Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Connecting the dots…..

Connecting the dots!!

I’m just back from another two weeks on the road in Melbourne and Perth running professional development sessions for teachers.

There are many seen factors in a professional development session that help you to gauge its effectiveness. How do teachers react to your presentation? What does their body language tell you? What questions do they ask you?

However it is the unseen factors after your presentation that will determine whether you have really made an impact.

How much knowledge will teachers retain? To what extent will they process the information and skills you presented?  How motivated will they be to act on your great ideas? How will they behave after your presentation? Will they actually try to implement your ideas?

In other words, will teachers actively connect the dots between your presentation and the classroom?

Donald & James Kirkpatrick in their book Implementing the Four Levels: A Practical Guide for Effective Evaluation of Training Programs point out there are four levels that presenters (including eLearning Coordinators) need to evaluate when delivering professional development and training:

  1. Reaction – Did learners enjoy it? Did they think it was effective? Did they think it was a good use of their time?
  2. Learning – Did learners learn the knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes needed to close a performance gap?
  3. Behaviour – Did learners apply what was learned?
  4. Results – Was the performance gap closed? Was the investment of time and money in training teachers effective?

One simple but effective strategy that will help teachers to connect the dots is projects. In other words teachers are encouraged to initiate and design a project that puts their new found knowledge and skills into the real world context of the classroom.

Once your PD presentation is done and dusted, it is the context that teachers work in (not the content of your presentation) that will actually connect the dots and make a difference.

What strategies do you have in place to help teachers connect the dots?

What does ‘digital’ mean to you?

I have a problem with the word digital.

The word digital is used to describe technologies that digitise content e.g. digital cameras. No disagreement here.

Sometimes the word digital is bandied around to describe pedagogy. I have a problem here.

When schools promote a digital curriculum, are they referring to the technology being used? Or are schools referring to a pedagogy that facilities interactive learning?

A focus on technology as a means to distribute information is narrow and limits teaching and learning. PowerPoint is an easy way to sequence information into bullet points and distribute en masse – but a classroom as a place for bullet points is not teaching. A PDF is a convenient and easy way to distribute content – but it does not necessarily provide learning experiences which enable rich and engaging interaction.

The 21st century teacher advocates a wider view where technology is a tool that can be used to create conditions for interactive and collaborative learning. This teacher places a greater emphasis on the context – the learner (instead of the information) and the various ways he/she interacts with his/her learning and other learners.

This is when the word digital can used to describe and promote curriculum. No problem here.

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