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Professional Development With Technology: Lessons Learned From the Field

By Carolina Orgnero
 | May 04, 2018

PD With TechnologyAs we approach the third decade of the 21st century, the integration of technology into education can be considered slow when compared to the technological investment that governments have spent in schools—at least in Argentina. If the issue can no longer be attributed to lack of equipment, training and belief systems appear to be the main factors influencing technology integration in teaching.

While there are no magical recipes for effective training, I would like to share some new ways of bridging the digital gap. 

Teachers often ask me about the latest app they can use in the classroom. I don’t have a straightforward answer to this question, because there are many variables that come into play. For example, the choice of an app needs to be determined by the purpose of the activity and the skills that teachers want their students to develop. For this reason, I often address this question with a discussion about traditional and new literacies and provide a framework that describes 21st-century learning outcomes and support systems. 

My preservice and novice teachers appreciate the discussion of how to structure a pre, during and postactivity. For example, before reading, teachers can provide a word cloud to help students identify the topic, access prior knowledge, and learn key vocabulary. After reading, students can prepare a summary of the most important concepts. This activity serves to illustrate a shift in teachers' and students’ roles; students no longer just consume the material their teachers prepare, rather, they are encouraged to participate as prosumers, i.e. both producers and consumers.

Where I work, professional development (PD) is almost always limited to a day or less. While research has shown that this is not an effective way of learning, because there are few opportunities to try new tools, techniques, and strategies and reflect on the results, newer forms of professional development have been met with some resistance. I believe PD should foster a community of practice, where teachers can ask questions; exchange new tools, strategies, and activities; and examine their beliefs about what it means to teach and learn in the digital age.

M. Carolina Orgnero is a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto and Instituto Juan Zorrilla de San Martín and is the technology coordinator at Facultad de Lenguas at Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. 

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