Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just in Time Learning and Knowledge Net

At our primary school we are wanting to provide an ICT professional development model to encourage the use of our Online Learning Environment, (OLE) “Knowledgenet”. The purpose of this post is to discuss a “just-in-time” professional development model that draws on current research theory to build our teacher capabilities to utilize Knowledgenet for both administration and teaching and learning.

The Ministry of Education publication Digital Horizons: Learning Through ICT: A Strategy for Schools, (Ministry of Education, 2002) provides ways that schools can give traction to developing ICT integration through developing a school vision and action plans. This publication advocates providing “systematic opportunities to develop digital and information literacy, and enjoy using ICT creatively and critically in extending their horizons and growing as lifelong learners.”

Jamie McKenzie, ( McKenzie, 1998) advocates that the most effective way of providing systematic opportunities around the use of new technologies is to provide “just –in-time” ICT professional development. His view is that real learning takes place when the teacher has the opportunity to try new skills, with a support person and support network close at hand. The “just- in- time” learning logic provides a variety of support systems, including coaches, mentors, partners, study groups and time. “Just- in -time” learning gives teachers the opportunity to become confident in applying the ICT to their context.

McKenzie suggests that the “just-in-time” ICT professional development model has several components. Our current professional development logic around engaging teachers and students in the OLE draws on the experience of McKenzie:
• The ICT leader works with teachers to develop integrated ICT / curriculum plans to utilize the OLE
• Release time for participants to attend team (class year level) professional learning communities (Teams meet on CRT days with the ICT leader)
• Release time for micro teaching and development sessions with the ICT lead teacher as coach and mentoring (feedback and feedforward)
• The ICT leader works with selected teachers each term - this includes planning , modelling , coaching - working alongside the selected teachers in a digital classroom environment
ICT team leaders that work with the school ICT leader - to distribute the leadership and support each team
• School resourcing of the laptop lease programme to ensure access at home.

The advantages of this model include the following:
• The ICT leader working with teachers through microteaching and coaching helps to motivate each person to try new skills and tools
• The Quality Learning Circles empowers teachers to explore new and better ways of administration and teaching.
• Regular micro teaching tutorials will enable useful and immediate results.

• Observation of best practices through the digital classroom model enables teachers to grasp the impact of the OLE in other learning environments.
• Team ICT leaders provide just in time support for teachers and students learning the new technology, ensuring that help is available when it is needed.
• With the school resourcing the laptop lease for teachers, teachers are able to practice the emerging technology in the privacy of their own home – allowing them to experiment and practice without fear of others judging their efforts.

Ham, Gilmore, Kachelhoffer, Morrow, Moeau & Wenmoth, (2002) research findings into the New Zealand ICT cluster professional development indicated that most teachers supported these components of ICT professional development and the programme logic provided them with the opportunity to gain confidence in new technologies significantly shifted their practice in management and teaching programmes.

The potential disadvantages of this model are also discussed in this research. Teachers in the ICT clusters disclosed the following problems inherent in the New Zealand ICT cluster professional development model.
• The cost of staffing to release both the ICT lead teacher and the class teachers for the time and support needed out of their classrooms
• The cost of the laptop lease programme
• The time that teachers are taken out of their classrooms away from their students and the risk that the class programme will be compromised by relieving teachers.
• Keeping the equipment up to date is costly and time consuming
• The technical support and infrastructure is costly and time consuming - alongside this is the complexity of the role of the ICT leader and the pull to sort out technical problems

To conclude, the “just- in –time” ICT professional development model is a successful way to develop ICT professional learning. Adapting this model will bring about the success we need to engage our school’s teachers in the use of “Knowledgenet”, OLE . The challenge for our school continues to be resourcing the cost and infrastructure to implement this ICT professional development . “Just in Time” is an effective way to provide ICT professional growth and develop a positive learning culture, where teachers are able to try new ICT skills and apply them to both twenty first century management , teaching and learning.

Ham, V. (2008) National trends in the ICT PD school cluster programme 2004-2006 In Education Counts, Retrieved 30/08/08

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H. & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development. Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Treadwell,Mark. (2008). The conceptual age and the revolution school v. 2.0. Heatherton, Australia: HawkerBrownlow.

McKenzie Jamie. (1998) Creating Learning Cultures with Just-in-Time Support. Retrieved 30/08/08

Ministry of Education. (2002) Digital horizons: Learning through ICT: A strategy
for schools. Wellington: Learning Media Limited

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