I was recently emailed the following question from an educator considering the move to one to one.
What have you seen as an appropriate/adequate/effective amount of PD for schools that have implemented 1–1? (Before the students received the computers and thereafter.)
Professional development is certainly one of the key factors for success or failure for one-to-one schools. My thoughts on this question are presented below.
There doesn’t really seem to be an easy answer to this question. The best way to address this is really through a shift in mindset. All PD should really strive to address ways to find the best tools than can enhance whatever the PD focus is. It is pretty easy to argue that technology is one of the very most powerful tools to do this. For example…
- If your staff is focusing on project based learning, think of all of the ways that can be enhanced with technology tools. The ability to create grows exponentially with technology.
- If your staff is focusing on rigor and relevance, technology can also serve as a tool to provide a much richer experience for students.
- If your staff is focusing on student engagement, there are all kinds of technology tools that can help engage students. (If you don’t know what they are, ask your students to help find them!)
These are just a few of the many ways that technology can connect to professional development. There are other features that are important to consider when designing PD. I would recommend differentiating PD. This should be differentiated by skill level, but there also needs to be a time for content alike teachers to converse with one another. The Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework describes the overlap of those three areas to achieve truly high levels of technology integration. Without those content alike conversations, some teachers may have a difficult time bringing new tools into their specific classrooms. Although differentiation is key, it is also important to develop a set of tools that are applicable to all educators. One way to think of this is as building a common foundation or knowledge for all teachers. In What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, Pamela Livingston and Chris Lehman posed a question with that theme in their one-to-one chapter.
What are the essential technological tools that all teachers should know how to use?
A final focus I would stress for PD is to develop leaders within your building who have the capacity to help lead PD and problem solve with other teachers. Send those teachers to a conference or two each year to stay ahead of the curve. Give them some time, maybe a half-day each month, to explore and play with new technologies. Although there is a time and place for “outsiders” to come in and help, your district will be money ahead by developing their own experts.
Schools failure to invest in PD once they have moved to one-to-one is one of the most common mistakes I have witnessed at one-to-one schools. That lack of investment can certainly make the transition to one-to-one a poor investment as well.