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Technology in Schools
NCES 2003-313
November 2002

Chapter 6: Professional Development, Technology in Schools: Suggestions, Tools, and Guidelines for Assessing Technology in Elementary and Secondary Education

"...When professional development is redefined as a central part of teaching, most decisions and plans related to embedding professional development in the daily work life of teachers will be made at the local school level. Some reformers have recommended that at least 20 percent of teachers' work time should be given to professional study and collaborative work....The National Education Association...recommends that 50 percent of teachers' time be given to professional development."

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, from "Critical Issue: Finding Time for Professional Development," Pathways to School Improvement, 1997


What to Expect from This Chapter

  • Resources and ideas for evaluating professional development programs
  • Suggestions for tracking training needs
  • Ideas to improve professional development in schools
  • What to look for in professional development programs
  • How to evaluate professional development in general

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Key Questions for this Chapter

  1. What technology-related training and/or professional development do staff receive?
  2. What are the goals, methods, incentives, and content of technology-related training and/or professional development for staff?
  3. How are training and/or professional development for staff evaluated?

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Overview

Using technology in the school setting requires training (to develop the knowledge and skills to apply the tools) and professional development (to understand and apply the technology in instruction and school management).

Ideally, technological tools should be a seamless part of the school environment, requiring no more prior learning to apply than, say, electricity. Teachers and students would use technological tools-or not-in learning situations, depending on whether they helped one to learn in that context. If research were required, students would conduct it at the school digital library or at a remote resource as needed. School administrative records and cafeteria food requirements would be updated automatically from entry-screening systems, or perhaps the attendance software on a teacher's personal digital assistant (PDA).

But the technological tools available do not fit together this seamlessly yet, and teachers and staff (and students) need training and professional development in order to make the best use of technology in schools. In fact, providing sufficient development and training to give staff skills and confidence in the use of technology is widely viewed as an ongoing challenge to schools. Calls have repeatedly been made to increase funding for professional development; the recently reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001," Public Law 107-110) has included in its support for technology the requirement that 25 percent of the funds be devoted to training and professional development.

It is for this reason that assessing the status of training and professional development delivery is important: users of this handbook know that it is critical and that not enough may be reaching the persons who need it. Technology use also has to be taught in the context of educational or management activities, which means that measuring the extent of "pure" technology preparation is very difficult.

In the remainder of this chapter, the term professional development will be used to stand for both training and professional development. Although the handbook authors recognize the differences between these terms, it is awkward to keep referring to both concepts separately when, for purposes of assessment, they are dealt with together.

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Defining Professional Development

This guide uses the term professional development to represent learning activities of all kinds for school staff that prepare them to use technology in the school setting. Included under the term are activities such as the following:

  • familiarization with the operation of equipment and software;
  • development of proficiency in the use of the technology "tools" to carry out school tasks;
  • the application of software and applications to the management of school activities, whether instructional or administrative; and
  • the integration of technology into teaching, learning, and administrative processes.

Professional development, for the purposes of this chapter, is explicitly understood to extend to administrative and support staff whose jobs have changed and will continue to change due to the infusion of technology in schools. Professional development includes support for teachers and staff as they apply technology to their evolving practices, from lesson plans and curriculum integration to recordkeeping and administrative functions. It is an ongoing process that cannot be satisfied with one-time training in a particular technology.

Indicators for assessing teacher and administrative use of technology and proficiency levels are given in Chapter 7, Technology Integration; indicators for technology support are found in Chapter 5, Maintenance and Support.

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Key Questions and Indicators

The three key questions and their indicators below deal with, in order, how much technology-related training is provided to staff, what that training consists of, including its methods and goals, and lastly, if and how such training is evaluated.

In Chapter 7, the assessment of technology proficiency is discussed, and, in that context, a series of standards for teacher preparation in technology literacy are referenced. These standards, and others adopted by states (see, for example, the Virginia standards for technology also cited in Chapter 7), provide a basis for designing professional development opportunities for teachers. Similar benchmarks are available for school administrators (again, see the Technology Standards for School Administrators reference in Chapter 7), although not for administrative support staff.

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What technology-related training and/or professional development do staff receive?

This key question and its indicators relate to tracking hours and participation percentages for recordkeeping purposes.

