Thursday, December 20, 2007

More Professional Development reading....

Because many factors are affecting the teaching and learning process nowdays, teachers must rethink their own practice, to construct new classroom roles and expectations about student outcomes, and to teach in ways they have never taught before - and probably never experienced as students.

Professional development must extend beyond mere support for teachers' acquisition of new skills or knowledge. Professional development today also means providing occasions for teachers to reflect critically on their practice and to fashion new knowledge and beliefs about content, pedagogy, and learners as pointed out by (Ibid & Richard Prawat, 1992).

Some of the important characteristics of the Professional development plan that have been highlighted in the literature (Hammond and McLaughlin, 1995) are:

* It must engage teachers in concrete tasks of teaching, assessment, observation, and reflection that illuminate the processes of learning and development.

* It must be grounded in inquiry, reflection, and experimentation that are participant-driven.

* It must be collaborative, involving a sharing of knowledge among educators and a focus on teachers' communities of practice rather than on individual teachers.

* It must be connected to and derived from teachers' work with their students.

* It must be sustained, ongoing, intensive, and supported by modeling, coaching, and the collective solving of specific problems of practice.

* It must be connected to other aspects of school change.

Darling-Hammond, L., and McLaughlin, M.W., "Policies That Support Professional Development in an Era of Reform," Phi Delta Kappan, 1995. Reprint by MiddleWeb.

Ibid.; and Richard Prawat, "Teachers' Beliefs About Teaching and Learning: A Constructivist Perspective," American Journal of Education, vol. 100, 1992, pp. 354-95.

Please feel free to contribute to any of the posted articles..

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Students as Digital Natives

Today is Eid Aldha holiday here in the UAE. We have couple of days break from the college. even though it is a holiday, I decided I need to catch up on some reading for my course.

I started reading the article on Digital Native, Digital immigrants by Marck Prensky. The contents of the article was not something new to me as I have read several papers recently on the characteristics of the Net Geners and how each generations process information little bit different from the other.

The big question that this paper tried to address is how can we cater for our Digital native students with our existing digital immigrants teachers. There are two main points that need to be addressed to keep our students engaged and interested in the learning process.

1. First, we need to change our method of content delivery. Step by step and spoon feeding does not satisfy the current net generation students. We have to be creative and invent new methodology that fits all subjects at all levels to keep our digital native students engaged in classrooms

2. Second, we need to assess and validate our Curriculum. What was important fifty years ago is not important at our days? Ethics, sociology, politics, and languages are contents that are important to our current net generation students.

It is a big gap between digital native students and the digital immigrant teachers. To narrow the gap everyone must work hard; teachers, students, administrators, school and local governments. ….

Till my next reading..

Prensky, M. (2002). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, retrieved on 23
Sept, 2005 from

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another reading on Professional Developpment

Exploring ICT Professional Development

An effective Professional development plan for teachers is the key to successfully integrating ICT into curriculum as discussion posting indicates (USQ….). According to Joyce and Showers (1983) staff development can make a powerful difference in performance of both teachers and students.

Professional development plan for schools and colleges are being updated to take into consideration not only acquiring ICT skills but also changes in specific teaching strategies and beliefs as well Hunt (1971).

MeKenzie (1991) indicate that to create staff development for the information age, the following elements must be considered : Staff development must offer immersion and transformation; must inspire teachers to invent; must be experienced based; must hook the curiosity , wonder or passion of teachers; must respond to teachers concerns and interest; must be consider the feelings, fears, and anxiety of the learners; must be engaging; must be catered for learners development stages; and must be properly supported and funded.

Providing proper Staff development is more important now than ever before as the role of teachers and educators is shifting to meet the new era of information age.

I believe we are seeing some improvements in that aspect. Many places have already shifted the funding from infrastructure to Staff development. Research tells that 10-25% of ICT budget should be spent on staff development. At our college we are spending 20% of our budget on Staff development. We are moving in the right direction

Joyce, B. and Showers, B. Power in staff development through research in training. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD, 1983.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Technology as a learning tool

The chapter I read today is very interesting one as the author tries to compare between three generations of learners. The author starts by stating some of the ways that today’s net Geners learn and how the education culture must change to cater for the new learning paradigm. Here are some highlighted points:

1. They learn by doing. I teach at a college where all students have tablets PCs. Sometime when I try to explain how to do certain things on the computer, many of them won’t listen. They immediately start to figure out themselves how to do things. They like to discover things on their own. Give them a book to learn from is a waste of time. Never buy a computer book anymore; students will use the online help to figure out things by trial and errors instead of reading instructions or manuals. Students like hands-on, experimental and interactive activities. Faculty must adjust their teaching styles to accommodate these types of learners in their classrooms or they will lose them.

2. Human Interaction. With all the existing technologies, the net geners still prefer to interact with their teachers and follow students in classrooms. They like to work in groups and help each others. So many times happened in my classes that when student is asking a question, immediately another student will get up and walk toward the person who is asking the question and try to help. Initially, I thought that it could be a cultural phenomenal but after reading this article I agree with the author that it is not. Learning though social interaction and getting feedback from teachers still an important to the Net Generation learners of today.

