Faculty Technology Assessment

I’m working on a technology self-assessment for our faculty. We’ve collected a number of surveys from the Independent School community and are using them as a base to create our own. I’ll publish that on the School Computing Wiki when it is done — hopefully by the end of the month.

Our assessment is surveying application skills: Wordprocessing, Spreadsheets, Presentation Software, E-mail, Internet, our Student Information System. Our next step is to use the NETS standards to give us real world examples of how to apply technology skills in the classroom. Once we have the results of our skills survey, we’ll offer 1 hour professional development sessions that are focused on applying technology skills for in the classroom.

It is my opinion that there need to be clear expectations on faculty that they keep up to date on current research on teaching and learning, and within that, there is an expectation that they know what technology is out there to use as a tool to enhance the learning in their classrooms. Our goals of these 1 hour sessions is to give them technology skills and a way to use technology to enhance the learning in their classrooms.

I would love to see how other folks are training and evaluating faculty. My feeling is that evaluation needs to be based upon faculty teaching and student learning. Within this evaluation of teaching and learning, tools such as textbooks, worksheets, technology, etc. are critical as they are tools to enable the best possible learning results for all students.

What do you think of this?

If you have good examples, add them to the School Computing Wiki – Teaching with Technology space.

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5 thoughts on “Faculty Technology Assessment

  1. Alex, evaluating faculty for technology skills is daunting. Let’s talk about our objectives: what are we trying to measure? Don’t we first need to know learning objectives for all of their classes? Then we can see whether their tech aptitude lends itself to accomplishing those tasks, right?

    This is a real challenge for me (and my school) as well. There is a huge range of technical knowledge/skill, but does it really matter as long as teachers are using tools well to accomplish their classroom goals?

    If an English teacher has developed a creative journaling blog (with your help if needed) but cannot use spreadsheets, how do we assess their proficiency overall? Each individual can be looked at in so many ways, very complicated.

    Perhaps I am not as concerned with this question because we have developed a culture at our school that technology use (or acquiring the skills) is expected. If you don’t have that from an administrative level, I suppose you have to go out and seek it. This could help you do that.

    Sorry for the long comment, just babbling this morning.

  2. Alex,

    You are speaking about two different skill sets for teachers. One is their technical skills which you are addressing via your professional development and assessment. All well and good and necessary to function as a professional, but it does not necessarily relate to integration of technology within a curriculum. This is a completely different skill which you cannot assume teachers will be able to do just because they have the technical skills. This has to deal with construction of curriculum which is another skill that needs to be developed.

    And you comment that there needs to be evaluation tied to this is critical. Without feedback and follow up from an administrator or an evaluation tool that does not make this a priority, you sometimes just spin your wheels. This is the situation that some fall into.

    I look forward to hearing you report back on the success (or failure) of this project.

  3. Vinnie and arvind really have me thinking critically about faculty professional development. Much of it goes back to the conversation that arvind and I had on one of our early webcasts — we asked if we have high enough expectations for faculty. It all comes down to the principles defined in Good to Great. You have to have the right people on the boat before you start moving forward.

    One of the problems is that expectations for faculty have changed a great deal over the past decades. The expectation for a teacher 25 years ago was different than it is now. Now, I expect a faculty member to teach to students with different strengths and to those strengths, to be an good advisor, to use technology to streamline their professional lives and enhance the learning in their classrooms, and measure all of this so that they know where they are growing and what needs to get better.

    In order to have faculty who can do all of these things, you need to have clear job descriptions that include the tasks listed above, and then provide good professional development opportunities to help them become better teachers, effective advisers, and competent users of technology to enhance their classes.

    The last paragraph makes the progressive educator in me feel very uncomfortable, but I’m getting older and realizing that a common knowledge base for faculty is important — especially considering the expectations of our community and the responsibilities listed above. That’s not to say that each faculty member has the same talents/skills, but that they have a clear understanding and ability to achieve the goals of the job described above.

    Now back to Technology Professional Development — I agree with Vinnie when he says that there are technological skills, and that are separate from curriculum integration. This is why I am surveying faculty and staff then offering them targeted skill training to fill in gaps in technical skills. Not that everyone has to be a great Excel user, but I do think that everyone should know what you can do with a Spreadsheet and have some exposure to it. The same is true for basic office functions, web browsing, and e-mail.

    Once basic skills are assessed and basic training provided for those who need exposure, we need to move to application of these technologies in classroom settings quickly. Just as I would in a classroom of students.

    Many technologies can be quickly learned and a lesson planned in one professional development seminar so that the technology can be integrated into the curriculum of a teacher the next day. This means that professional development is attached to curriculum development, assessment and learning. I examples of this see this each week when I listen to Teachers Teaching Teachers on EdTechTalk. They are discussing how the tools, enhance or detract from learning.

    So once there is a basic understanding of tools we will begin to offer sessions such as blogging to enhance your class conversations or using your SmartBoard to enhance learning for visual learners. Hopefully these sessions will be offered with faculty who are using the technologies so that we have examples of real life technology integration. There are tons of other thoughts I have here — What ideas would you have here?

    Lastly, I want to say that arvind is right on about culture. Having a faculty who’s culture it is to be learners and improve their curriculum using technology, or any other tool is critical. Teachers as professionals who learn and grow along with their students is what it is all about.

    I look forward to reporting back on our assessment, and our targeted professional development. Almost done with the assessment and sending it out the first week of December. Next I’ll be working on the web site to support our training sessions. Lots to do. I look forward to getting feedback from faculty and my blogging network. Thanks for reading.

  4. I often wonder how you can assess troubleshooting skills. The same teacher arvind talks about blogging in English might not know how to create a formula in excel, but their willingness to try so often determines their success. How can we teach troubleshooting skills directly? Has anyone ever seen a general “troubleshooting” class or professional development before? Willingness to experiment is key here. This skill might be too vague, but one I find to be the most important of all skills. Can we assess troubleshooting skills? Attitudes/beliefs about technology is directly related to this… which could be a whole new topic!

    A school culture that encourages acquiring tech skills would hopefully build a group of teachers with troubleshooting abilities, but I think emphasizing troubleshooting could help lead a school that doesn’t have that culture already.

  5. Pingback: Faculty Survey Update… at Learning Blog

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