In addition to the above-mentioned standards, there are guidelines available to technology planners and administrators, providing ideas on what professional development for technology use should encompass. Broad categories, such as those in "Critical Issue: Providing Professional Development for Effective Technology Use," developed by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), can be helpful in planning what types of courses to include. The NCREL report lists the following desirable elements: a connection to student learning; hands-on technology use; variety in learning experiences; curriculum-specific applications; new roles for teachers; collegial approaches to learning; active participation of teachers; ongoing process; sufficient time; technical assistance and support; administrative support; adequate resources; continuous funding; and built-in evaluation. (See Resources for further detail.)

The Michigan State Department of Education has also developed standards for professional development with indicators divided into categories of context, process, and content that may prove helpful in assessing technology-related staff training. (See the sidebar topic "Standards for Professional Development.")

INDICATORS

Technology-related training and/or professional development for instructional staff Total hours of professional development received by instructional staff in the most recent academic year, per instructional staff FTE.
Hours of technology-related professional development received by instructional staff in the most recent academic year, per instructional staff FTE.
Percentage of hours of technology-related professional development to total hours of professional development received by instructional staff.
Percentage of instructional staff with at least the minimum district or state-required hours of technology-related professional development in the most recent academic year.
Technology-related training and/or professional development for administrative and support staff Hours of professional development received by administrative and support staff in the most recent academic year, per administrative and support staff FTE.
Hours of technology-related professional development received by administrative and support staff in the most recent academic year, per administrative and support staff FTE.
Estimated percentage of hours of technology-related professional development of total hours of professional development received by administrative and support staff.
Percentage of administrative and support staff with at least the minimum district or state-required hours of technologyrelated professional development received in the most recent academic year.

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What are the goals, methods, incentives, and content of technology-related training and/or professional development for staff?

The methods and content of technology-related professional development are changing as quickly as technology itself. Still, guidelines exist for goals in the form of technological proficiency levels found in standards such as ISTE's NETS for Teachers and the Technology Standards for School Administrators (see Chapter 7 Resources). A goal statement should also be set forth in the professional development portion of a district's technology plan.

Technology has brought a windfall for delivery methods in professional development. Online delivery means can help educators to find the best time for training based on their own schedules (see the Resources for this chapter). Video and audio conferencing allow teachers access to both instructional and collegial support. E-mail and e-bulletin boards enable teachers to share information and solve problems. Still, taken as a whole, technology cannot solve the problem of allocating the time needed for ongoing professional development to establish and maintain proficiency in technology use. There are many competing demands for teachers' and administrators' time, and districts need to allocate sufficient time and resources for professional development and training (of all kinds).

INDICATORS

Goals and content of technology-related professional development for instructional staff Existence of a written goal statement for technology-related training/professional development for instructional staff.
Technology-related content areas covered in training and/or professional development for instructional staff in the past academic year. (See term definitions and categories below.)

Methods and incentives of technology-related professional development for instructional staff
Delivery means used for technology-related training and/or professional development for instructional staff.
Percentage of total hours of technology-related professional development provided to instructional staff through various means.
Incentives provided for technology-related professional development to instructional staff.
Goals and content of technology-related professional development for administrative and support staff Is there a written goal statement for technology-related professional development for administrative and support staff?
Technology-related content areas covered in professional development for administrative and support staff in the past academic year. (See term definitions and categories below.)
Methods and incentives of technology-related professional development for administrative and support staff Delivery means for technology-related professional development for administrative and support staff.
Percentage of total hours of technology-related professional development provided to administrative and support staff through various means.
Incentives provided for technology-related professional development to administrative and support staff.

TERM DEFINITIONS AND CATEGORIES

Academic year: A period that begins on the first day of classes and ends on the last day of classes, usually consisting of two semesters or three quarters, and includes a minimum of 30 weeks of instructional time over the course of one calendar year.

Delivery means: Web or other online; interactive video or other teleconferencing; satellite or television broadcast; video tape, CD-ROM, DVD; "hands on" workshop; lecture, presentation, meeting; computer-based training. Indicate whether access setting is group or individual.

Event type: In-service staff development course offered during the normal workday; pre-service course for teachers or administrators; formal class offered outside of working hours.