3. Cut-and-Past culture. Technology is everywhere. At home, at school, and at work. The learners of today have the tools to access information at all time. As research shows, cheating on the rise at universities. The net geners learn to work and help each other as part of the team work skill set they learn in schools, the author states that the current definition of cheating is changing and how students is assessed is changing as well.

What do Net Generation learners want from Technology?

As more technology is used in classrooms, students are going to ask for it to be used and integrated with their learning process in the classroom. Staff must be trained on how to use the new technology and how to integrate it in their lessons. It is very important that universities, colleges and schools support their staff in this integration process otherwise; the use of technology will become a burden on the teachers instead of helping them in teaching and learning process. Technology must always be seen as a learning tool to facilitate learning in the classrooms.


Teaching with Technology


Distance Learning Classrooms Linking Madinat Zayed and Ruwais students

The guiding principle in creating distance learning classrooms (DLC) at Madinat Zayed and Ruwais colleges was to provide a consistent and accessible learning environment to students in various parts of the Western Region. It was also a requirement for DLC to support a variety of established pedagogical needs, as well as to provide a flexible format to encourage experimental approaches to teaching and learning. To this aim, three distance learning classrooms were installed at Madinat Zayed campus and another at Ruwais campus.

In the last month, we were happy to begin conducting classes at the Ruwais Campus. With the same number of teachers that had previously been at one location, Madinat Zayed, it was necessary to immediately begin taking full advantage of the DL classrooms. Distance learning classrooms are being used to teach foundation, Diploma and Higher Diploma students. In some instances students are in both locations with a teacher in one and in other instances students are all in one location with the teacher in the other. Management meetings with staff at both campuses have also taken place, as well as joint professional development sessions for staff at both locations.

To maximize the use of the technology and equipment, it was necessary to provide a variety of options for users while not complicating the system; that is, to enhance ease of use by staff with varying levels of technology experience. The current video conference system (complete with all the necessary display, audio, and presentation system capabilities) utilizes a touch screen control panel as the only input variable required of users. The classrooms appear to have a complex array of equipment, and they do, but all are controlled by one touch-pad device. Aside from the expected desks and chairs, the equipment in DL classrooms include web cameras, track-view mats (from which cameras follow the presenter), as well remote-control devices which allow students to direct cameras to them. Additional equipment includes interactive boards, projectors, and an LCD display panel that offer many possible combinations for interactions to take place on both ends. For example, aside from the live feed, DL classrooms can be used transmit live video, recorded medium, as well as projecting documents (including hard copies of student homework) via a scanner across the distances.

Fully-utilized distance learning classrooms are providing a bridge for students and staff at two campuses across the Western Region. The resources invested in setting up the DL classrooms, is not merely filling the gap of teacher shortage, but creating state-of-the-art opportunities for teaching and learning. The limits are yet to be discovered. For example, the pioneering work with the DLC’s is putting the HCT Western Region colleges into a great position from which to springboard to the next phase of development. Discussion is already underway for the possibility of outreach centers in some of the region’s more remote locations. The HCT already leads the way in providing tertiary level education in the western region, and the utilization of the DLCs will help maintain this position.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Some Characteristics of successful PD plan

I have just finished reading a very interesting paper on what are the key characteristics of a successful PD plan...

key points for success:

Planned and supported by everyone in the college; especially management, teachers and staff.

Oriented toward as specific task, focusing on actual uses of technology to enhance teaching and learning and addresses staff IT needs.

Given enough time to allow for teachers to learn, practice, and apply new concepts and techniques.

Offered to staff members who have access to hardware and software they can practice with in their classrooms or offices during class training and after hours.

Sensitive to staff members’ personal needs and schedules, offering rewards, and release time.

Appropriate to staff members’ current attitudes and expertise.

Flexible in allowing teachers to use what they learn in a variety of ways appropriate to their individual situations.

Supported at every level at the college hierarchy with adequate, ongoing staff and time for person-to-person and small-group instruction.

Accepted throughout the college community as an ongoing activity, not a single event.

Continuously visited, evaluated and improved.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Professional Development for ICT …

Professional Development for staff in my college is a task I am deeply involved in as I am the PD coordinator. It is taking so much time and effort to come up with a plan that matches the skill requirement of our staff and aligned with our ICT mission. Calculating the number of hours that have been allocated for PDs this year I can add up 96 hours. It is a lot of hours that we have allocated for ICT PDs. But are we seeing any widespread adoption of technology for teaching and learning? Not really!

Here is some of the common issues I always here from almost every teacher…

Time. We don’t have time… we are teaching 20 hrs. I am too busy..

Time for staff development must be included in their timetable or provided outside of the school day. Staff must have the time to share ideas and reflect of what they have learned.

Training. Provide continuous training throughout the semester with follow up sessions with practical examples.

Teachers see the relevance of technology to what they do in the classroom; they are more likely to incorporate it into their instructional strategies.

