Editor’s Note: Master-teachers provide leadership for tomorrow’s classroom teachers. They share their accumulated experiences as they react with the next generation of teachers. In the process, old ideas are revised and new ideas are generated. Some best practices persist in time even though the environment changes.
Time, Support and Follow-up:
The Keys to Successful Professional Development.
Susan Abramson Lancaster
Twenty technology resource teachers (TRTs) participated in a study to determine the relationship between TRTs and the delivery of job-embedded professional development. Evaluation focused on collecting data through questionnaires, open-ended questions, surveys, and interviews. The questionnaires and interviews were conducted with Kentucky TRTs who had, as defined in their job descriptions, been responsible for delivering professional development for longer than 1 year.
This study concentrated on common concerns, strengths, and weaknesses of the job-embedded professional development model. Teachers, as adult learners, use a different learning style than their students. Therefore, professional development providers are required to accommodate the needs of the adult learning style. The objectives of this study were to determine the relationship between TRTs and the delivery of job-embedded professional development and to share that information with other providers of technology-related professional development.
The study determined that TRTs believe that technology can enhance learning, support effective instruction, and engage students. The participants concurred that teachers should not be barriers to allowing the students to integrate technology into their work. Technology is a tool that can change instruction, and the purpose of technology integration is to prepare students for careers of the future. The participants valued the role and support of principals and administrators, determined that time is an issue related to technology-related professional development, and believed that job-embedded professional development can enhance teaching and affect student learning. Follow-up is perceived to be a key component of professional development, and successful integration of technology resources occurs best when paired with content and curriculum activities.
How can schools implement professional development to prepare teachers to integrate technology activities successfully into their content area classes? Many schools respond that a technology resource teacher (TRT) best provides job-embedded professional development for teachers and students.
The study of the relationship between TRTs and their role as providers of job-embedded professional development represented an opportunity to demonstrate that TRTs provide a much needed service for teachers and students endeavoring to integrate technology into content area classes. Although the focus of this study was based upon the Kentucky model, job-embedded professional development concerns teachers and students globally. Determining the concerns of job-embedded professional development providers may shape changes in classrooms throughout the world. The ultimate goal of technology integration is to provide hands-on experiences for students to use technology when completing their content area assignments.
In order to effectively meet the needs of teachers, TRTs must be prepared to deliver Professional Development (PD) in a manner appropriate for adults. In doing so, PD providers develop a skill set separate from the skills they use when working with students. Adults learn differently than children. Knowles (1980) identified the learning theory of adult learners as andragogy. Successful delivery of PD warrants consideration for the way adults learn. When teaching adult learners, PD providers might consider and incorporate Knowles’ seven steps: (1) set a cooperative learning climate; (2) create mechanisms for mutual planning; (3) arrange for a diagnosis of learner needs and interests; (4) enable the formulation of learning objectives based on the diagnosed needs and interests; (5) design sequential activities for achieving the objectives; (6) execute the design by selecting methods, materials, and resources; and (7) evaluate the quality of the learning experience while re-diagnosing needs for further learning (Carlson, 1989).
Adults prefer learning situations that are practical and problem centered, promote their positive self-esteem, and integrate new ideas with their existing knowledge. The PD provider must show respect for the individual learner, capitalize on the participant’s experience, and allow choice and self-direction (Sweeny, 1996). When adults invest time in learning new skills, they want to see the relevance of the information, the connection of the information to their work setting, as well as have the time to practice, master, and become the owner of the new skills. Teachers, as adult learners, want to feel comfortable with the new information in order to answer questions, provide guidance, and keep their students on task.