Incentives: Recertification points or credits; salary points; money; certificate of class or course completion; provision of substitutes; release time; computer or training materials.

Technology-related content areas: Can include planning and designing technology-supported learning, implementing technology-supported learning, technology tool skills, professional productivity, assessment, social, ethical and legal issues.

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How are training and/or professional development for staff evaluated?

Whether and how schools and districts assess professional development offerings is an important indication of the seriousness with which staff development is considered. Assessment must, however, go beyond a minimal "head count" approach, in which attendance lists or sign-in sheets are used as evidence of program success.

Tailoring evaluation methods to professional development programs makes sense-data on how teachers and administrators progress and how they are using new technologies to promote student achievement give great insight into what technology is doing for schools. By evaluating professional development, technology planners and administrators can learn what is working, and what or who needs help.

Measures of proficiency are discussed in Chapter 7 that could serve as outcome assessments, but such outcome measures are at best indirectly related to professional development inputs.

A list of assessment tools for professional development is provided in the Resources section at the end of this chapter. These are published by individual technology coordinators or planners and school systems; several are online

INDICATORS

Training in evaluating instructional staff Administrators, technology coordinators or curriculum supervisors/department heads receive training in evaluating instructional staff technology proficiency or extent of integration of technology into the curriculum.
Existence of evaluation criteria for effects of training and/or professional development for instructional staff.
Training in evaluating administrative and support staff Administrators or technology coordinators receive training in evaluating administrative and support staff technology proficiency.
Existence of evaluation criteria for effects of training and/or professional development for administrative and support staff.

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Unit Record Structure

The relevant unit for professional development data element definitions is the single training event or program. Single training event unit records form the basic elements for a comprehensive professional development database. A system based on training event unit records would meet day-to-day administrative needs and support overall assessment and planning. The data elements presented below illustrate basic units of a data system from which indicators can be derived to answer important policy and planning questions. It is important that training events cross-connect with teacher identification in these records, since many of the questions aggregate the professional development and training experiences of individual teachers.

The data elements listed below, along with others defining basic school components such as classrooms and adapted from other NCES handbooks, can be used to create the indicators listed in this chapter. The complete list of data elements for this guide can be found in Appendix A; a number of detailed examples illustrating the creation of indicators from data elements can be found in Appendix B.

LIST OF POTENTIAL DATA ELEMENTS FOR A UNIT RECORD: STAFF TECHNOLOGY-RELATED TRAINING

For each training/professional development event attended by at least one staff member at the school or district level, the following data elements are recorded:

  • Event starting date
  • Event ending date
  • Event name
  • Total duration (seat time), hours
  • Event type
  • Mode of delivery
  • Benchmarks, standards, or mandated curriculum areas (specified by state or district) covered in the course
  • Contribution (number of hours) to minimum district or state-specified requirement
  • Number of hours per academic year required by district or state
  • Roster of participating staff (with individual identifiers if available; job classification)
  • Event location: on school property; in district; away from district
  • Proportion of time devoted to technology-related training and/or professional development (estimate by technology coordinator)
  • Proportion of time devoted to technology-specific training and/or professional development (estimate by technology coordinator)
  • Method of evaluation (none, exit test, proficiency certification)
  • Result of evaluation (pass, score, fail)
  • Form of credit (college credit [CEUs, CPD, credit hours])

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Sidebar Topics


The story of Jane Neussup continues…

Staff Development

On the way back to his office, John runs into Nell Person, director of personnel, and decides to ask Nell about staff development for teachers in technology use.

Nell replies, "I can give you a three-year summary of the district's technology training goal as outlined in the technology plan as soon as the network comes back up."

John says, "The network will be up again momentarily-I just saw Deb and she's working on it. It's a pesky problem, but we should have it solved soon. But I wanted to ask: How many of the high school science teachers have taken the professional development workshops in technology?"

Nell promises to let him know, if the data are not in the technology plan report. John rushes off to his next meeting, with the science teachers.

[To be continued...]

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"Standards for Professional Development,"
rom the Michigan State Department of Education

Standards for the Process of Professional Development

Quality professional development, structured and provided within a context of ongoing school improvement planning and a culture of collaboration, improves and sustains the capacity of the adult learner to:

Standard 1: use inquiry and reflective practice within the learning community.

