Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Technology for Teaching and Learning: Strategies for Staff Development and Follow-Up Support

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Technology for Teaching and Learning: Strategies for Staff Development and Follow-Up Support

Article excerpt

This article discusses the staff development strategies included in the technology plans of 27 school districts. There was evidence that districts were moving toward long-term development strategies as opposed to a series of "one-shot" activities. Many plans called for strategies for follow-up support and addressed various levels of teachers' concerns about the implementation of technology. Some evaluation efforts included measures of teacher and student performance. The article concludes with recommendations for strengthening technology staff development initiatives to increase the likelihood that they will result in improved teaching and learning

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Policy makers and administrators do not always support staff development for teachers. The typical rationale is easy to understand. Teachers describe negative staff development experiences in great detail. "Presenters were not familiar with the needs and interests of the teachers in the audience." "Participants were expected to sit still and listen to information that was irrelevant to their students." "The presenters demonstrated some interesting software, but there were no opportunities to try it ourselves!" It is not surprising that when workshops are over, many ideas that were presented go unused in classrooms. Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991) observed that "nothing has promised so much and has been so frustratingly wasteful as the thousands of workshops and conferences that led to no significant change in practice when the teachers returned to their classrooms" (p. 315). Unfortunately, their observation continues to strike a familiar chord.

On the other hand, staff development can be helpful. When groups of teachers are planning to implement new programs, staff development is often the first strategy they suggest. This is particularly true in the area of technology, and it reflects a continuing faith that staff development is an effective strategy for implementing change in education. There is broad recognition that teachers must have new knowledge and develop new skills and attitudes before they can teach others about technology or integrate technology into their classroom instruction in meaningful ways. In fact, many technology grant initiatives require a staff development plan as a condition for funding and then support the staff development strategies if the proposal is funded. However, the link between staff development and implementation is not automatic. Workshops and conferences, by themselves, do little to ensure that technology will be used in our schools and classrooms in ways that improve student learning.

Technology staff development is big business, and a continuing emphasis on technology in education provides a unique opportunity to shift the culture of staff development away from "one-shot dog and pony shows" to delivery models that promise more lasting effects. To accomplish that shift, staff development strategies must extend over time, respond to the needs and concerns of teachers, and impact student learning.

In 1995, the North Carolina General Assembly designated specific funds for educational technology. The funds were distributed to local school districts through a grants program administered by the NC Department of Public Instruction. Local district technology plans were required to specify needs, goals, and strategies in the areas of hardware, software, technical support, and staff development. This article presents the results of a review of the local technology plans of the 27 school districts in the northeastern part of the state. The purpose of the review was to identify the staff development strategies that were included in those plans and to highlight examples of strategies supported by research as most likely to result in improved teaching and learning. The results can be used to strengthen planning for technology initiatives. Research on staff development is reviewed first. …

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