Characteristics of effective staff development include, but are not limited to, (a) involvement by the staff in the planning, (b) time, (c) administrative support, (d) established expectations, (e) opportunity for sharing, practice, continuity, and follow-up (Hassel, 1999). Kentucky Revised Statutes (as cited in Hauser, 2002) defined professional development as, “those experiences which systematically over a sustained period of time, enable educators to acquire and apply knowledge, understanding, skills, and abilities to achieve personal, professional, and organizational goals, and to facilitate the learning of students” (p. 2). The features of job-embedded professional development are (a) follow-up, (b) peer interaction, (c) mentoring, (d) coaching, (e) modeling, (f) demonstration, (g) collaborative problem solving, and (h) self-directed learning (Hauser).
The stated purpose of professional development is to facilitate the learning of students. Engaging participants in meaningful activities will result in changes to classrooms and to students. Teachers who use technology to support instruction may achieve the ultimate goal of helping students have the opportunity to use technology in their assignments.
Statement of Method
A group of twenty technology resource teachers participated in this study to determine the relationship between TRTs and the delivery of job-embedded professional development. Evaluation focused on collecting data through questionnaires, open-ended questions, surveys, and interviews. The responses from the questionnaires were used to collect qualitative data (Brown, 2000). The questionnaires and interviews were utilized with TRTs who have, as defined in their job descriptions, been responsible for delivering professional development for more than one year. These teachers were selected from each of the eight regional educational divisions in Kentucky. The interviews included a series of structured questions in a prepared questionnaire and followed up with personal interviews to, according to Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996), “probe more deeply to obtain additional information” (p. 310). After the interviews were completed, the transcribed text was studied for direct quotes that captured the personal perceptions and experiences of the TRTs who were interviewed. Information from the structured questions in the questionnaire was cross-checked with the responses given during the interviews. The study looked for common threads, statements, or expressions from the respondents with regard to offering job-embedded professional development to adult learners.
The limitations of this study were determined by the information gathered during the interviews and the willingness of those persons interviewed to share both good and bad experiences from offering professional development to teachers. The demographic data was gathered from the initial survey completed by the participating TRTs. This data was used to develop an awareness of the age, gender, years of teaching experience and created a ‘snapshot’ of the pool of teachers who participated in the study. The goal of the qualitative study was to understand the social phenomena, holistically and in depth. The study was inductive, made observations, then drew conclusions. The data collection involved interviews and the data analysis was inductive. The validity and reliability were determined by: confirmability, credibility, dependability, triangulation and trustworthiness of the responses to the written survey and the interview questions (Sorensen & Dorsch, 2001).
Technology Integration and Teaching
Technology and teaching have forged a strong partnership as the information age contributed to reshaping education. By using computers, students today have access to the Internet and productivity tools at home and at school. Students can process information and solve problems, develop multimedia projects, and increase personal productivity. Computers have changed the way students learn and have become valuable educational tools. “Teachers must learn how to use technology to promote the students’ understanding of key concepts within a subject matter and help them achieve high standards of learning,” (National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, 2000, p. 25).
Student achievement in America cannot change unless teachers use more effective instructional methods (Slavin, 1996). Technology has changed education and allows the teacher to become more of a facilitator for learning and less of a dispenser of knowledge (Herr, 2000; Johnson, 2001). The New England schoolroom model of the 1700s with the teacher leading instruction from the front of the room, “sage on the stage,” has shifted to the role of the teacher as the “guide on the side.” This shift from a teacher-centered to a student-centered environment allows the instructor to become a facilitator who guides the learners through the learning process and encourages students to be active in their learning (Leh, 2001). Rather than maintain the role of omniscient dispenser of knowledge, the teacher can become a coach who challenges and encourages students to use all aspects of the technology menu to learn more, to process information more effectively, and to develop conclusions independently. Therefore, introducing technology into the classroom helps the teacher become an effective facilitator of knowledge.
