The ETCs have just completed two years of professional development for teachers and media specialists in the Title IID Teachers, Teamwork, and Technology (T3) grant. Here at the UGA ETC, we had our
final T3 meeting this week, and in the midst of sharing success stories through multimedia projects, teachers admitted they were more excited in the first year of the grant than the second year. After the
meeting, we pondered why this was the case, and we arrived at one conclusion. In the first year of the grant, the teachers get their new classroom technologies and are trained in how to use them. There is
much excitement as the teachers soak up new ideas about what they can do with the technologies in their instruction. By the second year of the grant, the teachers are comfortable with using the technologies
and are supposed to transition that knowledge and those skills to the students, but that’s where many of the teachers get stuck.
Integrating technology successfully requires a paradigm shift; it must be coupled with research based best practices such as student-centered learning and teacher facilitation in order to truly make a difference.
The temptation is to get the technology but keep it to yourself, and the result is that not much changes in terms of teaching and learning except there are fun new tools. Yet even the novelty of those tools will
wear off if a paradigm shift does not take place, and the cost of those technologies is too great to have such a short-lived impact.
Just a disclaimer, I am not faulting the teachers. It is not easy to make a paradigm shift, especially with all of the resources that are thrown at teachers with no additional time. I guess I am faulting us at the UGA
ETC. What could we have done differently in our professional development over the two years to help teachers make the transition from “I” to “They.”
Since our last T3 meeting, we have developed a little model to help us begin to think about this problem. It is a continuum of stages in which the technology user transitions from “I” to “They” with “We” and
“You” as points in the middle. The idea is that at the different stages you could start a sentence with “I,” “We,” “You,” and “They” respectively to speak about who is using the technology, with “They”
representing the greatest student-centered use.
So, in future two year grants, how can we help our teachers move from “I” to “They” in terms of technology integration and pedagogies in general? The first year of professional development is pretty much
locked in – we have to teach the teachers how to use the technology and get them comfortable with it. To move them into the “We” stage, we give examples of how the students can be pulled into the lessons
and be given opportunities to “touch” the technology. But what can we do in that second year to move them beyond into the “You” and “They” stages, where ultimately the students are producing new products
to demonstrate their learning and the teacher is facilitating and directing to lead the students to success?
I know this paradigm shift is hard enough without involving technology integration, and maybe the barriers are bigger than what we can overcome in two years of professional development, but we have to try,
So, what are your ideas? I would love to hear from you! As media specialists who often are charged with delivering professional development to teachers, what PD activities do you think will help teachers
make the transition?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Instructional Technology Specialist
University of Georgia Educational Technology Center