Sunday, March 31, 2019

Stage a Well-Designed Saturday Session and They Will Come!

Back in 1996 (wow, that was a LONG time ago), I wrote an article for publication in Technology Connections (3(3): 13-14) magazine. The article? Stage a Well-Designed Saturday Session and They Will Come! 
Available via ERIC

I did a quick google search and found that it's been cited many times. What was all the excitement about? Too bad, you won't find a bootleg copy online. While 1996 may have been a good year, it was not so easy to publish content online (although many of us did try to). Now, you have a copy of the article below.

Well, here's an oldy but...well, you decide if it's still a goody. A question that's worth reflecting is, "How well have my 1996 assertions held up now that we are in 2019?"

Stage a Well-Designed Saturday Session and They Will Come!
"What?!? Come on a Saturday? Are you out of your mind?" said one elementary teacher to my suggestion that instructional technology training be done on Saturday mornings. When I first heard that response several years ago, I felt discouraged. Would technology ever be integrated into the curriculum and how could we accomplish change if teachers did not want to learn? 
Years later, with countless hours of instructional technology staff development under my belt, I know the truth. While most teachers will claim that they will not attend technology training, the fact is that they will. They will also come to after-school training. And, it's a good thing, too.
According to research (OTA), the role of the classroom teacher is critical to the full development and use of technology in schools. If teachers are not the focus of the technology training, then technology will fail. 

Instructional Technology Design: Points to Consider 

As teachers and recognizing the necessity of integrating technology into the curriculum, we must begin by addressing the design and implementation of an instructional technology staff development program.
#1: Technology's potential is largely unexploited. 
Over the past years, various technologies have found their way into education. Most failed because administrators put it in but expected teachers to use it. Teachers received little training, and were not part of the decision-making process to bring the technology to the school. In order to take advantage of technology, I involve teachers from the beginning, understanding that while I may write the proposal and technology plan, it will be the classroom teachers, not the special programs teachers, upon whom the responsibility will lie. I reassure classroom teachers that extensive staff development will be provided.
#2: Most teachers want to learn technology but lack time, access, and on-site support. 
In order to address this, develop a campus technology plan that makes time for teachers to explore and learn to use a computer. Emphasize that while teachers will not become expert users, they will be able to use the computer and additional technology instructionally. My staff development sessions follow this pattern:
  • Introduce how to use technology for specific instructional tasks with lots of hands-on time;
  • Individual follow-up modelling in the classroom (using SuperSub concept);
  • Whole class follow-up and sharing. By necessity, training must take place before/after-school, during contracted time (school day) and summers/weekends. Yet, time is not often enough. 
Without a computer or the technology to go back to in their classroom, teachers are seriously hobbled. From past experience, many administrators are wisely reluctant to purchase technology just to see it waste away. However, research suggests that having one to four computers in a classroom is a more comfortable setting for teachers to use technology. With technology in their classroom, both students and teachers are apt to use it when they need to, not when the computer lab is ready for them. Therefore, technology plans must allow teachers to earn hours towards getting a computer (or more than one) for classroom and weekend/summer use. This is a powerful incentive for teachers.
Other powerful training incentives include providing copies of the software and manual that teachers are trained on, educator computer purchase programs, and summer/weekend loan programs. As mentioned earlier, classroom follow-up sessions ensure the integration of technology. This necessitates on-site support.
As a veteran campus technology coordinator, I know that on-site support is critical. Unfortunately, most technology coordinators are saddled with classrooms and instructional technology duties. Site administrators must decide on how to help balance the load. Usually, an extra planning period specifically for technology works well. Campus technology coordinators can log their activities during that time and share them with administration.
#3: Lesson plans, related materials/handouts and curriculum guides must have clear and relevant objectives.  
While hands-on training addresses a fundamental need involved in integrating technology into the curriculum, technology has to be interwoven into the curriculum. Starting out, teachers weave technology into the curriculum through their lesson plans. Often, they take lesson plans that have been written and "add" technology on. While this approach works with some success, and is a necessary developmental step for teachers, integrating technology will not happen until technology is used to do things that were unavailable before technology appeared. Integrating technology involves redesigning our lesson plans. Certainly, this flies in the face of those teachers who use lesson plans from year to year without adjusting them to their class' needs. 
For the most part, teachers do change how they teach because of their genuine concern for their students. The questions for these teachers is, "How do we work technology into our already packed curriculum?" and "What do we do with the students once we start?" Curriculum change is driven by what students need to know. In the past, for example, curriculums were driven by arithmetic and computation. Now, math curriculums are beginning to incorporate arithmetic and computation within the grander scope of developing creative problem-solving, decision-making strategies and cooperative learning. 
The answer to the teacher's first question is not an easy one. It is that technology is best suited to curriculum that involves discovery learning, developing higher-order thinking skills, and the comprehension and communication of ideas and information. If the current curriculum--that which focuses on lower order thinking skills (basic skills) as a prerequisite to higher-order thinking skills (metacognition, problem-solving & decision-making)--does not change, the computer will remain a drill-n-practice tutor. The answer to the second question is much easier. 
Once the first question is answered so that H.O.T.S. are addressed, technology becomes a tool for comprehending and communicating, serving both students and teachers. Yet, writing lesson plans can be a difficult process. I am currently developing databases that will address these needs and assist in the development of lesson plans that incorporate technology. Notice the word "incorporate."
The job of "integrating" will fall on the classroom teacher and the curriculum writers. The "key" to integrating technology is the classroom teacher. It is she who can shut the door, or open it. Supporting them has to be the first step in any technology teacher training program. To quote the voice in the movie Field of Dreams, "Build it and they will come." 
Build a technology teacher training program addressing these issues and they will come--after-school, on weekends, during the summer, and their free time.


Finkel, L. (1990). Moving your district toward technology. The School Administrator Special Issue: Computer Technology Report, pp.35-38.
Office of Technology Assessment Report. Power On! New tools for teaching and learning. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Stock #052-003-01125-5.
Snyder, T. (January, 1995). Technology is cool, teachers are cooler. Teaching with Technology NewsFlash; #33.
Solomon, G. (October, 1990). Share the Spirit: 15 Ways to generate excitement and support for classroom technology. Instructor.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


doug0077 said...

Miguel, You were one of the real pioneers! Thanks for sharing this. I look back on some of my old posts and articles and think they may have been better than more current writings! Let's not let them fade into the mists of time... Doug

Miguel Guhlin (@mGuhlin) said...

Aw, shucks,Doug. Thanks for your remarks. I look back at all your stuff and think, "Wow!" Sometimes, I wonder where the fire went, the righteous indignation, the passion. Then, I realize it hasn't gone anywhere, just become a little wiser, subversive , and impish.

The Courage to Lead