In the spirit of developing solid professional development in a 1:1 environment, I’ve tried to key on some core concepts that have guided the manner in which I think about leading professional development in a 1:1 school. This is by no means a definitive (or remotely complete) list, but as the school year concludes, these are the concepts that have stuck out most:
1. It’s About the Students
Sometimes it’s hard for adults in a school building to remember this, especially as we struggle to understand a rapidly changing world of technology. For many adults, every time we feel like the technological ground beneath our feet has settled, another 9.0 earthquake shakes us loose. Meanwhile, we’re constantly assaulted with terms like “digital natives,” which implies that the students already “get” technology and therefore have nothing to be taught. They keys to overcoming this are first, there is no such thing as “digital natives.” Because a 15 year old can take instagram photos of their food and use ironic hashtags does not mean they understand the educative power of digital technology. After all, did teachers prior to 1995 refer to “library natives?” Because students have grown up with ubiquitous devices, it’s easy to be intimidated by their verbal shorthand. However, it is more important than ever to have great teachers teaching these students to be responsible, inquisitive, and curious in their use of these devices. As such, it’s imperative that we get over our fear of the generation gap and assert ourselves once again as educators. To do this, when facing adversity, fear, and situations in which we feel inadequate, we must remember that it is about the students.
2. Pedagogy Determines Technology, not Vice-Versa
Greg Kulowiec, of the terrific EdTechTeacher group, refers to this as “focusing on the verbs, not the nouns.” This is a solid message for professional development in the school for numerous reasons, but most important, it lets the faculty know that you’re (a) speaking their language (pedagogy), and (b) deliberate about the tech choices you are making and recommending. To increase faculty participation, this concept cannot be stressed enough.
3. Be Ready to Reconsider Everything
This is probably the hardest concept for teachers to grasp, as many have been “trained” to believe that Education Technology is about using tech devices in the classroom, nothing more. EdTech is more than software and hardware; it’s a mindset. Ubiquitous technology has given thoughtful teachers the ability to transform the entire education experience, but at the same time, it’s also given teachers afraid, unwilling, or unsupported the ability to actually do more harm than good through the use of tech in the classroom. Teachers have to understand that it’s not about how much tech is used in the classroom, but how thoughtfully the teacher has reconsidered her/his pedagogy to make the best use out of the time he/she has with students. To do that, everything must be reconsidered.
4. Ask Questions of Everyone
As more teachers become skilled in education technology, a school must become a place where everyone asks questions of everyone else. Instead of always going to “the tech guy,” teachers must feel comfortable going to their colleagues and asking them questions that are relevant both to the use of tech and the pedagogy specific to their classes, grades, disciplines, etc. After all, no lead teacher/curriculum head/director of technology can possibly have the same amount of wisdom that exists in the collective intelligence of the faculty. If the school becomes a place where, instead of having 1 or 2 “tech savvy” teachers that are the go-to for all tech questions, but instead becomes a place of shared knowledge about technology, teaching, and learning among all faculty and staff, the school will become an exponentially better place in which to learn.
This is the beginning of a much longer list, but I thought I’d start here. Feel free to comment on any additional “basics” you can think of, or throw a message to me on twitter. As the field of education technology grows, this conversation can only get better.