Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Instructional Technologist as a Coach: Impact of a Situated Professional Development Program on Teachers' Technology Use

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Instructional Technologist as a Coach: Impact of a Situated Professional Development Program on Teachers' Technology Use

Article excerpt

This article details a study that sought an alternative method to instruct public school teachers on how to integrate technology in their classrooms. Paired with a technology coach, nine teachers participated in this situated professional development technology program. Results from this technology coach program detail successful technology coaching approaches, activities, and skills, as well as the ability of this coach program to enable teachers to gain confidence in using technology in their classrooms. Details on how to best implement a technology coach or mentor program are recommended and a reexamination of instructional designer competencies is proposed.

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Two groups of obstacles affect teachers' ability to adopt and integrate technology within schools, namely external (e.g., lack of equipment) and internal (e.g., lack of confidence) factors (Ertmer, 1999; Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods 1999). Originally proposed by Ann Thompson (e.g., Thompson, Schmidt, & Hadjiyianni, 1995), a technology coach program can be a possible solution in overcoming these barriers, particularly internal or affective domain factors. Recently, several studies (Cole, Simkins, & Penul, 2002; Kariuki, Franklin, & Duran, 2001; Polselli, 2002; Smith, 2000; Smith & O'Bannon, 1999; Sprague, Kopfman, & de Levante Dorsey, 1998; Swan, Holmes, Vargas, Jennings, Meier, & Rubenfeld, 2002) have focused on the benefits of having a technology mentor or coach. Chuang, Thompson, and Schmidt (2003) also summarized and provided an overview of various faculty mentoring programs within higher education and public school settings. A technology coach (1), mentor, counselor, or a technology learning coordinator (Cole et al.) is assigned to a group of teachers to provide technology support and guidance. Similar to the concept of linking experienced teachers with novice teachers for professional development purposes (e.g., Anzul, 2000), a technology coach guides teachers in the use and integration of technology in their respective classrooms. These technology coaches take on an assortment of roles in this coach-teacher relationship, including "reviewer, director, monitor, facilitator, and evaluator" (Smith, 2000). Overall results from these studies indicated that an overwhelming number of teachers benefit from a technology coach program (e.g., Polselli, 2002).

Currently, public schools employ individuals, who provide technology assistance for teachers and school administrators. These individuals have an assortment of job titles, including technology facilitators, technology coordinators, technology specialists, and other similar titles. These individuals perform two main roles. One role is to troubleshoot problems with technological hardware and to resolve technical problems that the school may have. The other role focuses on supporting teachers and administrators in effectively instructing their students using an assortment of technologies. This latter role directly relates to a technology coach's activities and is the focus of this study. A "technology coach" role is found in various school districts across the nation. For example, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's IMPACT Guidelines for Media and Technology programs recommend that:

     The school library media coordinator and the instructional
     technology facilitator work closely with teachers, administrators,
     students, and support personnel. All of these people must be
     involved in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of an
     instructional program infused with media and technology (North
     Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2000).

A coach does not necessarily need to involve technology use. The key ingredient of a teacher-coach relationship is collaboration. In Boston Public Schools' coaching model, "the teacher(s), school leader, and coach engage, as colleagues, in a process of inquiry about how students learn and what are effective instructional practices that support student learning (Boston Public Schools, 2001). …

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