Friday, April 26, 2013

Microsoft Professional Development: Teaching with Technology

As a part of the Microsoft Expert Educator program, we are encouraged to try out the free Teaching with Technology professional development modules available at the Partners in Learning network. (Educators can join the PiL network to access professional development, learning activities and the hot topics blog).  In this post, I am sharing key points and reflections from the course Selecting ICT resources to support curriculum outcomes

About the training

  • Personalized Learning: As I explained in my previous post, I like how the Microsoft PD model "practices what it preaches".  We know that different students need to learn different things and that each student may need a different learning path to meet their goals, but often when it comes to teacher education we don't apply that principle.  Microsoft has made personalized learning available and effective with this training.  Start with a pre-assessment to identify areas of strength and gaps in your knowledge about teaching with technology.  The pre-assessment will award you completion for the courses in which you already have proficiency and suggest modules that focus on your areas for improvement.  Why relearn what you already know?  
 Big Ideas
  • The need for risk taking & adaptability: It is impossible to avoid technical issues...something will inevitably crop up when teaching with technology.   Lessons will not always go perfectly (they often don't even when we're not using technology).  Teachers need to be willing to take risks, have a backup plan and to adapt as the learning activity unfolds.  Most of the time, I don't even worry about what might go wrong when I'm teaching/working with technology, I just know that being flexible is part of my job as a teacher, facilitator and learner.
  • Finding the best tool/technique for the job: A recurring theme of this training module was the need to find the best method/lesson/activity/technology to support learning.  It might be "traditional instruction" for some learning goals or a new, exciting, tech-infused lesson for other goals.  


Favorite Quotes
  •  "If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail."  - Abraham Maslow
I liked this reminder to use tools that best support the learning/solve the problem, rather than starting with a tool.  I think it is really important for students and teachers to explore a variety of tools and then develop the competencies to be able to choose the best one(s) to address an issue, complete a task, solve a problem. 

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