T.H.E. Journal, December 1998, p. 60
These two authors demonstrate that the greatest barrier to teaching students how to use technology is not a lack of computers and equipment, but rather a lack of proper staff training.
Outside technology workshops, they say, are a mistake they’re expensive, don’t offer continuing support to teachers when they return to the classroom, and often ignore situations unique to a certain school or classroom.
The solution to this training problem, the authors found, is a staff development program in which tech-savvy teachers instruct teachers who are newcomers to technology. After enough training, the novice teachers will become experts themselves and will be able to train other teachers in the future. Here’s why the program works so well:
- It creates building-level experts and increases their number.
- It establishes a continuous support network of technology expertise.
- It includes large numbers of participants.
- It doesn’t cost a lot of money.
- It meets technology needs specific to your school.
Here’s the recipe for putting this plan into action:
- Select a core group of experts for a planning team. This group should conduct a survey of teachers to establish the training needs at the school.
- Following a needs assessment, have the experts meet with teachers to address specific areas of concern. A schedule of three three-hour sessions per month will work well.
- Give out hands-on assignments based on the training sessions.
- Reward teachers who complete assignments with small stipends that provide encouragement and motivation.
- After adequate training, encourage teachers to become experts themselves to train others.
- Once your training program grows, make it mandatory for all members of your school, including staff, administrators, and school board members.