As more states require K-12 teachers to prove a certain level of technical literacy, Oklahoma’s training program may serve as a model for how to incorporate technology into teacher professional development.
The program itself has been carefully developed, from its mission (placing a lead technology teacher in every school building in Oklahoma within five years) to its implementation (six consortia in the state have been awarded funds toward implementing this goal). The program focuses on mid-range computer skills, such as developing web pages and modifying existing curricula to incorporate online learning opportunities. The program does not train teachers in computer fundamentals, which it assumes can be obtained from many readily available sources.
The program emphasizes a who-what-when-where-how approach:
1. Who is teaching? Rather than using non-teachers or former teachers who have become computer consultants, the program works with active teachers. They are given training in the computer skills identified as important to classroom success. These master teachers then help train lead technology teachers in each school. Master teachers are paid per hour for their work in training other teachers; those trainees, in turn, are paid to mentor teachers within their schools.
2. How is proficiency achieved? Teachers register for training as lead technology teachers. They receive 28 hours of in-person instruction and nine hours of hands-on time in a computer lab. Their work is intensecompleted over several consecutive days, either in the summer or a long weekend during the school year. Classes average 20 students, and time is split between self-paced exercises and demonstrations. Lecture time is minimized.
3. What is taught? The curriculum includes creating and using graphics, using presentation software, using digital cameras and scannners, joining newsgroups and eMail lists, designing web pages, using advanced search techniques, and obeying copyright laws.
4. Whereand whendoes training occur? This is somewhat dependent on what is available locally, but efforts have been made to identify the best venues with the best equipment and to reserve them for classes. Given Oklahoma’s rural nature, teachers often drive 50 miles each way to attend class.
In just over three years, 2,500 teachers in Oklahoma have become lead technology teachers, a significant five percent of the statewide teacher pool.