Professional Development and Use of Technology

As we transition to the classroom of the future that leverages more and more technological devices to facilitate the learning process, education professionals face a unique challenge in integrating technology into daily classroom curriculum. Technology needs to become a tool for learning, not another subject to teach. As a teacher, your primary goal is to use technology to supplement learning rather than teaching it in isolation. The use of computers should be so infused that the students think that it is part of the natural learning process. Don't give up on proven strategies and practices just to insert IT, instead seek ways to insert it where it enhances student learning. Despite access to technological devices and despite the fact that teachers are entering the classroom with advanced form of it, only half of the teachers would make moderate or frequent use of technological devices as an instructional tool. Simply equipping classrooms with tablets and mobile learning tools does not ensure student success. Education leaders and policymakers must focus on investing on infrastructure and professional training for teachers and administrators to grow IT in education.

As more students grow up as digital natives, there is a greater need for high schools to adapt to IT changes. The dilemma here is that teachers aren't trained well enough in how to integrate these devices effectively into their classroom. Most teachers would say they get thrown devices without having people there to train them. This may be worrisome to some students, who consider IT in the classroom to be beneficial in preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow. But, it's the teachers who use it, not the technology itself, who will be responsible for preparing students for these future jobs. It's up to the people who help the students use it. If they're good teachers who really help them learn to use technology, then they will become better students and professionals. But by itself, tools will not make the students better. Schools adapting to new ways should not just think about what devices and gadgets to buy. They must also focus on physical classroom spaces, teacher training and curriculum design to ensure that learning decides what technology goes into classrooms and not the other way around. Professional development can promote quality IT integration and learning. If it is used as a teaching and learning tool, it can promote better instruction and greater student collaboration, enhancing student learning. If teachers can't use it a certain way given their physical or demographic constraints, technology instructors need to know so they can better support teachers with implementation. However, teachers don't need to know everything about a particular piece of software. They only need just enough to help them complete a curriculum-related or instructional task. The teacher's primary role is to help students understand particular subject matter. Everything else is secondary. Therefore, the focus of any computer-related professional development should not be on the technology itself, but on how computers can improve performance.

There has to be a comprehensive strategy in place to implement technology into the school system, and the teachers have to be involved in the planning stages. Teachers must carefully plan for using it in their classroom including strategies to address things they think might go wrong. They must ask how teaching can be improved, what devices will be used, and how time will be used more efficiently. Teaching the curriculum, not the technology, is the teacher's main concern in a classroom, so any technology-related professional development should make sure that it supports overall lesson objectives. Though IT training is one of the most common types of professional development for teachers, but the instruction given in the training sessions should not be too focused on learning how to use the software instead of integrating it into the teaching and learning.