Sample Indicator: educators keep journals to record and reflect on their own practice; time is allocated at school improvement and staff meetings to share journal content and to review curriculum, instruction, and assessment techniques, and process exists to make appropriate changes.

Standard 2: learn from recognized resources within both the public and private sectors, from successful models, and from colleagues and others in the learning community.

Sample Indicator: time is invested to study the research on teaching and learning, to learn from presentations, to learn from recognized resources in the private sector and government, and to learn from collegial exchange.

Standard 3: identify personal and adult learning needs and styles, and select appropriate modes of participation.

Sample Indicator: educators have the opportunity to complete learning style inventories and to select professional development compatible with individual learning styles.

Standard 4: implement research-based leadership strategies to support and sustain ongoing developmental activities.

Sample Indicator: time and opportunities are provided for mentoring, peer coaching, study groups and action research among educators and all those impacting student learning.

Standard 5: integrate technologies as tools to assist with the curriculum development, instructional management, and assessment practices.

Sample Indicator: time and training are provided for educators to use and adapt technological systems to the learning needs of adults and students.

Standard 6: invest time in an ongoing process of collegial dialogue, collaborative learning, and exploration of new and/or proven instructional strategies.

Sample Indicator: time is invested for focused collegial dialogue at school improvement and staff meetings. Research based materials and best practice information are exchanged and discussed. Data specific to student academic achievement are shared and utilized to inform modifications to curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices.

Reprinted with permission from the Michigan State Dept. of Education, Copyright © 2001. State of Michigan. All Rights Reserved.

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Resources

Bray, B. (1998). "Ten Steps to Effective Technology Staff Development." See http://www.compstrategies.com/staffdevelopment/tensteps.html

"Critical Issue: Providing Professional Development for Effective Technology Use," Pathways to School Improvement, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1997. See http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te1000.htm

"Critical Issue: Finding Time for Professional Development," Pathways to School Improvement, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1997. See http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/profdevl/pd300.htm

Grant, C.M. (1996). "Professional Development in a Technological Age: New Definitions, Old Challenges, New Resources." Technology Infusion and School Change. TERC. See http://ra.terc.edu/publications/TERC_pubs/tech-infusion/prof_dev/prof_dev_frame.html

McKenzie, J. (1998). "Secrets of Success: Professional Development That Works." eSchool News. See http://staffdevelop.org/secrets.html

National Center for Research on Teacher Learning, Michigan State University, College of Education. Learning to Walk the Reform Talk: A Framework for the Professional Development of Teachers. See http://ncrtl.msu.edu/http/walk.pdf

Nellen, T. (2001). "Assessing Staff Technology Needs: Do the Current Tools Work?" Education World. See http://www.education-world.com/a_admin/admin226.shtml

Standards

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. See (especially, Policy Position) http://www.nbpts.org/about/coreprops.cfm

Standards for Staff Development, National Staff Development Council. See http://www.nsdc.org/list.htm

Assessment tools

Ted Nellen lists many tools for assessing staff for technology on his own web site. See http://www.tnellen.com/school/assess.pdf

Arizona State recently created an online Web assessment tool for all of their public school teachers. See http://mycompass.asset.asu.edu/

iAssessment. See http://www.iassessment.com/

Computer Strategies. See http://www.compstrategies.com/staffdevelopment/index.html#ILP

The Milken Family Foundation Professional Competency Continuum (PCC) Assessment Tool. See http://www.mff.org/publications/publications.taf?page=280

Other in-depth resources

enGauge: Professional Development. See http://www.ncrel.org/engauge/framewk/sys/dev/sysdevin.htm

enGauge: Educator Proficiency. See http://www.ncrel.org/engauge/framewk/pro/proin.htm

Education Week Hot Topic: Professional Development. See http://www.edweek.org/context/topics/issuespage.cfm?id=16

The Milken Family Foundation Initiative on Education Technology. See http://www.mff.org/edtech/

"Building Bridges: Mission and Principles of Professional Development." The U.S. Department of Education's policy on professional development. Includes a chart on the "Principles of High-Quality Professional Development." Part of the Department's Goals 2000 area. See http://www.ed.gov/G2K/bridge.html

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