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Leadership in Education Technology: Professional Development

Yesterday, I wrote about the two of the five elements best associated with planning for district or school wide technology integration. I looked at the big picture and setting goals/objectives. In this post, I'll address professional development.

Professional Development

As CIOs or any leaders in public education, we have to ensure that both staff and students understand how to use technologies to improve education services. But before we can establish a professional development plan to that end, we have to ascertain the educators' current technology proficiencies and integration skills. A few years ago, every school in California was required to conduct an annual assessment of their staff through the California Technology Assistance Project (CTAP). However, because of Governor Brown's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the CTAP project was dismantled and as such, the annual survey was no longer administered.

How you conduct your organization's needs assessment is obviously up to you but here are some thoughts and questions you may want to explore. First, it's important that you have an ongoing assessment plan in place. That is, a snapshot approach probably won't provide you with the best understanding of your staff's capacities. Your assessments should be conducted regularly to determine your educators' personal technology proficiency skills.

Second, beyond your staff's proficiency with technology use, you'll want to assess how teachers are using technologies to teach and assess standards-based curricula mastery. Do they have the class management strategies requisite for working with the technologies in the classroom? What about the administrators? Are they capable of supporting the teachers with integrating technologies into daily classroom practices?

I also recommend that the teachers themselves are consulted regarding their needs for professional learning. More often than not, they'll probably want very basic supports like learning about new applications for use. But it's more effective to consider providing more conceptual support as in methods for infusing creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. I highly recommend providing direct professional development on Dr. Ruben Puentedura's SAMR model.

Once you've got your data and analyzed it, it's time to plan some annual activities for providing the development opportunities that your evidence shows a need for. Remember, the point of the professional development should be to ensure educators are able to effectively accomplish the curricular goals. This means that your professional development plan MUST include components that support educators in making informed decisions using data to meet individual student academic needs.

Lastly, it's important to remember that technology isn't just for direct instruction and learning. It can just as well be used to assist with student assessment too. Does your organization need training regarding the use of technologies for assessment purposes? If so, you'll want to get started on designing a compelling and effective way to provide such learning opportunities for them.

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