September 2017
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EXTRA CATEGORY
TEACHER DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP FOR TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED LEARNING
John Allan, College of the North Atlantic Qatar, Doha, Qatar

On a day-to-day basis, some of my peers struggle with technology. Beyond administrative tasks, many instructors find that integrating technology into their instruction is frustrating. They feel that linking to basic websites and playing YouTube videos is not true integration. They feel that they could be doing more. Realizing technology integration proficiency takes time and effort, and many instructors do not have extra time after teaching, grading, and additional duties.

To enhance peer support, I designed, and developed a training workshop. The Teacher Development Workshop for Technology Enhanced Learning, TDW-TEL, is an effort to provide instructors with an incubator to experiment with technologies and share teaching strategies in a safe teaching and learning situation. The TDW-TEL was founded on the fundamentals of the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW). The ISW was created and is maintained by the ISW Network. This workshop was piloted at the University of Calgary - Qatar campus.

TDW-TEL Program Structure

The TDW-TEL is composed of 18 hours of contact time in a workshop setting. There are six 3-hour sessions. Three of the sessions are facilitator led and include lectures (technology models and tools), activities, and model mini-lessons. The other three sessions are periods for the teacher participants to contribute resources, receive feedback, and teach mini-lessons based on technologies of their choice.

In our pilot, we chose to spread the program out over 6 weeks to provide the participants ample time to reflect on the topics and the model lessons provided by the facilitators. All benefitted from the week-long interval to consider technologies and models and then create their own mini-lesson for the following session. It is not recommended to run workshops on three consecutive 6-hour days. This may lead to stressful evenings for the teacher participants preparing for the next day’s mini-lesson.

It is also recommended that a cohort consists of four teacher participants and, optimally, two facilitators. One facilitator should focus on the technology and the other can focus on the mini-lesson logistics and feedback.

Instructors attempting the TDW-TEL should have formal teacher training and experience. It is essential that they are comfortable with creating and teaching to a lesson plan. Any formal lesson plan designs can easily be substituted into the TDW-TEL workshop. We chose the BOPPPS (bridge-in, outcome, pre-assessment, participatory learning, post-assessment, summary; University of British Columbia, n.d.) format as it is familiar to most of the instructional staff at our campus. Other lesson plan formats that your staff are familiar with should be substituted for the BOPPPS model for efficiency at your institution.

Mini-Lesson Plan Format (BOPPPS)

The ISW BOPPPS lesson plan style was adopted ensure that all of the participant instructors adhered to a common lesson plan structure. Because all of our participants completed the ISW and were familiar with the BOPPPS format, only a 10-minute refresher activity was required to assure that all our lesson plans would be unified. BOPPPS is an acronym for the steps in a complete lesson plan. The elements of a BOPPPS lesson plan include:

  • Bridge-in
  • Outcome
  • Pre-assessment
  • Participatory learning
  • Post-assessment
  • Summary

More details about each of the BOPPPS sections are available at the UBC Wiki. A blank template of a BOPPPS lesson plan is available for your consideration.

Mini-Lesson Feedback Sheets

Questions on the mini-lesson feedback sheets depend on the session’s topics, for example the Session 1 mini-lesson feedback sheet, includes Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy prompts. The feedback form for the first mini-lesson incorporated questions on this topics, adherence to the BOPPPS, and language teaching considerations. These feedback forms are a guideline for those who chose to use them. They can be altered to suit your cohort’s requirements.

Mini-Lesson Cycle

Participants teach three mini-lessons during the TDW-TEL. Each lesson follows the ISW mini-lesson format. After the lesson, the workshop facilitator meets with the participants in a closed room to discuss the lesson based on the feedback form. This is followed by a group feedback session with all participants sharing their impressions of technology integration into the mini-lesson.

  • Preparation (5 minutes)
  • Mini-lesson (15 minutes)
  • Individual mini-lesson feedback (10 minutes)
  • Group mini-lesson feedback (10 minutes)

Language Teaching Considerations

Because all involved are instructing in an English as a foreign language (EFL) situation, EFL issues are considered throughout the TDW-TEL. Mini-lesson feedback incorporates at least one aspect of language learning to considered and discussed. Topics include language support features, comprehension enhancements through inputs (audio, closed captioning, images, video, interactivity, feedback), resource customization options, and the potential for constructivist activities.

