you agree that the list above provides many more opportunities than we thought available for designing effective, productive, (and fun) staff development programs for the use of technology to improve instruction.