Technology-enhanced education allows teachers to benefit from cooperation with others by the exchange of lesson plans cooperative projects, the implementation of higher learning standards, and the capability to learn from experts in various fields. Teaching and the teacher’s is changing as teacher transforms from a lecturer to a mentor of student learning through inquiry. The key recommendation of President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (2001) was to make effective integration of information technology with education and training a national priority (Reddy & Wladawsky-Berger). The ultimate goal of professional development is to improve student learning (Sparks, 2002). Successful technology professional development includes these principles: (a) setting relevant, realistic goals; (b) involving all stakeholders and capitalizing on all resources; (c) linking professional development to teacher and student needs and objectives; (d) modeling best practices; (e) encouraging by doing; and (f) providing resources, incentives, and ongoing support. The technique of learning by doing is extremely effective. The learning environment should empower teachers and students to learn to use technology through practical experience. Teachers should use technology to access professional development resources on-line and at a distance. Teachers should use technology to communicate and to exchange ideas with peers and experts around the world. Students should also be encouraged to learn by doing and to share new knowledge with peers (CEO Forum, 1999).
Certain conditions should exist in a school for teachers to pursue professional development so they can implement useful applications of technologies in their classroom (Ringstaff et al., 1996). These include (a) administrative leadership, (b) shared vision, (c) opportunities for reflection and collaboration, (d) a long-term professional development plan, and (e) other supportive conditions. Classroom teachers are much more likely to teach other teachers how to use technology because teaching is their area of expertise. Teachers may not know all of the intricacies of a digital camera, but teachers are able to determine how to use the digital camera with the curriculum they teach. Teachers within a school become credible instructors who represent the best possible solution for supporting professional development.
Connectivity to the Internet changes classrooms by permitting instant contact with parents, other teachers, experts in the field, and resources and information. E-mail can be used to contact parents, to plan field trips, and to reach community members. Even reluctant students can find a “voice” in the classroom by e-mailing the teacher, as well as other students in their classes and around the globe, to publish writing in their online-blog (Medina, Pigg, Desler, & Gorospe, 2001).
“Teachers need high quality professional development that leads to a professional community centered round the integration of technology into the curriculum,” reported Hart, Allensworth, Lauden, and Gladden (2002, p.1). Experienced classroom teachers look for technology assistance by turning first to their peers (Jones, 2001, Becker, 1994). Teachers continue to require job-embedded professional development, not an occasional professional development 3-hour training session, to feel truly comfortable with the tools and to integrate fully technology into their curriculum (Johnson, 2001; Willis & Raines, 2001). “Professional development can no longer be viewed as an event that occurs on a particular day of the year; it must become part of the daily work life of educators,” (Cook (1997, p. 2).
Technology as a tool has the potential to transform learning inside and outside of the classroom. Eib (2001) suggested that when looking for a technology-rich classroom, it is not just what is seen during the observation and evaluation that determines the successful use of technology by teachers. Technology integration is an ongoing process that makes a significant difference to the learning of the students. Excellent technology teachers have demonstrated the ability to teach the concepts included in the content curriculum at the appropriate grade level by using appropriate examples, analogies, and strategies. Including technology activities ensures a higher level of learning for all.
Professional development should focus on student-learning outcomes and should provide job-embedded training for the teacher. This type of professional development can best be accomplished by peer coaching, study groups, and curriculum integration. Well-planned, on-going professional development tied to the school’s curriculum is essential for teachers to learn to use technology to promote student learning (Rodriguez, 2000).
Glennan and Melmed (2000) identified three common characteristics that enable schools to use technology well: (1) adequate time, (2) responsive assistance to teachers and to administrators, and (3) a clear vision to guide the technology program. Adequate time translates to schools finding opportunities for teachers to learn new technology, to collaborate with other teachers, and to organize curriculum. Suggestions include providing teachers with the authority and flexibility to adjust daily instructional schedules, to develop curriculum objectives that allow time each day for teachers to meet, to plan, and to provide time for teachers to reflect on their practice (Hart et al., 2002).
The U.S. Department of Education (2002) report, E-Learning: Putting a World Class Education at the Fingertips of All Children, stressed the importance of technology-related teacher professional learning. This report stressed that “states and districts should make professional development a priority to increase the quantity, quality, and coherence of technology-focused activities aimed at the professional development of teachers” (p 38). The report proposes that all teachers use technology effectively to help students achieve high academic standards. Teachers must help administrators understand what technology makes possible for their students (Wepner & Tao, 2002).
