Halftime Report: Administrators and Professional Development

Introduction

I am in the second to last quarter in the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. The end is near, but we are still knee deep in reading and learning! This quarter we’re discussing program evaluation and professional learning. In previous courses we posted our bi-weekly research based on various triggering questions. However, this quarter we’re doing more internal cohort work and compressing our thoughts into two bPortfolio posts. I appreciate the ability to be concise, but also this method requires us to connect 3 modules worth of questions and research which provides us the opportunity to see the related themes. The research we’ve done revolves around the ISTE Standards for Coaches. In particular, the standard four part b which focuses on professional development, program evaluation, and learning programs, “Design, develop, and implement technology- rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.”

Below you will find my triggering question for each module, relevant resources, and key takeaways I gleaned from the resources with integrated feedback from my cohort members. Finally, I conclude this post with some final thoughts.

Module 1

Triggering Question

“In what ways–thinking practical implications/steps–can educational technology university administrators take to create better learning opportunities for faculty to not only explore, but also implement the right tools into their teaching and learning.”

Resource

Keengwe, J., Kidd, T., & Kyei-Blankson, L. (2008). Faculty and Technology: Implications for Faculty Training and Technology Leadership. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), 23–28. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-008-9126-2

Key Takeaways

Lead with a Clear and Shared Vision

Administrators must have a clear vision that is well articulated. The vision should reveal what the administrator wants to accomplish. Further, and most importantly, the vision should be shared and the faculty should be onboard. This is more that presenting the vision to the faculty and inviting them to come aboard. This is about shared leadership and development of the vision where faculty champions are integrated from the very inception. “The technology vision should describe a future that is better than the present, yet be achievable in a reasonable amount of time. The vision must be clear, concise, and measurable” (p. 26).

Offer Ample Time to Explore and Learn Tools

We commonly know that time is always in high demand. Yet, administrators must offer ample time for faculty to explore and learn. It is important to not skimp on teaching the mechanics of the tool. Professors need dedicated time to learn the function of a tool, not only the disconnected pieces that may be helpful for a specific course or task.

Provide Robust Online Support

In a clear and shared vision, the administrator should reveal a support framework that includes ample online resources to provide just-in-time training (in addition to personal support). This support should be up-to-date and available in a variety of modes (e.g., text, videos, etc.). Furthermore, it is important that support is available for drop-in and appointments in-person. If possible, providing dedicated time to just brainstorm and try new things are additional ways to offer support.

Motivate with Incentives

Motivate faculty members with an incentive or reward for participating, growing, accomplishing. My professor, Dr. David Wicks recommended providing an opportunity for scholarship which is usually a requirement for faculty members in universities. A faculty learning community structure may be a helpful model for shared scholarly output.

Module 2

Triggering Question

“How can universities involve students as partners in ed tech professional learning opportunities?”

Resource

Chuang, H.-H., Thompson, A., & Schmidt, D. (2003). Faculty Technology Mentoring Programs. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 19(4), 101–106. http://doi.org/10.1080/10402454.2003.10784472

Key Takeaways

What’s Your Vision

This is more than providing an out of the box solution. There must be a mutual vision for collaboration and integration among the students and faculty. The question faculty must continually ask is whether or not their practice matches the mutual vision. Furthermore, that the students know the vision, but even more importantly, are they invested?

Technology For You

With endless technological tools, faculty need support learning the applicable skills to excel in their own learning context and with others. In a vision of partnership (see next point), students and faculty work together. Students partner with faculty on a one-to-one basis providing individualized support, opportunities for questions beyond the mass workshop style presentation.

Partnership

Building on the core of “breaking down hierarchal structure,” students learn from their faculty and faculty learn from their students. “Because of the lack of hierarchy student mentors feel comfortable approaching faculty members with comments and work closely with faculty to solve problems, share knowledge, and gain expertise” (p. 104). A model of integrating technology training using students and educators requires faculty to open themselves to learn from content experts (technological) and allow themselves to share back their own knowledge (pedagogical and specific field of study content). Annie Tremonte shared that this is all about trust for faculty. True partnership requires trust–trust of our students, Tremonte writes, “We don’t trust students to provide insight into their own learning, when it can be extremely impactful.”

Reciprocal Conversation

Similar to our experience learning about peer coaching last quarter, mentoring is in a similar vein with the key components of open dialogue and collaboration. We want to provide space and opportunities to dialogue. This is more than talking and sharing ideas. It is about listening well, asking clarifying questions, and probing well.

