Thursday, October 11, 2012

We Can't Forget Professional Development for Students

Picture Source:  http://agreatplace4kids.com/links.html
Yesterday, I lead a professional development training session with my Digital Learning Team regarding how to effectively use Schoology, which is our new online Learning Management System (LMS).  The training session was designed to help a team of tech-savvy teachers learn how to use Schoology, so that we can train the rest of our staff.  During the training session the following question was asked, "When will our students be trained to use Schoology?"

We often spend a lot of time talking about professional development for teachers, but for some reason, we don't spend enough time talking about professional development for our students.

"Teachers spend countless hours learning new tools to use in class, but do they set aside any time for students to learn these new tools as well? Too often, we assume that students know all about this stuff because they are young and hip to the whole technology thing. That's one of the worst assumptions a teacher can make about a student."  Assuming that students will immediately know how to use these technology tools, sets them up for failure. [1]

Ideally, we should offer time during the school day to train our students how to use the same technology tools that we expect our teachers to use with them.  However, the reality is that teachers simply can't afford to "give up" their instructional time to train students how effectively use these tools.  Teachers have so much content that their students must learn in order for them to perform well on state standardized tests.  Moreover, teachers have to plan rigorous and challenging lessons for all students, attend team meetings, and respond to other tasks and initiatives that are expected of them.

It is simply unfair to expect our students to use the same technology tools that we are asking of our teachers, without providing them with sufficient training. 

So, when do we find the time, and how do we train our students to use the same technology that our teachers do?

Below are three tips on making professional development for students a seamless part of your classroom.

Model

Demonstrate appropriate use of the technology tool with students.  This can be for a few minutes in the classroom, or in a computer lab.  Demonstrating appropriate use will allow teachers to model the desired application of the technology tool. 

Explore

Let students explore the new technology tool.  Allow students to practice using the tool in class when time permits.  Encourage students to explore the tool at home, with their friends, and during scheduled times with teachers.  A great time to have students explore new technology tools is during a flexible block of time scheduled for each school day that accommodates the many different needs of students. 

Expectations

Set high expectations for students.  Students need to know the specific features of the tool that they will be expected to use.  Moreover, students also need to know what will be expected of them in terms of behavior, frequency of use, and quality of use.

By integrating these three ideas into the classroom, students will get the support they need to effectively use new technology tools to enhance their learning and understanding of content knowledge in the classroom.


For your consideration

How do you help students with the new technology tools in your classroom?



[Note: some of the ideas from this blog post came from Edutopia blog post above]

Cross-posted on the Digital Learning Series

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