Technology Instructional Topics

Eight technology topics are included in the TDW-TEL. Each of the technology topics are delivered in 15-minute portions. In this limited period, an overview of each concept with a few examples can be shared. After the topic explanations, the participants choose one of the topics and integrate it into their mini-lesson the following session. This brief overview is not optimal, but we feel that short exposure to these concepts is better than none at all.

The participants have the freedom to consider each topic and choose the one that they can use to experiment with in their own instruction. After reading the following list, I am sure some of you will be able to identify topics that would better suit your institution’s requirements. You can also create a short introduction to and demonstration for a topic and integrate it with those listed below. You should expect to sort and restack items when adapting training for your situation.

The technology topics are:

  1. An education technology overview: Introduce current trends in education technology. Flipped learning, blended learning, BYOT, responsive design, and open educational resources are included in this topic.
  1. BYOT: Discuss BYOTas a means of enhancing learning in addition to how to limit it as a student distraction. Provide examples of appropriate BYOT classroom practices.
  1. The SAMR model: Introduce SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) to the participants. This model prompts instructors to craft more innovative and communicative technology projects/tasks when integrating technology into their courses.

  2. Bloom’s Taxonomies: It is assumed that certified teachers are aware of Bloom’s Taxonomy for the cognitive domain, which displays a hierarchy of thinking from remembering to evaluating. Introduce Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy to complement Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy with contemporary technology in the classroom.

  3. Teacher-created materials: Consider authoring learning objects from the teacher’s perspective. Demonstrate examples of online tools used to create learning objects. Examples include EdPuzzle, Quizlet, and TedEd lessons.
  1. Gamification: Gamification is characterized by competition, exploration, rewards, interaction, and collaboration. Introduce and discuss gamification’s potential for enhancing the learning experience. Present examples across a continuum, including Kahoot and Classcraft.

  2. Social Media: Introduce social media as a means of promoting collaboration, creativity, and communication (to the horror of some teachers). Twitter chat and Fakebook are two of the examples shown in this session.

  3. Padagogy Wheel: A synthesis of education technology focusing on the Padagogy Wheel (version 5.0). This incorporates digital apps, Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, and SAMR in one model.

Resource Awareness

Participants are provided with potential resources for technology integration. During the workshop sessions, any technology tools and web links mentioned are recorded and added to the resource list for the session. Discussions are casual and usually related to the instructors’ experience or desire to use a particular resource. This is the resource sheet for Session 1 of our recent cohort. This Symbaloo web mix was compiled from resources discussed and tried in the first pilot of the TDW-TEL.

Lessons Learned

There were many lessons learned when attempting to run workshops that encourage innovation, discovery, and sharing. It should be expected that the cohort celebrates failure as we can all learn from mistakes or lessons gone awry. Support the participants by establishing a professional and friendly relationship with information technology support at the workshop venue. Support also includes pretesting a wide scope of technologies, including the Wi-Fi, devices, projectors, digital boards, resources websites, digital pointers, visual presenter, connections on the teacher podium, and potential apps to be used during the TDW-TEL.

We learned that a very important issue that can make or break technology workshops is awareness of your audience. An online survey or, better yet, face-to-face interviews can reveal the expectations of the participants and their current skills and motivations for attempting the TDW-TEL. Also, a concise and accurate brief describing the workshop is important for the participants to determine if the workshop is going to be useful for their professional goals.

At the end of each session, we collected written feedback and discussed this feedback at the onset of each succeeding session. We also noted obstacles that we encountered on a sheet of chart paper. Each issue was addressed and discussed with the cohort throughout the workshop. We also used online surveying tools to learn more about the pacing, level, and engagement of the workshops.

Moving Forward

We have completed our first pilot of the TDW-TEL for instructors currently teaching in an EFL environment. Alterations to the materials are being considered based on our experience and participant feedback. Depending on the venue, there will always be surprises with networks, hardware connections, and devices. As educators, we simply stay calm, solve or adjust our lesson to circumvent the problem, and move forward with the lesson.

The TDW-TEL resources have be posted on SlideShare. If you use any of these materials, we would appreciate your comments and any ideas for improvement.

Reference

University of British Columbia. (n.d.). Mini-lessons basics/BOPPPS model for planning lessons (teaching and learning). UBC Wiki. Retrieved from http://wiki.ubc.ca/Mini-Lessons_Basics/BOPPPS_Model_for_Planning_Lessons_(Teaching_and_Learning)


John Allan is an English language instructor and an education technology specialist currently working in a technical college in Qatar. He is also an edtech presenter, writer, and blogger.

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