No matter the region, state, school, or district, every successful technology implementation has one thing in common.
If you guessed ‘properly trained users’, then you’re right on the money! Some schools have professional development built right into their calendars, other times it’s up to teachers to get creative with their hours. Either way, having the right approach to professional learning can mean a world of difference in the results you see from your instructional technology.
Imagine buying your dream car, but never learning how to drive. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Your instructional technology can do a lot for you and your students, but only if you know how to use it properly. That’s why it’s important, when choosing technology, to look for companies that offer a mix of professional learning to meet a variety of learning needs and the demands of your busy schedule.
Traditionally, schools who want to purchase training days have had to navigate district calendars and budgetary constraints, while also coordinating substitute teachers. While there are few options that rival the effectiveness of on-site training, sometimes complicated logistics can press schools to seek out virtual alternatives to get the job done.
Many instructional platforms offer free online certificate courses (like Classworks Smartguide) that bring users up to speed on weaving key features into their teaching practices. Plus, on-demand access to these courses provides an opportunity for users to revisit topics and explore new ways to impact learning. On-demand training options mean teachers don’t need to wait for their district-mandated PD day to roll around. Also, it affords teachers who want to learn at a slower or faster pace, the ability to do so.
As great as virtual training is, data tells us that in-person training leads to more successful implementations. Having an expert onsite for immediate feedback and coaching is especially helpful for those of whom that learning new technology doesn’t come easily. This means that having an open channel to communicate with product experts is a necessity for those who elect for virtual learning. In Classworks, teachers use Classworks Connect to schedule free coaching sessions on common topics or the topic of your choice.
So, what’s the best route to take when trying to determine if your school would benefit more from online or on-site professional learning? In a perfect world, the correct answer is both! Districts who receive on-site training supplemented with free online courses and virtual coaching typically see the strongest implementations, and the biggest gains for students (see our new data study).
When you’re deciding on implementing a new tech resource for your school, there’s a lot to be said by how much value is placed on professional learning. Having a variety of support options for teachers is a critical part of any successful technology endeavor. Stakeholders should always factor in the cost of professional learning into their investment in technology. Otherwise, you run the risk of incurring greater costs when the results don’t match your expectations -- and we’re not talking strictly dollars here. If teachers don’t know how to effectively implement new software, what guarantee is there for students to understand their new learning tools?
On-site training is an ideal scenario for every new user. During expertly crafted workshops, trainers are able to transform product knowledge into actual practices that blend seamlessly into your day-to-day activities. After training has concluded, users need access to an environment where they can brush up on their skills, ask questions and receive feedback, and retain their new knowledge.