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Technology Training for Teachers Makes a Big Difference
Justina Nixon-Saintil is Director of Education for the Verizon Foundation.
On Wednesday, I was on hand to see the fruits of a new partnership between the Verizon Foundation and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), a global organization that trains educators in the effective use of technology. It was the second day of a three-day training session at Charles Carroll Middle School in Maryland, one of 12 schools around the country taking part in this project.
At Charles Carroll, six science and math teachers and a technology coach are learning how to use mobile devices -- in their case iPads -- to better engage their middle school students. During one exercise they leveraged the true mobility of their devices by exploring the school and its grounds seeking visual examples of different triangles and parts of the food chain. Then they created screencasts on the iPads to reflect their findings. During the school year students will be the ones to use their iPads to explore the grounds looking for and documenting examples of their understanding.
Feedback to the training has been outstanding. In fact, one science teacher said she learned more in the last two days of training than she learned all of last year.
This quick improvement bears out what studies tell us: teacher training makes a big difference in effective classroom instruction. When new technology is introduced into schools without continuous coaching and support for the staff, only 15 percent of teachers end up using it effectively. Add the support, and effectiveness zooms to 85 percent.
That's why we've partnered with ISTE to give teachers at 12 underserved schools year-long professional development to help them apply mobile technologies to support digital-age learning in science, technology, education, and math (STEM). We know technology can profoundly improve education. But it has to be introduced and supported in the right way in order to become a force for transformation.
I saw it happening right in front of me.