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T.H.E. Focus :: March 13, 2008

Professional Development in Technology, 2008

Jim Gates is fond of quoting from Camelot: "If you want to be happy, learn something." As a technology trainer for Pennsylvania's Capitol Area Intermediate Unit, Gates spends much of his time trying to help teachers learn a very specific thing: using technology to improve curriculum.

Many of the professional development strategies that Jim Gates uses--incorporating technology into curricula, bringing teachers together at conferences, providing mentors so that technical assistance is always available--are espoused by CDW Government, Inc. (CDW-G), which monitors the state of educational technology, offers technological advice, presents a vast array of hardware and software products, and provides customer support.

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Innovative Professional Development in Technology

Professional development in technology has been undergoing some significant changes lately. The days of teachers attending workshops, learning PowerPoint and a dozen other applications, and then returning to their schools to try to figure out how to use what they learned--those days may be numbered.

Case in point: Kristin Hokanson is a "Technology Integration Coach" as part of a Classrooms for the Futures grant in Upper Merion Area High School, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Hokanson's goal is simply to help teachers use technology more effectively. Indeed, she does facilitate some training, but more often she's meeting with individual teachers before and after school; sometimes she's helping them in the classroom. "I'm not a curriculum expert," says Hokanson. "The teachers are. But I'm a technology expert. And I'm available all the time." That's the first significant change in professional development in technology--it now happens during actual teaching time, when, not surprisingly, it's needed the most.

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