When planning your professional development, it is recommended
that you review policies, regulations, and agreements and analyze
needs. Use the questions in this section to guide your initial
To analyze needs, consider the following elements:
- What technological knowledge, skills, and attitudes do
current staff members have?
- Has the district surveyed staff to learn what staff think
- Has the district asked staff what incentives might be
- Has the district polled the community to learn public
attitudes and expectations about new technologies in
- How many computer experts school staff, vendors,
and paid or volunteer "partners" from business,
colleges, and universities are available to
present staff development programs and act as coaches?
Equipment and Supplies
- What equipment and supplies are already on hand?
- Where is equipment for staff development located (or
where might it be)?
- What changes in facilities, furniture and furnishings,
and hardware accessories will be needed to ensure staff
health, safety, and comfort while using new technologies?
- What is the current budget and source of funds for staff
- Are they adequate, considering that staff development for
technology use is more complex than most traditional
- Has a community awareness program helped taxpayers
understand the need for staff development for new
- Has the district pursued staff development grants,
donations, and scholarships?
- If so, has the time and salary investment paid off
- Would it be cost effective to offer staff additional
tuition reimbursement for higher education rather than
developing inservice training on certain topics?
- Would it be more cost effective to use outside
consultants to assist with initial staff development
activities for a new technology?
Sources of information for conducting a needs analysis:
- School district technology committee members
- Staff and community focus groups
- Staff, student, and community surveys (collected on paper
forms or by telephone)
- Surveys of staff members jobs and tasks (collected
from records, staff surveys, or observation)
- Existing records from the school district, community
organization, educational agencies, and institutions
(especially the state department of education)
- Lists of job tasks and related competencies from
Special needs of adult learners:
- Adults are more concerned than children are about time.
- Adults have more experiences and a richer base of
knowledge to draw upon and have more
"unlearning" to do as they abandon old habits
- Concrete experience: unstructured opportunities to
"play around" with a new idea or tool
- Reflective observations: opportunities to "stand
back" to "look over" (literally or
figuratively) a new idea or tool in order to develop
several perspectives about it
- Abstract conceptualization: opportunities to perceive the
symbolic implications of a new idea to tool and form
theories about its relationships to other ideas and tools
- Active experimentation: opportunities to use a new idea
of tool to accomplish something practical
Ongoing Programs and Support
Successful staff development for making the most of new
technologies demands continuing structured support. An initial
technology program can inspire high levels of staff motivation,
but many critical success factors are beyond individual staff
members control. Here are some successful tools for
providing continuing support that is crucial to successful staff
development programs in technology implementation:
- Telephone hotline
- Upskilling opportunities
- User groups
- Peer coaching
Keeping in mind adults special learning needs and
peoples aversion to change, school districts can craft
messages that motivate interest in staff development. Careful
phrasing will spark interest:
- "Keep your skills in
up to date" and
"Learn the latest about
" appeals to
desire for knowledge, mastery, self-esteem, and economic
- "Share this special learning experience with your
" appeals to desire for exploration,
collaboration, and sociability
- "Come to this workshop and get your hands
" appeals to desire for novelty, sensory
stimulation, and knowledge
- "A skills update in
- "A demonstration of current
- "A technology users group discussion of"
- "An opportunity for hands-on practice
The greatest motivators may be the payoffs of effective
- A developing sense of mastery
- Improved job skills and opportunities for continued
employment and salary increases/promotion
- Enhanced efficiency and creativity on the job
- Satisfaction from seeing students learning improve
- Shared vocabulary, interests, and relationship with other
users of technology within the educational field and the
Keep the following pointers in mind:
- Do not plan to start using technology in an
unrealistically short period of time that does not allow
for adequate staff development.
- Allow twice the time you think that you need for
implementing software and hardware systems and training
teachers to use them. Allow additional time for teachers
to practice their newly acquired skills and do not try to
teach them everything at once.
- Anticipate major distracters or competitors that impinge
on teachers time and efforts, such as new statewide
competency testing programs and new curriculum projects.
- Provide leadership, specific planning, and directions for
how teachers should learn to use new technology.
- Help teachers to believe in the potential benefits of
technology use, understand them and be skilled in using
- Show how technology can help teachers solve real
classroom problems, adding more value than they cost in
time, money, and effort.
|"You know youve been
One of your ideas wins a grant and
becomes the basis for a staff development workshop."
Renee Heiss, Northern Burlington County Regional High
School, Burlington, NJ (NEA Learning)