New report on teachers’ view on ed tech

We’ve just released our latest report, in conjunction with the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning.

For our study, Teaching with Technology: Educators’ perspectives and recommendations for successful blended instructional strategies, we surveyed 664 teachers and spoke with more than 50 teachers and administrators, in focus groups at schools, at conferences, and by phone. Teachers represented a range of grade levels and subjects taught, and most were from traditional public schools.

What did they tell us? Too much to detail in a blog post—but some highlights are:

  • We asked about benefits of teaching with technology, challenges, and recommendations, and received a wide range of insightful responses.
  • Even teachers who generally extolled the benefits of using technology described many challenges and had recommendations for improvement.
  • The most common recommendations were to 1) recognize that the successful use of technology requires a major effort and time investment, 2) invest in extensive professional development, including PD that is based in schools, works cooperatively with teachers, and is grade-level specific and subject-specific, and 3) expect a growth mindset from teachers as well as from students.

These observations on professional development were seemingly straightforward, but actually quite insightful and powerful because so little PD is delivered with these ideas in mind. We summarized these ideas in a simple graphic:
 

The ed tech professional development pyramid

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PD related to ed tech has to start at the bottom of the pyramid, with delivering a basic understanding of tools and resources, but the problem is that too much PD also ends there. Although some PD opportunities reach the second level, only in a few schools and districts are teachers able to actively discuss how to apply technology strategies to their specific grade levels and subject areas. PD of this type requires a new approach as well, because it must be specific to a single teacher or small group of teachers. (We might call it personalized.) Because no district can afford to bring in different PD providers for each teacher individually, this approach requires that teachers work together and learn from each other, often with the help of a facilitator or coach.

This difference is significant and can be profound. It means that teachers don’t attend a workshop in June to hear about how they may adjust instructional practices in September. Instead, a small group of middle school math teachers might work with a coach for a short time after school a few days before teaching a unit, then plan together, and once the unit is underway share with each other what is working well and what needs adjusting. This is not an easy approach, and requires school or district support, but few technology programs are working well without this level of effort and investment in teachers.

We have much more to share on this report and will devote several additional posts to it over the next couple of weeks.

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