By removing “how-to” workshops, the International School of Bangkok made connecting technology training more meaningful. It emphasized connections and learning.
Teachers often feel like they are in an alien place when they explore technology. This can leave them feeling unsure and hesitant. Teachers educators and technology resource professionals face the challenge of connecting technology teachers with educational technology in a way that inspires confidence as well as competence. Teachers must have the opportunity to learn new technologies through training programs. However, schools need to go beyond simply teaching technology. They must help teachers understand the relationship between technology and student learning.
The International School of Bangkok is a school that serves 2,000 students in grades K-12. It recently began a three-year project to bring technology into the classroom. The school bought computer equipment, set up technical support systems, and built a campuswide network. After the technology was installed, we focused on the development of instructional materials for the school’s 190 teachers. Teachers learned how to use scanners, digital cameras, video editing, and software Moore Norman Technology programs in after-school workshops.
We quickly realized, despite the high attendance at the workshops that our instructional design approach was not working. Although connecting technology was growing in popularity, very few teachers integrated it into their teaching methods. Instead, they relied on a yellow-sticky-note approach to incorporating a particular piece of software into an existing lesson plan, course outline, curriculum or curriculum. While many students use word processors to write reports and complete homework, English teachers do not use word processing programs for teaching writing. Math and science teachers also failed to recognize the increased data-gathering potential and investigative possibilities offered by computer-based probes and sensors.
A New Learning Framework
We needed a new learning structure with common themes that could be used to explore the role of connecting technology in learning. Chip Bruce’s model was the basis of our framework. It uses what John Dewey called the greatest educational resource, the natural urge to inquire, use language, enter the social world, build or make things and express oneself (Bruce and Levin 1997). To structure our work around Bruce’s model, we used it to adapt his: inquiry, communication and construction.
Training New Leaders
After the workshop model was established, we created a “train-the-trainer” program to build relationships among teachers and highlight good work in schools. Teachers who were in the curriculum design program were trained to run learning connection workshops during an inservice day. The preparation for teacher-leaders was focused on three main needs: getting participants to adopt the framework, giving them experience in designing curriculum and evaluating learning within a connecting technology supported environment, as well as familiarizing them the model for their workshops.