ERIC Identifier: ED477616
Publication Date: 2003-12-00
Author: Barnett, Harvey
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
Technology Professional Development: Successful Strategies for
Teacher Change. ERIC Digest.
The goal of any professional development program is to inform and change
teacher behavior as a result of new information. To this end, teachers and other
educators spend countless hours in professional development activities learning
to use new instructional strategies or materials. Sometimes there is change, and
sometimes the person goes right back to doing what he or she had been doing all
along. Bob Pearlman, Director of Strategic Planning, New Technology Foundation,
said once in a speech, "Anybody who thinks they can inculcate teachers with
anything on a mandatory basis is nuts." The trick then is to design your
professional development activities in a way that ensures that teachers' time
and your investment in time and money pay off in increased student achievement.
Getting teacher buy in is important when technology is involved, especially
for those who are not convinced technology is worth the time and effort. The
first step of any sound professional development program is to develop a belief
about technology professional development that includes the idea that the
curriculum drives the use of technology, not vice-versa, and that empowered
teachers will find appropriate ways to include technology with their ongoing
instruction rather than view it as an activity unconnected to the district's
content standards. Research and best teaching practices consistently show that
without effective staff development and continuous support, technology
integration will never be satisfactorily achieved (Bailey and Powell, 1998).
Technology professional development programs are successful when they focus
on the teacher's stage of use. A teacher afraid of technology or a beginning
user would be lost in a class for power users.
In 1992, Mandinach described four stages of technology use: survival,
mastery, impact and innovation. Here is a description of the four stages:
A teacher in the survival stage:
assailed by problems (everything that can go wrong will);
change the status quo in the classroom;
technology only for directed instruction;
management problems planning how to have 30 students access a few computers;
unrealistic expectations, believing that technology use by itself will result in
higher academic performance.
A teacher in the mastery stage:
increased tolerance to hardware and software problems;
to use new forms of interaction with students and class room practices;
increased technical competence and can troubleshoot simple problems.
A teacher in the impact stage:
incorporates new working relationships and class room structures;
instruction and construction;
rarely threatened by technology;
creates technology enhanced instructional units.
A teacher in the innovation stage:
his or her classroom environment to take full advantage of technology enhanced
curriculum and learning activities.
These stages of use closely mirror those described by David Dwyer (1994) and
Dwyer, Ringstaff and Sandholtz (1991) in their Apple Classroom of Tomorrow
(ACOT) research. Even with extensive professional development and coaching it
can take a teacher from 3 to 5 years to reach the mastery and impact stages.
Here are six technology professional development systems implemented by
districts that will help teachers reach impact and mastery levels.
1. After school. This is the typical format for most districts. It is also
among the lease effective. Teachers are tired at the end of the day, and intense
concentration can be difficult. The system works best to raise awareness,
introduce concepts or to learn about easy-to-use applications.
2. Technology Rover/Prep Shops. This delivery system brings just in time
training. Teachers sign up for an hour of individual coaching, indicating their
training need. The school hires a floating substitute for the day; the trainer
provides the needed assistance; and the teacher receives individual training
targeted to his or her individual need. At schools where teachers have prep
time, they sign up during their prep period. This system has been very cost
effective for delivering training to help teachers with specific hardware or
3. Mini Grants. Teachers value the incentives of time and money. Provide a
small $300-$500 grant to a teacher to learn a piece of hardware, software
application or develop a technology-enhanced unit. As a condition for receiving
the grant, the teacher agrees to train others about what he or she has learned.
4. Summer or Off Track Institutes. Research (Dwyer, 1994) found that teachers
reform their teaching practices when they have the time to learn new hardware
and software applications and reflect on their present teaching practices.
Multi-day institutes are one of the most effective delivery systems for
supporting teachers in their efforts to fully incorporate technology with the
instructional program because teachers are not tired from teaching or thinking
about what a substitute is doing in their classrooms.
5. Distance Learning. Anytime, anywhere learning can be an alternative to
face-to-face instruction. Districts can contract with either a profit or
non-profit provider or develop their own. Distance learning has the advantage of
allowing teachers to access professional development at a time and location
convenient for them. The Distance Learning Network (www.dlrn.org) is a good
place to begin your search for distance learning professional development
courses. A non-profit source for online courses is CTAP Online, a site devoted
to helping teachers understand, apply and teach technology in their classroom
6. Research based professional development programs. These programs can
provide professional development that will make a difference for teachers.
EMints (http://emints.more.net) and Environmental and Spatial Technology
(www.eastproject.org/Portal/) are two examples of research based professional
development programs that are successful.
In addition, WestEd RTEC has developed a set of tools to assist you in
planning, monitoring and assessing the level of technology use by
administrators, teachers and students (visit http://
As you consider your technology professional development program, the
following lists of what works and what does not describe some issues to ponder.
input from stakeholders;
principals to be champions for professional development;
teachers by grade level or subject;
all professional development activities and reorganize as needed;
time for hands-on activities;
content on curriculum instead of software;
flexible and listening to teachers needs;
a technology enhanced lesson plan;
access to appropriate hardware and software.
What does not work:
down decisions without teacher input;
involvement from principals;
or no planning;
and pray" - a one-hour workshop with no follow-up;
of instructor talk with little time for hands-on;
and tell sessions;
evaluation or feedback.
You have reviewed the research, listened to teachers and principals, and
provided time for learning. To determine if your technology professional
development program is making a difference in how teachers incorporate
technology, look for the following indicators of success:
1. Classroom instruction is redesigned.
2. There is a change in the learning environment, from the teacher as the
director of learning to the teacher as a facilitator of learning. 3. How many
teachers who receive training become trainers? 4. Teacher renewal and
enthusiasm. 5. Increased teacher collaboration. 6. Technology is a catalyst for
more powerful student learning.
If these factors are in evidence, then your technology professional
development program is impacting how teachers use technology in their
Assessing staff technology competence from now
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Dwyer, D. (1994). Apple classrooms of tomorrow: What we've learned.
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