A teacher’s attitude toward technology may impact how technology is used for teaching and learning. Students who are taught by teachers who attend technology staff developments do better on tests than students who are taught by teachers who do not attend technology staff development. In describing the requirements for effective professional development, Brown (2000) cites the importance of putting the focus on the curriculum and instruction, not the technology; expecting teachers to become active participants in planning, implementing, and expanding the use of technology in the classroom; sustaining training by follow-up and support; and providing teachers with mentors with whom they can work. Brown concludes that successful professional development requires time, budget, and administrative support.
School districts spend less than one quarter of their computer budgets for training, despite the knowledge that well-trained teachers determine the success of meaningful integration of technology into content related classes (Farenga & Joyce, 2001). Despite increased access to computers and related technology for students and teachers, schools experience difficulty in effectively integrating these technologies into existing curricula. The lack of teacher training is one of the greatest roadblocks to integrating technology into a school’s curriculum. To be effective, staff development training must be extensive, hands-on and timely, and an ongoing activity. Professional development is strengthened by follow-up sessions that offer the time, support, and opportunity for teachers to reflect on how they might use technology in their teaching.
Professional development planning requires a focus on the teacher’s top priority, which is helping students to learn (Sun, Heath, Byrom, Phlegar, & Dimock, 2000). Technology integration can become a catalyst for changing instructional strategies. Effective use of technology allows a teacher to adopt better instructional practices: first the learning, then the teaching, and then the technology. Technology success begets additional technology success as teachers and students celebrate the variety of ways in which they have integrated technology into content classes and projects. Success then becomes focused on the learning and not on the technology. This seamless merger may be the strongest test to evaluate true integration.
Job-Embedded Professional Development
Professional development should no longer be an event that takes place on one particular day of the school year. Teachers must view professional development as a part of their daily work. Ongoing professional development can be incorporated into teachers' daily work through (a) joint planning, (b) research, (c) curriculum and assessment work, (d) study groups, and (e) peer coaching (Richardson, 1996). The Kentucky Standards of Professional Development (as cited in Hauser, 2002) indicate that professional development should focus on what learners are to know and be able to do to support student learning and well-being based on national standards, academic expectations and school-aligned curriculum. Professional development actively engages learners in the use of effective, varied, and research-based practices to improve student and staff performance and reduce barriers; is data-driven and results-driven; and fosters an effective learning community.
National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching (NPEAT, 1997) Standards indicate that professional development should be: connected to a comprehensive change process focused on improving student learning, primarily school-based and built into the day-to-day work of teaching, and continuous and ongoing, involving follow-up and support for further learning.
Administrative support must be committed to make technology a priority by writing grants, forming corporate partnerships, accepting donations, and implementing pilot programs. Supporting technology costs a lot of money because there is always new technology being developed. Technology availability is strongly associated with the principal’s and or administrator’s support (Hart et al., 2002).
Job-embedded, peer-to-peer modeling of technology skills and professional development activities reflect the essence of highly effective on-the-job training (Marsh, 2001). Teachers view other teachers as their role models. Today’s issue is no longer about creating the interest of the teachers for using computers; the challenge is to find the time and most efficient methods to show teachers how to make the best use of the equipment they have in their classrooms (Marsh).
Research findings indicate that teachers utilizing computers expect more from students, spend more time with individual students, are more comfortable with students working independently or in small groups, and spend less time lecturing and teaching to the whole class. These teachers are willing to take more risks and see themselves more as coaches and facilitators. Teachers using technology collaborate more with other teachers, which results in a more productive work setting, and a better sense of professional competence (Johnson, 1999). The digital divide does not create a disadvantage for students, rather the disadvantage occurs when a teacher chooses not to use technology with his or her students.
