Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan
Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan
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The use of instructional technology in twenty-first-century classrooms is not a subject to be debated. Rather, it needs to be embraced as a standard practice rather than an enriching activity. In Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan, author L. Robert Furman presents a comprehensive guide to help educators embrace the use of instructional technology tools in the classroom.

Answering the typical questions often posed by teachers and staff, Furman emphasizes the practical use of technology and introduces a breakthrough development called E-ProDev Days for offsite electronic professional development. He gives administrators the tools necessary to conduct fulfilling and meaningful professional development days, in-house or electronically, revolving around technology. Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan also includes

  • professional development lesson plans;
  • tutorials for teachers and students;
  • sample sites where examples of each e-tool are available to share;
  • addresses to obtain the e-tools.

Presenting a logical and practical approach to teaching a staff how to successfully use e-tools in their classroom, Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan helps administrators help teachers to enhance their classrooms, manage time, organize themselves, and save money.

Instructional Technology Tools
As a principal in a typical middle class elementary school, I am sure that I hear the same concerns from teachers when I bring up the subject of technology in the classroom that many other school administrators hear. I hear the same concerns every time I send out the agenda for the next professional development day and the word “technology” is somewhere on that agenda. When asking teachers to use technology, we often hear the following questions:
Why do we have to use this technology?
When are we going to have the time to learn how to use this new software?
It will take me twice as long to use the technology because I have to teach the students how to use it before I assign the project using technology. Where is the time?
Our technology never works in the school. Will this be available to us in the classroom when we want to use it or will it be blocked?
Is our internet strong enough to handle 30 students on the same web page at the same time?

Do these questions sound familiar? This manual will give your district’s professional development presenter the answers to all of these difficult questions that teachers ask. These are the common obstacles that administrators have to overcome when they have a professional development day using technology. But there is hope. Preparing an effective professional development day can be compared to our teachers preparing an effective lesson in their classrooms. Our professional development days have to be engaging with good pacing and solid outcomes. They have to be planned to accommodate all different types of learners, and include an exciting anticipatory set that will grab our listeners from the beginning. We, as administrators, have to model the same quality of instruction that we expect from our teachers.

This book is designed to give the administrator all the tools necessary to have fulfilling and meaningful professional development days, in house or electronically, revolving around the topic of technology. It will give you the ability to address those difficult questions the teachers have been asking. This publication also includes:
Professional development lesson plans
Sample lesson plans for teachers
Tutorials for teachers and students
Sample sites where examples of each E-Tool are available for you to share
The addresses to obtain the E-Tools

As an administrator, you are the instructional leader. Administrators must take that title to heart and feel the power of that title to the core of our being. As the instructional leader we must be the model for excellent teaching. Opportunities to shine and model superior teaching lie in well-structured professional development days. We can win the hearts of our staff with one good meaningful lesson. If we want the staff to use the E-Tools that we share with them, then we need to model them. If we want our schools to be on the cutting edge of instructional technology, then we must be willing to share the use of technology in our daily work. Walden University, an online university, did a wonderful study on myths involving technology and education. Three of the myths are worth repeating here because it drives home the realization that some teachers and administrators are not all on the same page when it comes to technology.

Myth: Given that students today are comfortable with technology, teachers’ use of technology is less important to student learning.

The Walden study has shown that this statement simply is not true. It was shown how students perceive their teachers differently when they use technology versus when the teacher uses more traditional methods. It proved that technology has a positive effect on:
Student behaviors
Class attendance
Focus and task completion
Student achievement
Dropout rate reduction
High-needs students better accommodated
Myth: Teachers and administrators have shared understandings about classroom technology and 21st century skills.

This statement was sadly proven false as well. Teachers and administrators, according to this study, do not agree on technology and its usage. It states that administrators have a stronger desire to use technology than teachers. One very important revelation was that administrators have a skewed belief that their teachers have more background and knowledge of 21st century skills and tools that they really do.
Myth: Teachers feel well prepared from their initial prep programs to effectively incorporate technology into instruction.

According to this study, in general, teachers that have been certified since 2000 do not feel well prepared in how to use technology in their classes. It was also shared that continual professional development in technology increases their comfort with using technology in their instruction.

This manual will not only give you the tools necessary to hold positive, effective professional development days using technology, but also gives you many techie tidbits that you or your staff can use to save time, organize your office, collaborate on projects and so much more. Money is often the magic word in using and sharing technology. Sadly, education has a tendency to get less and less money from the people who make the budget decisions. Being careful with your spending is the key to building a quality program. Every techie tidbit in this book at the time of this book’s printing is free. Free is defined differently by each site, but overall, these techie tidbits can be used as described in this book. Some sites have pay services which would be over and above what a free registration would allow, such as more space to save more than one project, larger file sizes, more edit options, etc. There is no need to purchase any of these add-ons to get the benefit of these programs. However, if you do find one that you use more than most and/or you find a favorite, it is suggested that you at least explore the added benefits of a pay subscription.

L. Robert Furman, EdD, is an elementary school principal at South Park Elementary School in South Park, Pennsylvania. He works with principals as an adjunct university faculty member and serves on the Scholastic Book Company’s Principal’s Advisory Board. Furman lives in South Park with his wife, Tiffeni, and his two boys.

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