Proliferation of technology in the classroom has reached a critical point in 2016. Educators have a new level of access to tools to build a connected classroom. However, comprehensive plans for districtwide implementation and rich resources for using these tools to their fullest capacity lags behind the accelerated adoption of technology in the classroom.
Because educators are often left without appropriate professional development resources, it’s no surprise that the two-thirds of 140,000 surveyed in a recent AdvanceED study showed no evidence of using technology for research, problem-solving or collaboration. Technology use in the classroom is prevalent, but not necessarily used to reinforce trends in pedagogy, such as learning space design, collaborative learning and student-led learning.
According to the survey conducted by the Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA, 75% of educators who have taken a professional development course online were personally interested in the topic and motivated to gain knowledge about the topic. While these results indicate that educators are actively seeking professional development resources, it suggests that state and federal policies and district leaders are not driving a systematic introduction of professional development resources.
There is much opportunity for policy and district leadership to raise the tide to lift all boats, rather than leaving educators on their own to become familiar with new technology, enrich their instruction and share that knowledge to their colleagues.
As we approach 2017, professional development providers, whether they be district leaders, education consultants or industry providers, will be expected to fulfill two needs in the classroom: 1) Introduce a framework for professional development that empowers educators to adapt technology to fit their own classroom goals, and 2) Offer tactical solutions for integrating specific technologies into pedagogical practices.
For professional development to make a pivotal shift away from a one-size-fits-all model, we can expect the following trends to take shape during the 2017-18 school year.
Schools and districts will develop substantive, long-term professional development goals.
Professional development will no longer be a reactive practice. School leaders will begin by considering technology adoption that can accommodate professional development from the top down, as well as the bottom up. This means that superintendents, administrators and technology directors will work together to develop a research-based plan for technology implementation. This model will aim to empower teachers to assess their classroom needs and goals, and utilize the resources set in place within the larger district plan to meet those goals. More and more often, schools and districts will look to product vendors to provide professional learning as part of their contracts to ensure goals are met.
The proliferation of blended/personalized learning programs in K-12 and higher education will create high demand for personalized professional learning.
Educators are turning to professional development to transfer learning autonomy into the hands of students — a shift that must culminate at a deeper level in the teaching practice.
Professional development for blended learning can’t rely on the sage-on-the-stage model. We can expect to see a more continuous delivery of education and resources for blended learning practices that reaches beyond seminars and webinars. Educators will be expected to take the place of the student and engage in professional development in a blended learning format. Educators will take full online courses, and be expected to exercise the same method of delivery that they plan to use in the classroom.
Professional development will no longer be an “add-on.”
As industry leaders continue to adapt product offerings to meet the demands of educators, we can expect growth in the education technology industry, and possibly the introduction of new players in the education space.
Resources for educators to embrace change in policies and standards will be increasingly available.
2017 will be the year for policies that affect education decision-making to take hold, including the Every Student Succeeds Act and the introduction of and changes in the Lifeline Program.
We can expect an increase of short-form offerings — webinars, online workshops, conference sessions — from educators and thought leaders, helping states and districts navigate requirements and opportunities.
Moving professional development forward, together.
We have a tall order for professional development to take form in 2017. Synergy among district-wide, long-form training programs, industry-provided resources and a continued willingness to learn and adapt from educators will help make professional development seamless in everyday teaching and learning.
Donelle Blubaugh is the education program manager for the Education Technology Industry Network of the Software Information Industry Association. Blubaugh is a former classroom teacher and has more than 20 years of experience in the education industry.