Fifteen women (75%) and 5 men (25%) participated in the study. The number of males in this study mirrors the number of men in education according to the National Education Association (2003) study. According to the data collected in 2001, 21% of the teaching population was male, and 79% was female. A condition for participation in the study was for the TRTs to have been in that position for at least 1 year. One hundred percent of the TRTs who were interviewed worked at the district level. One hundred percent of the TRTs agreed that the computer is an important educational tool, that technology plays a role in strengthening student skills, that technology helps to promote student engagement in the classroom and project-based learning, and that technology contributes to strengthening educational objectives such as engaging students in the classroom activities.
Providers of professional development identify time as a key consideration, issue, and factor. Whether the professional development occurs during the school day, after school, or in the summer, time remains a paramount concern and a vital factor to the teachers. Time becomes a consideration because teachers have so many commitments before they come to school and when they leave. After school training is problematic because everyone is so exhausted from being at school all day.
When is the best time to offer training? With many schools adopting alternative calendars, some training has been scheduled for the breaks when teachers are not meeting with students. Schools with alternative schedules can offer training during the 2-week break periods in October, December, and in the spring. Training is more effective if there is plenty of time so participants are not rushed.
TRTs are instrumental in providing training on professional development days although, in most districts, professional development topics are decided at the district level. The TRTs reported that some teachers attend professional development days because they need to or because they are required to attend; however, the mandated learning never sustains itself. Teachers attend the classes, but their investment in learning does not grow. Job embedded professional development differs from mandated training, because the TRT provides ‘just-in-time training’ traveling to meet with teachers at any time during the day.
Time is a horrible, horrible problem, indicated one TRT. As the only TRT for 350 teachers in his district, there is no way to assist everyone. Despite trying several models, the TRT realized he would spend more time with some schools and some teachers. Sometimes, the result is that 50% of teachers are using the TRT 100% of the time and some teachers never see the TRT. Some TRTs focus on one grade level such as working with third-grade teachers and students. Generally, a TRT will go where he or she is requested. According to the interview information provided by a TRT, when someone says, “I need you,” then, the first part of the battle has been won. If teachers ask for help, they are saying they cannot learn the technology alone.
TRTs indicated that the most effective use of time was to work with the teacher during class time or during planning time. Job-embedded professional development is described as the best option due to time constraints on teachers. Job-embedded professional development offers real time training which is more relevant and teachers do not have to stay after school, work weekends, or attend classes in the summer. Teachers are already at work and the training is not an imposition on the teachers’ time.
TRTs indicated in their written comments that they received adequate support from principals and teachers. In the interviews, the TRTs attributed a significant degree of importance to the principal who serves as the instructional leader of a school. Teachers follow the leadership model set by the principal’s attitude toward technology. A principal can encourage teachers who are not technology users. Conversely, without the motivation from the principal, there will be little incentive for the teachers to integrate technology into content area classes. If the principal acts as an advocate for technology then that principal’s push is significant. For change to occur, it is vital to have support of the administrator. If the administrator does not use technology, then the teachers may not use technology. TRTs pointed out that when a principal has the vision of technology integration, it makes all of the difference regarding teacher and student expectations for the usage of technology in that school.
Job-embedded PD can effectively occur when the principal hires substitutes to cover classes a grade level at a time so that teachers were relieved to attend technology professional development during the school day. All grade level teachers receive professional development training for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then the substitutes rotate to the next grade level classes. The TRT had the opportunity to see every teacher in that building in 1 day for 1 hour and 15 minutes per rotation. As a result professional development continued to build on the skills of the previous training.
The TRTs reported that as the administrators feel more comfortable with technology, the administrator values the integration and use of technology and understand what teachers are asked to do with technology. The TRT often represents a safe person for the administrator to ask for technology assistance and becomes the administrator’s own technology resource. Sometimes, TRTs reported, the best way to get invited into a school is to help the principal with his or her technology needs. The principal will, in turn, give his support to the TRT and make a difference in supporting teachers and students with their technology usage.
