Improve teacher development using a challenge-based model

Most training workshops actually fail teachers by creating a culture of dependency

collaboration-challenge“I can’t do that.”

“Are you serious?”

“No way.”

These are just a few of the comments I’ve heard at the beginning of one of my professional development workshops.

You see, whether teachers are learning to teach with iPads or Chromebooks or Windows Surface tablets, I typically begin an EdTechTeacher workshop with a challenge, or a set of tasks I expect them to complete within a limited amount of time.

In the case of an iPad workshop, I might have 12 tasks that I ask them to complete in, say, 20 minutes, or perhaps six tasks in less time. These tasks typically involve some basic but also some intermediary or even advanced uses of the iPad:

•    Take a picture
•    Take a screenshot
•    Create a 20-30 second movie starring a colleague.
•    Go to Add to Home Screen.
•    Copy the second sentence in the first paragraph. Open Notes app and paste into Note.
•    Speak the sentence in Note.

For many who are new to the iPad, or new to a Chromebook or some other device, these challenges can be daunting. And even those who have intermediary or advanced knowledge of these devices often don’t know how to complete all the tasks.

So, the immediate reaction is, “I can’t do this,” or “Why aren’t you simply showing me how to do this?” But, invariably, everyone completes the challenge—and only a few have to exceed the allotted time.

Next page: How to structure challenge-based lessons

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