Some school districts are showing remarkable success with their professional development programs aimed at improving teachers’ comfort level with technology. Leaders of these programs suggest the following actions will get a program headed in the right direction:
1. Predetermine teachers’ needs. A needs assessment is essential, even though many teachers are wary of being tested for their computer literacy.
2. Create sensible budgets. The vision for the program must match its budget.
3. Make training convenient. If teachers have options about when and where they take professional development courses, they are more likely able to fit such programs into their schedules.
4. Start with goals and standards. Developing a useful program begins by having a clear vision of the goali.e., what teachers should be able to do as a result. Involve teachers in this goal-setting process.
5. Train the trainer. Include a train-the-trainer program so the most interested teachers can can share their knowledge with others. But make sure you separate train-the-trainer instruction of motivated teachers from the basic skills classes that train most others.
6. Emphasize the practical. Showing how technology can be used in specific classroom exercises is much more valuable than lectures. Demonstrations by sophisticated computer users are highly illustrative and inspirational.
7. Allow time for review. Don’t try to force too much new material into a course. Reviews of previously-covered information are crucial. Reviews lead to real mastery of this challenging medium.
8. Get feedback, and listen to it. Continually query teachers about whether courses and training are meeting their real needs in the classroom. Adjust programs to reflect their responses.