Be prepared, this might be a little bit out there. Actually it’s not as it’s a notion that we all know.
Over a long period of time when it comes to ICT in the classroom the long held belief is that by spending a whole lot of money on a whole lot of resources will improve the teacher take up of using ICT. I get increasingly frustrated when I hear the comments from teachers that ‘…we’ll if I had more (insert the words computers/cameras/laptops/IWB’s et al) I could do so much more with my students.’
Well, I have in my opinion, the solution on where the money should be spent. An surprisingly it’s not a device or piece of software.
One of the best ways to spend your ICT budget is on…..drum roll please…… Staff PD!
Yes, I know it’s not a new concept, but it’s something we often neglect when it comes to ICT. We often spend our resources on getting the devices into our schools and classrooms, but when it comes to getting the best out of them I think it’s an area that is getting better, but is still not great.
One of the frustrations for some teachers is that they often feel that they are having all this new and different technology thrust upon them and are expected to just ‘make it work’ because they have it. In business, its said that for every $ spent on new technology approximately $5 is spent on the PD to learn how to use it.* In education I don’t think this would be the case.
We are seeing more and more money being spent in schools in relation to ICT which is fantastic and will make the learning experience more engaging and exciting for students and teachers alike, but unless we get the full potential out of the capabilities and possibilities of the technology then it is money potentially wasted. My experience in NZ this year where I saw amazing work being done with little ICT resources, but a focus on whole school/staff ICT PD, highlights that when teachers understand what can be done fantastic opportunities for learning and engagement are possible.
In literacy and numeracy we spend lots of money and time on programs and resources that have a large teacher PD component to it. We would actually spend more money on ICT resources in schools and less on the PD to go with it. I don’t get that. Anything we invest money on in our schools we should be also be investing on the best out of it.
So let’s get the devices in the classrooms and into the hands of the students, but as we do that, let’s get consistent, relevant and ongoing PD for our teachers as well.
* It is the end of the year and this exact figure is a recollection of something I read a while ago so it could be potentially inaccurate – but hopefully you get the drift of what I meant.