How to Avoid Poor Tech Training Practices
Technology training for teachers usually fits into one of two categories.
Either it’s well-planned and effective because teachers received thorough training before using a new tech tool, or it’s a bust. Inadequate professional development is either frontloaded at the beginning of the year or thrown at teachers along the continuum.
Teachers don’t remember training when it all happens in the days before the academic year begins. They don’t appreciate training set up as afterthoughts – usually, once they failed to use the new technology properly.
There are better and more effective ways to provide technology training.
Blending formal and informal training
Like many universities, New Jersey-based Stevens Institute of Technology offers online courses. Many professors find themselves unfamiliar with the best practices for remote instruction. Therefore, Stevens has created a blended professional development program that helps instructors maximize the online format.
The university takes its instructors through a simulated course. The professors who want to teach online must first learn how to take classes online. They’re required to do all the work students do for course completion. By having the professors participate in discussion boards and submit work through digital portals, the university assures that the professors understand their students’ experiences with online learning.
Other higher education institutions team their faculty with technical designers. They also offer opportunities for professors to meet with colleagues facing the same issues.
By merging formal and informal training, the universities are doing a better job of preparing to use technology in their classes.
Engage your teachers
The best way to accomplish anything is to model the behavior you want to see. If you think students must participate in hands-on activities involving technology, why wouldn’t you expect the same thing from your teachers?
Instead of assigning more study modules or another lunch training to catch up, get your teachers involved. Let them explore the simulations in virtual reality. Invite them to makerspaces where they can create things. Use gamification to engage and excite your teachers about learning and teaching in new ways.
Make professional development a priority
Too often, teacher training takes a backseat to everything else that has to be done at school. Until education leaders make teacher training for technology their priority, teacher skills will lag. Your instructional staff will never feel as though they have mastered the tech skills they need to do their jobs.
It’s unreasonable to ask teachers to use a new edtech program like a learning management system without training them how to use it. If your school has adopted a “fly by the seat of your pants” approach to teacher development, it’s time to change it.
Take an approach similar to that of higher education. Encourage teachers to first learn as students. Then provide ample opportunity to collaborate and reflect on instructional practice. Make sure you provide both formal and informal opportunities for training.
Teachers recognize that their students don’t all learn the same way. It’s time to do the same for our teachers.