Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Learning to Teach with Technology: Strategies for Inservice Professional Development

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Learning to Teach with Technology: Strategies for Inservice Professional Development

Article excerpt

This article describes and reports evaluation results for five key elements of the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project's inservice professional development program. The five elements are: (a) Technology Learning Coordinators (a mentoring system), (b) Minigrants (small local grants tied to a planning process for teachers), (c) Partnerships (partnering of teachers experienced with multimedia projects with novices), (d) Student Interviews (a project-wide organization for evaluating student projects), and (e) Multimedia Fairs (annual exhibitions of student multimedia projects). Each element could be used alone, but evidence suggests synergistic effects emerged when all five were used together. The program as a whole was successful in developing and disseminating effective strategies for technology use, and in finding a level of systemic support for teaching with technology that made strategic use of limited resources.

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What types of support help teachers become proficient with technology and use it as an effective tool? This question once seemed overwhelming, but over the past decade research has provided insight into the content and methods for professional development strategies most likely to be successful. This article reports the results of the teacher professional development strategies used in the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project. These strategies were built on prior research and are highly adaptable to schools and districts that aim to support and expand the integration of technology into their instructional programs.

THE CHALLENGE 2000 MULTIMEDIA PROJECT

In 1995, the Silicon Valley Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project--or the Multimedia Project, for short--was launched as one of the original 19 Technology Innovation Challenge Grants funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The purpose of these grants was to demonstrate, document, and disseminate cutting-edge ways technology could be used to improve education. The success of the Multimedia Project earned it recognition in September 2000 as one of only two educational technology programs nationwide to be cited as "exemplary" by the Department's Expert Panel on Educational Technology. Because the Multimedia Project sought to develop and infuse schools with exemplary educational uses for technology, it was primarily a teacher professional development project. This article describes important lessons and insights developed over the six years of the Multimedia Project. These insights describe how limited resources can be leveraged and used strategically to provide technical and pedagogical support for inservice tea chers who want to use technology as part of an effective instructional strategy.

At the core of the Multimedia Project was its instructional model, called Project-Based Learning Supported by Multimedia, or PBL+MM. PBL+MM is a method of teaching in which students acquire new knowledge and skills in the course of designing, planning, and producing a multimedia product. It is based on progressive educators' ideas about project-based learning from the early 20th century (Dewey, 1997; Kirkpatrick, 1918), but the product students create is a multimedia presentation. The PBL+MM model encompasses seven dimensions that combine to create a successful multimedia project for students and teachers: core curriculum, real-world connection, extended time frame, student-decision making, collaboration, assessment, and multimedia.

Multimedia Project participants included 150 classroom teachers who represent 50 schools in 11 school districts that span the 1,740 square-mile Silicon Valley region. For most of these teachers, multimedia was a new technology, and many had only passing experience with project-based learning. What they shared at the outset was an interest in learning more about technology and a desire to provide the best education possible for their students. …

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