Technology. A common complaint among teachers who attend training is that they don’t have the proper equipment/software in their classroom. Training becomes more valuable when participants know they will be able to use it immediately.

Support. Another common complain among teachers that technology does not work. Just-in time support must be provided all the time during and after classroom hours.

I hope to hear from anyone on Professional Development..

I am planning to create a wiki page on Knowledge Garden that incorporates everything about professional development.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Managing laptop environment ....First year college students..

I agree that laptops in classrooms have many advantages...they contribute to the overall improvement of the learning process of the students. Bringing learning to life, In-class group projects, increased collaboration, improved teaching style, Improve technology competency are just some the of the benefits of laptops in classroom ..... But what I would like to stress in this blog are some of the challenges teachers face with at the college and how our college addressing and dealing with those challenges.

The Challenges are:

1.Students Surfing the web in class poses the biggest challenge to using laptops in classrooms claims teachers.

2. Teachers are frustrated by technical difficulties in laptop classrooms during and after the class.

3. As teachers start to use the laptop in class, fighting for students’ attention becomes a big issue.

4. The suitability of curriculum is another challenge that teachers face in a laptop environment.

5. When technology is involved, anything can go wrong. When laptops are in the hand of students, many technical problems can be encountered. ...

Proposed solution

A proper Support System is the key to address the majority of those challenges and issues that teachers face in a laptop environment. The main components of the support system are:

4.1. Training is the key to success

a. Technical skills for teachers

Technical training for staff must take place well in advance of the implementation stage of the laptop environment. Encountering technical problems with laptops is a daily concerns for teachers. Therefore, teachers must be able to address those technical issues either by solving them or by referring them to the technical support team. Teachers’ anecdotes indicate that this issue is a major problem for them at our college.

b. Blending the Laptop into the Lecture

Getting a laptop to function as a good teaching assistant requires a teacher to be curriculum integration expert. For teachers to change their learning styles and incorporate technology into their lecture notes, they must have time, confidence, motivation, proper training well in advance and the incentive to do it. Teachers must make sure that their lecture notes are available online so that students can have access to them at anytime from anywhere.

4.2. Class Management

Surfing the web in class is the biggest challenge to using laptops in our college. Institutions use different approaches to overcome this problem. We found that software like “Net Op School”, “Net Support School” and “SynchronEyes” allow teachers to effectively control what students are doing with their laptops.

4.3 IT Technical Support

The difficulty with laptops is that they are not as solid and dependable as desktop PC. Staff and students at our college are getting frustrated by “glitches” such as frozen screens, broken latches, and damaged screens. Some students are missing many days of participation in class while their laptops are being repaired.

A solid IT support system must be in place to repair those laptops immediately. A proper infrastructure support must also be available all the time. Therefore dependability on having the network available 24/7 is vital to the success of the laptop initiative. However as mentioned above; software controlling students access would make classroom management more effective than unregulated access.

Are we there yet?

Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Technology ….The Paths are Just Beginning to Branch Out

Many institutions in the Middle East have access to some of the best available IT infrastructure. There are also excellent support teams and great training opportunities for staff to integrate technology in the curriculum to enhance their courses. Taking a look at faculty engagement in using technology in their teaching and delivery strategies, we find that there is yet a broad range of applications never utilized. We are using the computer to send and receive emails, using word processing to write lessons, using excel sheet to enter attendance, and searching the internet. However, the number of faculty making use of the wide range of available technology to enhance their teaching and learning is still relatively low.

What needs to be done to see signs of improvements in teaching and learning through the use of technology? Must we continue to build the technical infrastructure and support system of the institution? Or should we attend to staff motivation and technological skills and knowledge? Or could we become more aware of the manner in which the complicated process of integrating technology with curriculum is a hindrance to those new to technology. Maybe a combination of all these factors is at play.

One fact I am sure of is that the new generation of learners is here. Our students are increasingly demanding more use of online courses to be delivered via the internet. Addressing the new demand of the net generation, would require from us, the teachers, to review the pedagogical, psychological and technological issues confronting the seamless integration of technology into education. Addressing these issues would involve everyone-students, faculty, academic, administrators, and IT staff.

I would like to hear the point of view of teachers on

Why are some of the challenges to integrating technology in their teaching?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rethinking our approach to Teaching and Learning..

Today, I have read a very inspiring and interesting article about teaching and learning and the way technology could be used to improve both concepts. To Summaries some of the main points:

1.Transformation of societies from

industrial----> Information ------->knowledge----> creative.

2. Universities, colleges and schools have implemented the best technologies available. But very little

attention has been given to improve our approach to teaching and learning.

3. Learning is not the transmission of information from the teacher to the learner; it is a process of

exploration, reflection, discussion, and experimentation. It is the process of making the idea not getting

the idea.

4.To better make use of technological advances, the author stresses theneed to:

1. Rethink how people learn

2.Rethink what people learn

3.Rethink where and when people learn

After reading this article, one important concept stuck to my mind " We Need to Change our Approach to T/L so that technology could be seamlessly integrated in classroom."

Please let me know what you think?