Mutually Beneficial Learning

The question we must ask is whether or not we offer mutually beneficial learning. There isn’t a need to have only one-sided learning when we can offer a holistic approach for student and teacher,  “…providing students with an authentic learning environment provides them with opportunities to practice skills of leadership and communication” (p. 105). This can be done within communities of learning that launched with mutual desire to teach and learn from each other. “The structure of the mentoring communities is not linear or hierarchical. Instead, these communities are asymmetric and connected by interaction and collaboration” (p. 105).

Module 3

Triggering Question

What are emerging trends in higher education of educational technology professional development?

Resources

“Professors Can Learn to Be More Effective Instructors”

Competencies for Teaching with Technology in Higher Education

Key Takeaways

Safe Space

Faculty need a safe place to explore and experiment. This is more than just a dedicated space or scheduled time. It is really about creating a culture around exploration and experimentation. What would it look like to encourage faculty to spend 25% of their professional development time and fun to simply try new things without requirements, meeting standards, or any indication from administration to produce something new? Maybe the administration could even fund it with additional grants. Maybe this could be a new way to look at so called “innovation grants” that usually don’t actually spur innovation or where the requirements are so deep that innovation is stunted because of bureaucratic red tape.

Informal Learning is Learning

Count the informal learning experiences as integral to one’s professional development plan. It does impact the faculty member and does trickle down to the teaching and learning experiences students encounter. Especially with budget constraints for travel and professional conferences, now is the perfect time to think more broadly about how professor learn and how they can surround themselves with resources on a daily basis. Rather than subordinating informal learning, encourage such practices and develop frameworks and requirements for faculty to find opportunities, share those with others, and increase their skills.

Motivate

Building on the informal learning, provide more intrinsically motivated professional development. Maybe free lunch can just be part of it, but provide space and opportunities for faculty to develop their own areas in which they want to learn. Come alongside faculty governance and develop a plan to motivate faculty in productive ways.

ISTE for Higher Education

One emerging trend I am excited to see what happens is the development of the Teaching with Technology Competencies. There is much potential as ISTE-like standards are formed, crowd-source style, for higher education.

Conclusion

The past three modules have allowed me to explore at a broad level and sharpen the key takeaways into a perfect tip. While there is much to glean from the key takeaways themselves, there is one point that rises to the top, collaboration. Yes, I know, this is an overused word in our current technologically-connected world where everything is about connecting, working together, etc. Beyond the ubiquitous language on the latest digital technology tool, the type of collaboration I am talking about encompases the idea of shared leadership and shared responsibiltiy. An administrator will be successful in providing professional development when she creates it as a collaborative and shared process. One in which faculty and students have equal buy-in and their voice matters. Where a variety of resources, concepts, and more can come to one table and have equal influence. This is the sort of collaboration that encourages shared work and shared success (or failure). There is much potential when we work together around a table and, when appropriate, ignore our hierarchy. To that end, collaboration is a shared adventure where each individual offers an important and unique perspective that creates a diverse journey that holistically incorporates more than what’s considered normal and thrusts us forward together into a new sphere of learning.

  3 comments for “Halftime Report: Administrators and Professional Development

  1. Marsha Scott
    February 29, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Ryan, your key take aways for each module relates well with developing and implementing technology-professional learning programs. You helped me to better understand trends occurring in higher education for professional learning.
    I enjoyed reading about your findings, especially about “Collaboration…encompasses the idea of shared leadership and shared responsibility.” Professional development needs buy-in and for each stakeholder to provide their input is valuable. Also I still think mutual learning is powerful for both teachers and students. Thanks for sharing, Ryan!

  2. March 1, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Thank you for your comprehensive look at the past three modules and how they combine to one key takeaway of collaboration. Your discussion of how an administrator can provide support by fostering a shared vision with staff, as well as ample time to explore is great. Additionally, your discussion of how to involve students as partners in professional learning is a helpful reminder. You mentioned again the need for a shared vision now between the educator and students that breaks down the hierarchy present. Learning should not be a one-sided endeavor as you’ve said.
    Finally, you shared the emerging trends seen in educational technology and that professional learning needs to be a safe place to explore and experiment with these trends. I couldn’t agree with more. As you so helpfully remind, safe doesn’t refer to merely the place or the time, but the institutional culture present. Yes!

  3. March 2, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Excellent and well thought-out post. You did a great job of succinctly summarizing the first half of the quarter, it helped me to reflect back on the work I’ve done, as well. I really like how you describe your deepening understanding as a way to “explore at a broad level and sharpen the key takeaways into a perfect tip.” This is such a great visual for all the work and time you’ve invested. I also really like how you shine a spotlight on the idea of boiling down collaboration to be a joint partnership where everyone is valued, equal and heard. I firmly believe it’s what we all need to be successful in moving forward. Great job and thank you!

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