An abundance of educational technology resources available to staff in a K-12 learning environment, coupled with limited organized training. The need for the organization of technology resources and leveled training has increased faster than staff’s ability to organize and standardize training and resources
Teachers have varied levels of knowledge and comfort with technology and are struggling to access training that supports skill development in an organized way. The result is that teachers who are confident in accessing and building on their technical skills are progressing in curriculum planning and teaching; others are overwhelmed.
Focus: on the teacher perspective: to develop insight into experiences (self and student) and use of resources.
Teachers have varied levels of comfort and skill and often share teaching resources. Those who have integrated technology into curriculum and classes have found the transition to hybrid and remote learning smoother. However, the abundance of information that is offered, demonstrated, and shared continues to overwhelm many staff.
Teachers’ self-efficacy consistently appeared as one of the most important concepts in teacher competence, including in the European Journal of Teacher Education research that examines effects on teacher competence in Germany (König, et al., 2020). Self-efficacy indicates teachers’ beliefs about their ability to succeed in specific situations. The way teachers perceive self-efficacy may influence whether or not they take action to learn more, invest effort and how long they might persist in learning something new. Teachers who feel reluctance or uncertainty toward a new technology may experience difficulty getting past uncomfortable feelings and are less open to understanding how the technology can be useful (König, et al., 2020). Teachers’ varied successful or frustrating experiences may be rooted in self-efficacy, leaving the training intervention to bridge the gap between technical training and increased and specific learner support and encouragement.
Evidence tells us that digital technologies may provide new opportunities for teaching and learning; simply having computer technology software and hardware available doesn’t necessarily lead to measurable student progress (Trust & Whalen, 2020). Teachers must draw on both content and pedagogical knowledge and include confidence about success in teaching online.
When surveyed, some teachers reported that they would have been better prepared to create technology-rich experiences and spend more time using technology with their students before the pandemic if they’d had more opportunities to learn how to do this (Trust & Whalen, 2020). They also indicated that it would have reduced the stress of transitioning for teachers, students and families and increased the likelihood of continuity in learning (Trust & Whalen, 2020). When teachers described what they’d consider meaningful and valuable training experiences they expressed the value of social, learner-centered activities such as conversations with mentors or coaches and collaborating with colleagues. Teachers expressed concern about training in that one-time PD training may not be effective for sustained behavior change and skill development (Trust & Whalen, 2020).
Experience Related Interview Questions:
How did you experience the unexpected shift to an online instructional model?
Which elements of online instruction have been most challenging for you?
Which elements of online instruction have been most challenging for students?
Which elements have been most successful for you?
Which elements have been most successful for students?
Resource and Training-Related Questions:
What is your primary resource for instructional technology training?
Have you accessed most training remotely (live-stream) or through recorded training?
How would you rank these available resources in terms of your use? (daily, weekly, occasionally, I’ve never used this).
Questions and responses provided insight into which tools are actually effective. There is an abundance of resources but pinpointing more precisely which consistently work well for teachers and their students is an important goal for future interviewing and/or surveying. Teacher interviews brought forth a consistently prevalent goal; teachers want to take the steps that will most benefit their students’ learning experiences. Teachers need supportive and consistent training and well-organized, centrally located and updated resources. The interesting issue that also emerged is that it’s often not teachers’ lack of technology skills, but the lack of organization and availability of training resources. This issue helped me look ahead to these considerations if taking this needs assessment further: Do teachers need resources to be organized in a different way? Do they need a different type of resource than what has been provided? Is there a way to group teachers so that those who struggle can get additional support?
Learner reactions can be assessed immediately following the training session using a responsive interactive tool such as Pear Deck. A reaction survey should also be sent to participants; results guide future training. The Reaction Survey could be structured in this way:
I understood the purpose of this training.
I know how to access resources related to this training in the future.
I will be able to apply what I have learned to my teaching right away.
Open Response questions:
What follow-up training or other help do you need to apply this knowledge successfully?
What might be difficult as you attempt to apply what you’ve learned?
Do you have any suggestions for making this training better?
Following a training session teachers might join an assessment group. This group would consist of no more than three teachers and one technology training staff member. In a supportive and low-stakes environment, teachers could demonstrate proficiency in selected areas and at the same time observe others’ proficiency. Teachers needing additional support could continue on in the small group learning process; proficient teachers might progress to new levels of training or be paired with peers as a way to provide support and collaboration.
Technology training staff could propose check-in observations, optionally, in a supportive and non-threatening way. Training staff could observe implementation of technology resources, provide suggestions for enhanced use of these resources and provide specific targeted learning resources based on teacher need
Teachers might complete surveys at 1, 2 and 3 months after a training session about how student learning may or may not have been positively impacted. This could provide insight into whether the training provides teachers with the knowledge and skills needed, whether instruction and learning have improved, and future training needs.
This needs assessment allows us to look at and appreciate the ways teachers may struggle with redesign of how teaching is done and the perceived pressure to meet the quickly imposed expectations change may bring about. I am also a teacher and have relatively high comfort with technology. I typically approach using new technology in a positive way but admit I am quick to dismiss certain programs and applications quickly if the benefit to teaching and learning is not immediately evident to me.
When I conduct future needs assessments, I will be more open to understanding the different ways that individuals experience frustration, the consequences of this, and push myself to listen more intently without bringing my own biases about others’ willingness to learn and expand.References
Kirkpatrick, D.L. & Kirkpatrick, J.D. (2006). Evaluating training programs: The four levels, 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
König, J., Jäger-Biela, D., & Glutsch, N. (2020) Adapting to online teaching during COVID-19 school closure: Teacher education and teacher competence effects among early career teachers in Germany. European Journal of Teacher Education. 43(4), 608-622.
Quezada, R., Talbot, C., & Quezada-Parker, K. (2020). From bricks and mortar to remote teaching: A teacher education programme‘s response to COVID-19. Journal of Education for Teaching. Retrieved October 10, 2020 from: https://doi.org/10.1080/02607476.2020.1801330
Trust, T. & Whalen, J. (2020). Should teachers be trained in emergency remote teaching? Lessons learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), 189-199. Waynesville, NC USA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education. Retrieved October 09, 2020 from https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/215995/.