Thoughts on Training from School Dist. Tech Chief
Hey everyone - One of you proposed a better training system so I asked my friend Mrs. Greenspun, the director of technology at my school district (Haverford; ~5,600 students). Here are her thoughts:
Training.........well I have just completed a week of training with teachers - 1/2 days for 5 days. It is my favorite part of this job & one I get too little time to do! Michael - I find when I speak with teachers - really talk to them - learn about their particular needs, frustrations, classroom and style - is the only way I can truly direct my training to meet their individual needs. I had small groups - no more than 12 - this really works because I can individualize instruction in ways that make sense to them. I find very little technical replacement for this style. I do guide them through a wiki - which I use for my presentation information & as a reference for them. They seem to like this a lot. I get many emails from teachers who go back & look at a video tutorial - download a handout (I don't give them anymore). But I really only see change occur only when I have had them for a 3/4 hour workshop - where we can have a good dialog and talk about many issues along the way.
Some of them have no idea what is going on in the world of technology - it always amazes me! They know they are behind (they have no idea how much!) but are often embarrassed and intimidated. I always keep my explanations simple and real world. I was doing RSS feeds with some very low level (technology wise) teachers and I was dreading it! They did not even know what they had signed up for but took it anyway! But as we worked our way through they completely understood the value and saw the big picture. They felt so empowered when they left - I could practically watch them inflate themselves with pride. They knew how to set up their readers and were on their way. So - if we can break training down - and develop room for practice - it would be great - but I love the dialog & personal exchange. It is all about developing relationships!
However - what I do see as a viable option - I was thinking more for kids - but good for training as well I guess - is a module of components of learning that you could build or put together for students to meet their individual learning needs. Education is going to have to become more individualized. So...if you needed to learn about fractions and division & multiplication- - someone could take these pieces and add them into your learning portfolio. These would be guided learning activities - real world exploration - and assessments. A mastery learning of some sort would take place at the end - cannot move on until mastery has occurred. The teacher is truly the guide on the side - helping students to understand and make sense of their learning - much more of a a facilitator role. This is my concept - very rough! It sounds similar to some programs that are out there but I am talking about something much more sophisticated and robust!
Got to run.......will keep thinking!