This Digistory focuses on the professional development of teachers and draws upon case studies from schools in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania
Teacher professional development was found to be a common theme across the schools in the effective integration of ICTs across the curriculum. This pattern is reflected in the wider research literature which confirms that a significant factor in technology adoption and integration is professional development (for example see: Commonwealth Department of Education Science and Training, 2001; Department of Education Science and Training, 2002; Downes et al., 2001; Lloyd & Cochrane, 2005; McRae, Ainsworth, Groves, Rowland, & Zbar, 2001).
Not only did the schools featured in this digistory indicate that professional development was pivotal but those which appeared to be most successful were characterised as professional learning communities. Although each case was unique, the teachers worked with each other over a sustained period of time, sharing resources and experiences, supporting each other emotionally and in practice as well as providing critical reflection and a common enterprise. The value of this approach is highlighted by the literature which indicates that sustained, collaborative, situated and reflective experiences are more likely to engender change in practices and thinking leading to the integration of ICT in more effective ways (Hawkes & Romiszowski, 2001; Hawley & Valli, 1999; Henderson, 2007; Kenny, 2003; Vance & McKinnon, 2002).
Sustained, collaborative, situated and reflective experiences are more likely to engender change in practices”
The American National Staff Development Council (2001) pointed out that a “learning community … encourages collaboration and shared inquiry, providing the necessary resources, and ensuring strong leadership to sustain the efforts” (p. 5). Their value is further highlighted by Lloyd and Cochrane (2005) large Queensland survey which indicated that professional learning communities had the greatest overall impact, including sustained impact, when compared with such models as face-to-face, multiple session, and online projects.
This digistory draws on the data from three schools to highlight key issues in what has been reported as successful professional learning. As an overarching theme these schools have been characterised as having different forms of professional learning communities.
Follow the links to explore each school’s story:
"You're Not On Your Own"
At St Pius X School they have a professional learning community called the “e-Learning team”. This team was identified as being a driving force for sustained innovation with measurable improvement in learning outcomes. Through sharing their problems, goals and solutions the teachers enhanced their own curriculum rather than all doing the same thing.
It becomes as a very professional way of learning, and you’re learning from your peers on staff and you’re able to trial things that people are doing ... you’re finding the pros and cons of different things and you’re doing it together, so you’re not on your own, and I think because we’re a team, it’s working really well that way. (e-Learning coordinator, St Pius X School)