How Tech Can Improve Teachers’ Professional Development
Learning Never Stops
Every teacher knows that learning never stops – not their students’ learning and not their own. However, how teachers can access resources for their professional development has shifted dramatically over the past few years, with greater opportunities for teachers to lead their individual personal development in ways – and in places – which suit them. While the pandemic posed huge challenges for educators around the world, some good has emerged in the teacher professional development space. Traditionally, professional development would involve teachers gathering together at a predetermined time and place, and a teacher’s ability to attend would depend on their ability to get there. Not to mention the immense workload they face: UK teachers on average work 11.2 hours of unpaid overtime a week. If that location was away from their usual place of work or involved additional travel time, certain groups could find themselves disadvantaged and, in some cases, unable to fully participate; stuck at home with immense piles of duties instead. Technology has changed that.
Technology and Professional Development
Tech providers like Google for Education have revolutionised how teachers can engage with – and lead – their professional self-development. Google for Education engages teachers from their starting points, whether they are new learners getting to grips with the basics, or whether they are more advanced learners ready to move beyond the fundamentals.
How Tech Empowers Teachers
So how does technology empower teachers? Easily – by enabling teachers to be in charge of their own professional development. Teachers are empowered to use the available tools to identify their strengths and areas of opportunity. Some educational continuing professional development providers – such as the British Council – also provide digital resources where school leaders can work with their staff to identify training pathways that both support the individual needs of the teachers as well as the needs of the educational institution, providing a common language and framework within which all needs can be met.
Tech Helps in Keeping Track
Another advantage of using professional development platforms to enhance teacher learning is that it is easier to keep track of the training that has been done, and the outcomes that have been achieved. Traditionally, teachers would leave in-person CPD sessions armed with paperwork and notes which could be easily lost or forgotten about. The advantage of tech-based professional development is that paper-based notes and handouts are not needed. Notes and materials can be kept digitally and referred to wherever the user can access the internet. When information is easily retrievable, then learning is much more powerful. It enables training to become embedded into practice far more quickly than it might have done otherwise.
Tech-Based Training is Inclusive
Just like students, teachers have a diverse set of needs themselves – and those needs may be visible or invisible. Meeting the needs of all teachers in a traditional CPD setting can be challenging, but tech alleviates many of the issues that can arise. The software used can ensure that the content is accessible to all, regardless of their needs. It can also be accessed at a time and place to suit the user, while encouraging and enabling collaboration. It can be common for staff members with additional caring responsibilities outside of the classroom to be unintentionally disadvantaged when a training course requires them to be in a specific place at a specific time. Allowing them to complete the training at a time convenient to them increases the likelihood of professional development. One great example of this is the Ofsted framework, which requires leaders and managers to understand and take into account the main pressures on staff. Learning isn’t just reserved for students. With the right tech, teachers can continue to take their careers even further – and expand their knowledge. By harnessing the right resources, both schools and teachers can benefit from where new advancements can take them.