When looking looking at improving the use of edtech in education I strongly believe that ensuring that staff have the training, support and guidance on how to implement it effectively is the game changer.
At Leeds City College professional development of staff has been our biggest focus and we have seen a significant impact because of it. When I first came to post in 2016 as then the technology enhanced learning manager we looked creating some fundamentals (the pillars), which would ensure we followed. We called these these the 4 pillars of PD.
The first of these was to ensure that we ‘differentiated’ our sessions. It still is a surprise to me that this is sometimes not done as would we allow the same in class with our learners? Would we allow all learners to be talked at and then complete the same activities in the same way with no consideration for their starting points? I think the answer is hell no. So we need to ensure that this is the same when training staff. We need to consider, where they are at and what we want them to achieve. We then need to consider the audience and how they might best take on the information we want them to absorb.
The second pillar is to role model the tools, and by this I mean use the tools to train staff on how to use the tools. Staff need to be shown how not just told how, They also need to get hands on and see how they can relate the tool or platform to the context of their learning and even create their own resources using the tool which will mean they are good to go when they leave the session.
The third pillar is about varying how people can access the development sessions. That starts with how in terms of is it face to face, blended or online. We still see that a lot of staff at Leeds City College wish to access their professional development face to face still and the main reason is the social learning element and being able to collaborate with others. You also need to consider when the sessions are run too. In Further Education there are fractional staff and generally the days they will not work is monday and or fridays. This means that if these are the only days you ever deliver on then you are missing a proportion of your target audience and also not developing these people. So you need to consider the days and vary these and if not possible why not record these sessions so that anyone else who cannot make it can watch at their leisure and learn. You also need to consider the time of day these are on and the session lengths too as at times busy staff may only be able to find 15/20 minutes spare.
The fourth and final pillar is make the professional development sessions fun. There is nothing worse than attending a professional development session where you are clock watching and feel as you leave that it was a waste of time. Have fun in the sessions and make it engaging. Give prizes and gamify it so there is some nice healthy competitive element in there. However you feel you can do this ensure you do, you want people leaving wanting more not clock watching for the session to end. If you do this will ensure people tell others and those people will tell others and so on.
So I know this is not rocket science to many but it has seen success with our professional development programmes and our edtech implementation. If you are looking at professional development of your staff in your school or college I would love to collaborate with as any people as I possibly can so feel free to contact me.