What Works: Effective Technology Professional Development

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)

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!

Sylvia

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