Principals who understand about the power of integrating technology may be younger principals who may feel compelled to have technology used in the building.
Principals who have the vision will ask for help with school plans and will talk about the possibilities. Often, the TRT is requested for training in a school based on the importance of technology to the principal. If the principal sees the value of technology, the teachers are aware of what the principal values and will strive to please the principal. Teachers, even the reluctant teachers, will try on even a small scale to use technology to please principals who value technology and have visions for their schools.
Partnering with content specialists makes technology integration more relevant in some districts. Content resource teachers can become strong advocates for technology integration. Many integrated teaching teams find ways to embed technology into interdisciplinary units. For example, if the subject matter deals with Columbus’s ships, then a reading assignment in language arts, a science activity focusing on waves and winds, and a math grid can each involve some aspect of technology. In one class, each student had a cell on a grid that they drew to represent a section of the ship. The result was a life size, scale chalk drawing of the vessel. The last step in the social studies based project was the creation of a videotape containing all of the information the students had researched on the Internet and learned to create the drawing.
In many middle and high schools, TRTs can suggest small changes. Too often, traditional middle and high school teachers still believe that all students must be doing the same thing at the same time, although newer teachers are often more computer literate.
In the interviews, TRTs conveyed excitement regarding schools and districts where technology is in use. The computers come on, the printers work, the Internet is on, and teachers are using technology to enhance instruction. TRTs described situations where the students are engaged and actively involved in their learning. Usually, when students are engaged, there are fewer, if any, discipline problems in that classroom. Students with learning disabilities work more freely when using computers. Technology can be adapted to assist the students with reading needs and technology can help to level the playing field for all students. Technology integration is about the end product and getting technology into the hands of the students. Integration is not about the software, it is about how the tools are used to support instruction.
TRTs becomes the critical follow-up tool regardless of when the training is offered. Frequently, communication is a part of the follow-up service. Communication includes e-mailing, phone calls, or answering questions.
Learning to use technology, indicated one teacher, totally changed all of her teaching strategies. She eloquently explained that teachers, like their students, are all gifted; some just open their packages sooner than others. She firmly believes that technology integration can change the way a teacher teaches.
The TRTs indicate that they see their roles changing, for when they began in this role, the original focus was on technology Now the focus is on integrating the technology to support and enhance instruction within the curriculum. The change that has occurred reflects the integration of technology as a tool for change and the belief that technology should be a part of all lessons. Technology appears to be changing the way teachers teach and students learn as students today realize the potential of the Internet as a research tool and are more actively engaged in their learning. Technology appears to be changing the way teachers teach and students learn. The challenge will be to continue to develop effective ways to use the technology to support the curriculum.
A TRT acknowledged that educators who do not utilize technology cheat their students. Technology integration helps students learn to become more critical thinkers and problem solvers and technology classes help students learn problem-solving skills that they are able to apply to other areas of their lives. Often scores on state assessments reflect those problem-solving skills, in part because technology experiences have taught students the value of looking for alternative solutions. Learning has become more student-centered when the learning is delivered into the hands of the students. The question of equity in a student’s educational experience is affected by a teacher who does not use technology versus a teacher who does use technology in the classroom.
An important observation suggested honoring the teachers as the subject-matter experts, thus allowing the TRT to pursue the role of a resource who suggests ways to use technology to enhance the lesson. His concluding comment represents the prevailing enthusiasm of all of the subjects who participated in the interviews. “I love what I do. I think it is one of the best jobs I have ever had. I love this job!”
TRTs recognize that the purpose of their work is to facilitate the integration of technology into all content area classes. The TRTs unanimously agreed that technology (a) plays a role in strengthening student skills, (b) helps promote student engagement in the classroom, (c) contributes to strengthening educational objectives, and (d) helps to prepare students for future jobs. Successful partnerships were being forged between the technology specialists and the curriculum consultants resulting in training that blended technology skills in collaboration with the appropriate curriculum applications. Previous models of solely offering tool training were no longer considered an appropriate use of technology training time.
