Much of the conversation about the digital classroom focuses – rightly enough, to be fair – on how it’s transforming education for students.
Beyond this, there’s a good degree of understanding on how its technologies can also enhance teaching, and make a teacher’s life easier.
What’s less often discussed is how they can also be used in teacher professional development itself.
In a sense, it’s a simple thought. If digital technologies can boost student learning, then surely they can also boost teacher learning.
We agree – and that’s why we’ve gathered these five tips. They are all ways an educational establishment can integrate new technology into teacher professional development.
1 Follow Twitter
Of course the Internet is a great resource of articles, research papers, blogs and websites that can all inform teacher training, but you still have to find the right material. And with an almost-infinite amount of stuff out there, that’s not necessarily an easy process.
Twitter can help. By following thought-leaders and networking with peers, you will be led to suitable material rather than having to hunt for it yourself. Some schools and colleges are even using Twitter to identify and then approach speakers who can provide them with bespoke sessions and seminars, whether physically or virtually.
2 Run a blog
To complete this circle of exchange, why not start a teaching blog yourself?
Firstly, it could help you to reflect on how you approach aspects of teaching. Secondly, it will also draw peers to you. Ask for advice or put an opinion out there, and followers are likely to provide the answers and support you need.
3 Join live online training
There are now a significant number of organisations providing professional development online, through webinars, YouTube video tutorials and so on.
The best of these are those that are interactive and ‘live’, enabling you to participate rather than just consume. Some are free, some have a fee – look for recommendations on what’s the best in market.
4 Create digital feedback tools
However it’s delivered, training always needs to be tweaked and updated. Feedback from participating teachers is essential to this. It used to come from filling in a ‘how did you find the course’ form; nowadays it can be via digital questionnaire formats.
These can rapidly and efficiently gather material that’s richer and more open to analysis. Using them doesn’t necessarily require major investment in software either: there are plenty of off-the-shelf solutions that can be readily adapted to your own needs, such as trainingcheckand uservoice.
5 Try running a digital qualification or recognition system within your establishment
While it may be more often used for students, there’s no reason why a technique such as digital badges can’t be beneficial in a professional development context.
If nothing else, badges provide structure that prevents professional development being too ad hoc. Teachers who earn badges thereby gain peer recognition for specific knowledge, accomplishments or abilities. They verify and share a teacher’s progress. Badges can also become the basis of a professional development community.
There are several free-to-use platforms for creating your own badge system, such as OpenBadges.