Fostering Meaningful Teaching and Learning with Technology

I’d like to share a book with you about technology professional development. Meaningful Learning Using Technology: What Educators Need to Know And Do by Elizabeth Alexander Ashburn (Editor), Robert E. Floden (Editor) (Amazon link)

In this book, national experts use concrete examples to describe specific knowledge, beliefs, and strategies that will enable teachers and district leaders to support meaningful learning using technology. Chapters examine the intersection between course content, types of technology, and the supports and professional development required to effectively implement technology in the K–12 classroom. (From the publisher)

“This book provides both practical and scholarly insights about how teachers’ technology use can help students to master deep content and sophisticated skills. Practitioners, policymakers, and researchers all will benefit from the ideas in this volume.” – Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“These chapters offer innovative insights for restoring meaning to learning. They show that the answer to ‘How can new technologies support inquiry?’ lies not in the hardware or software, but in the beliefs and values of students, teachers, and administrators. These findings are essential for anyone interested in the potential of new learning technologies.” – Bertram C. Bruce, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Many educators are looking for research that shows “what works” in technology professional development. This book is an excellent starting point for discussions about new strategies and best practices. In one chapter, GenYES was one of four models selected for correlation to key dimensions to successful K-12 technology professional development. GenYES and the other models were selected as “… large-scale efforts that were shown to be effective in affecting teachers’ use of technology.”

Fostering Meaningful Teaching and Learning with Technology: Characteristics of Effective Professional Development
Written by Yong Zhao, Kenneth Frank, and Nicole Ellefson of Michigan State University Michigan State University (MSU), these researchers studied four “large-scale efforts that were shown to be effective in affecting teachers’ use of technology”:

1. The Project-Based Learning Multimedia Model (PBL+MM)
2. The Galileo Education Network Association (GENA)
3. Project Information Technology (PIT)
4. The Generation Y Model (previous name of the GenYES model)

Based on data collected from hundreds of teachers, the study determined that several key factors positively influenced teacher’ use of computers.

Study Findings – Key Factors of Successful Technology Professional Development

  1. Time to experiment and play. “Use of computers was positively correlated (.3) with the extent to which a teacher was able to experiment with district-supported software.”
  2. Focus on student learning. “Teachers’ use of computers was positively correlated (.4) with the extent to which the content of professional development was focused on student learning.”
  3. Building social connections and learning communities. “Computer use was positively correlated (.2) with the extent to which teachers accessed other teachers’ expertise.”
  4. Localizing professional development. “Computer use was positively correlated (.2 for each) with the extent to which professional development was provided locally, either in the classroom or school lab.”

The study outlines why and how these models support each of these factors. Unfortunately, I can’t reproduce the entire chapter here, but there is a bit of it online at Amazon.com (the chapter starts at page 161). Buy the book!

In the next few blog posts, I’ll explore these factors in more detail, and the specific results for the GenYES model.

Sylvia

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