Job-embedded professional development, which provides technology training to teachers during the school day, allows an effective use of time and training for already overworked, stressed teachers. By providing on-demand training, TRTs are able to assist teachers where, when, and how they need to learn new skills. Job-embedded professional development enables TRTs to (a) offer one-on-one training for teachers, (b) model lessons for students, (c) coach teachers, and (d) collaborate with administrators.
Successful staff development incorporates strategies to advance student success. The ultimate goal of infusing technology into the schools must be to get students to learn more (Solomon, 1998). Technology integration depends on professional competency. Educators must learn to use technology throughout the curriculum in unique and creative ways (Coughlin & Lemke, 1999). Technology training for teachers is an important component of successful technology implementation by students. Professional development for educators must be tied to the curriculum and sustained by adequate funding (West, 2002 and Bybee 2001). Effective use of technology depends on adequate training of teachers (Brand, 1997) that is supported by ongoing sessions that provide the time, support, and opportunity for teachers to reflect on technology integration in to their content area classes (Byrom & Bingham, 2001).
This study corroborates the belief that teachers are the key in determining if technology will be used effectively (Trotter, 1999). Although fewer than 20% of all schools have full-time technology coordinators (Kerrey, 2000), teachers successfully demonstrate that they can act as models for others (Hart et al., 2002). Consistent with the research findings of Wolinsky (1999), this study also suggests that one-on-one, just-in-time, on-demand training changes the technology culture in schools that have access to a technology resource teacher.
Interpretation of the Findings
A consistent principle that resulted from analyzing the interview information is that these professionals view true technology integration as getting the technology into the hands of the students and using the content as the means to accomplish this task. All of the participants in this study expressed the conviction that technology is a tool that, if used properly, can enhance learning, support effective instruction, and engage students. They agreed it is important to get technology into the hands of students in order to address the needs of students with alternative learning styles and to provide students with alternate methods of technology-based instruction. All of the participants agreed that (a) teachers should not be barriers to allowing the students to integrate technology into their work, (b) technology is a tool that can change instruction, and (c) the purpose of technology integration is to prepare students for careers of future.
Synthesis of the interview data also revealed these results:
The teacher’s role is to ensure that students have technology rich curriculum experiences. Integration should be used to support instruction and not be viewed as ‘an add-on’.
Technology integration changes the way that teaching occurs. Classrooms that use technology tend to be more student centered, research focused, and project based.
The principal sets the tone in a school as the instructional leader. When the principal has the vision regarding the importance of technology, teachers are encouraged, evaluated, and enthusiastic about the possibilities that technology can bring to their classrooms.
Integration is not limited to or by grade level. The principal contributes to the level of successful integration in a school without respect to the grade organization in that building. The principal determines the success of technology in the building; the teacher determines the success of technology integration in the classroom.
Time is an issue when offering technology-related professional development. Although there is no ideal solution about when professional development should be offered, there appears to be significant consensus that job-embedded training offers the best possible resolution for teachers. Follow-up is perceived to be a key component in moving teachers toward technology integration. Successful integration of technology resources occurs best when paired with content and curriculum activities.
Technology is perceived to be a motivational tool for teaching because technology is a significant element in the lives of students. Technology has become an important tool to increase student learning via the research potential of the Internet and e-mail possibilities. Technology skills will continue to be a necessity as students enter the 21st century job market.
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About the Author
Susan A. Lancaster
Susan Abramson Lancaster is a technology and professional development resource teacher for adult learners, She believes in the potential of seamless technology integration in K-12 and higher education content classrooms. Dr. Lancaster, the MarcoPolo 2004 Field Trainer-of-the-Year, currently teaches technology integration to pre-service teachers at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
Susan A. Lancaster
c/o 11403 Tartans Landing Road
Goshen, KY 40026