Professional Development :: Oregon

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THE OREGON ED TECH PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CADRE: A STATEWIDE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY

In Oregon, professional development experts built a team to foster networking among educators about ed tech.

“The Oregon Professional Development Cadre has been instrumental in supporting my own personal growth—providing time and opportunity to collaborate with colleagues around the state, share innovations, and learn effective strategies for improving student achievement.”
—Todd Hamilton, Instructional Technology Specialist/Professional Developer, Eugene School District 4J

The Oregon Ed Tech Professional Development Cadre (pdc.oetc.org) evolved from a meeting five years ago to introduce professional development providers from Oregon’s math, science, English, and social science professional organizations to interactive web resources. As the group shared success stories about how they were integrating technology into instruction and compared favorite web resources, it became clear that a new professional learning community was emerging.

The Oregon Department of Education and the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC), an organization that provides low-cost purchasing options, professional development, and influence in the integration of technology into education for five states in the Northwest (OR, WA, AK, ID, and MT), decided that this opportunity for ongoing, sustained professional development was too powerful to pass up. Thus the Oregon Ed Tech Professional Development Cadre was born.

The goal of the cadre is to identify and disseminate best practices targeting technology integration into teaching and learning, by:

  • providing a forum for networking and collaborative work
  • focusing on exemplary staff development skills
  • modeling effective instructional strategies
  • demonstrating applications of emerging technologies

During the 2006-2007 school year, the cadre expanded from 40 to 85 members; most of the members are administrators, curriculum directors, technology specialists, or teachers. The cadre’s meetings have been conducted by three strands: Emerging Technologies, Technology Integration, and Effective Professional Development Strategies. Emerging Technologies focused on Web 2.0 tools for the classroom, introducing tools such as Furl (File Uniform Resource Locators), blogs, video blogs, Spresent, Gickr, Trailfire, wikis, and all things Google. Technology Integration focused on the effective use of spreadsheets, collaborative communication, and collaborative mapping tools for concept development. Effective Professional Development Strategies focused on the principles described in Best Practice: Today’s Standards for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools, by Steven Zemelman, Harvey Daniels, and Arthur Hyde (Heinemann, 2005). These are best practices for classroom instruction as well as professional development.

What does it take to establish an ed tech professional development cadre?

  1. developing partnerships to share leadership, marketing, cost, successes, and momentum
  2. identifying a group of people who are excited about educational technology and who are already providing quality professional development in technology integration
  3. selecting those who rise to the top or those who are potential leaders to become cadre leaders
  4. focusing on effective professional development that models best practices for adult learning, then focusing on technology integration and emerging technologies
  5. supporting cadre members as they provide professional development back in their regions or districts—partners, mentors, and when possible, funding, all help to build local capacity
  6. establishing a web presence that serves as a key communication and collaboration resource.

The cadre’s meetings take place face-to-face. Each participant uses a laptop to work on activities and projects that can easily be embedded into the professional development the participants are providing for their districts or regions.

Recently, the cadre invited high school students to attend a meeting and teach its members how to make an effective video. Cadre members then developed videos that they later showed to their school boards, communities, and students’ parents to share successes of the Title II-D programs.

“Skills that I have used (for staff development) have helped me help classrooms in my schools move technology integration to a new level. I have learned the strategies to share the technology skills with other teachers. Advantages: I learn more skills by being connected to the best and brightest in the field. Second: I get to practice those skills and bring them back to my district.”
—Tim Chase, technology and reading teacher, Bend-La Pine School District

Expanding capacity across the state has been critical. The Oregon Department of Education and the OETC worked together to identify funding sources that provided for mini-grants of approximately $5,000 to districts and education service districts for starting up regional cadres. Our aim was to increase our capacity for providing professional development to teachers on the effective integration of technology into teaching and learning. Eleven grants were awarded to districts or ESDs that are now operating their own cadres. Several have reported that due to their success—and teachers’ calling for more access to this professional development—their districts are either augmenting this funding or planning to absorb the costs next year.

The Ed Tech Professional Development Cadre site provides easy access to resources, success stories, strategies, and cadre meeting archives. This communication tool has served not only as an archive for past meetings, it is a tool used during our meetings for demonstrating, sharing, reflecting, and networking. The cadre is trying to practice what it preaches, and this sustained professional development is making a difference for teachers and students.

-Carla Wade is the technology education specialist at the Oregon DoE. She can be reached here.

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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