Current practices in professional development for technology integration do not focus on the most up to date technologies available and so lull teachers into thinking that if they are finally using Excel or the “Insert Diagram or Organizational Chart” button in Word, that they are integrating technology effectively.

This year my school’s Technology Committee had a full day of professional development where they offered sessions on Excel, PowerPoint and another program I cannot remember currently (It really made an impact on me!). Apparently some of the staff asked about Web 2.0 but at the time no one knew anything about it and so no sessions were offered. We plan to offer sessions on the “new” Word 2007 in April because it’s so new and different we need to spend a half day of precious PD on it. In the past, my division has offered after school workshops on Excel, PowerPoint, Inspiration, Webquests, web page design using Dream Weaver and Microsoft FrontPage. Only just recently have they added Blogs and Wikis, but still no one at the school level really knows these things (except me). Our “performance task” this year as a “TTT” designated school in its third year, (something our division applies to schools who are getting technology upgrades) is to create a PowerPoint presentation.

All these things combine to create a picture for me. In this picture teachers who are using Excel, PowerPoint and Word 2007 think they are integrating technology effectively in their classrooms. These are the tools that PD has been provided for, so are they the tools that define effective integration of technology in my school division? What is our definition of effective? If a teacher can create a simple PowerPoint presentation are they effectively integrating technology? How do we define “technology”? Some teachers are using overheads, does that mean they integrate technology effectively? Continuing to provide sessions on programs that will become obsolete in a world of web based applications is essentially the same as saying overhead use is effective technology integration. At what point is someone going to point out that these are not effective professional development opportunities? How can we even expect our teachers to begin the process of integrating Web 2.0 tools if the professional development offered is stuck in 1999?

Maybe this is just my own personal experience but I suspect it might be the case in many other schools and divisions. It seems to me the best PD opportunities are online and have to be pursued by motivated teachers on their own time. But if they don’t even have exposure to Web 2.0, how do they even begin to create a personal professional development plan that includes them?