Learning "About" vs. Learning "How"

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One of the biggest challenges in any 1:1 program is professional development strategy. Schools often struggle with maximising time in teaching teachers how to most effectively teach in a ubiquitous computing environment. PD in these situations often breaks down into two categories: "About" and "How."

When learning "About," teachers are taught the pedagogic frames of being good educators in 1:1 classrooms. They learn about curriculum design, teaching methods, classroom management, student needs and abilities, and what potential can be drawn from students using devices. Often this leads to theoretical discussions and planning that can be invaluable in professional learning communities or amongst teaching teams.

In learning "How," professional development is focused on the hard skills of technology usage from data management on the computer to applications or educational websites to communications amongst teachers, students, parents, and colleagues. These sessions often focus on discrete skills and applications of technology with less discussion about strategy and long term planning.

It is important to create a PD plan for all teachers that draws upon their strengths and their needs that aligns to this partnership of skills ("How") and competencies ("About.") They make sure each teacher is able to apply tools in the classroom and plan for the future. However, the research does show that those newest to 1:1 environments need more time in "How" to get comfortable with their own skills. If these teachers are dropped into too many "About" sessions they will be overwhelmed and discouraged. Similarly, when experienced teachers engage in 1:1 PD they find more value and engagement in the "About" sessions as many of them are skilled in enough tools and applications to pick up new skills on the fly.

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