Designing Professional Development/US Higher Ed
Developing a plan for professional development to address technology within a higher education environment requires an understanding of the needs of the institution as well as the individual. Addressing the deficiencies in technology and developing a plan to educate and engage professionals can advance an institution in many ways inside and outside of the traditional classroom setting. For example, even simple technologies such as email and texting, changed higher education in ways hard to imagine before personal computers and the Internet came on the scene. In order to stay relevant for students, administrators and external constituents, Higher Ed needs to stay current with information and instructional technologies. Therefore, the development of instructional materials which not only address the needed information, but provide the experience of using the tools will be beneficial to all.
Making the case for technology
A pressing need to provide faculty and administrators with on-going professional development opportunities to enable the instructors and professionals to become true educator of academic subject matter and institutional initiatives. Professional development areas should include proven instructional practices and how best to incorporate and infuse these pedagogical theories into general education courses as well as alumni and staff educational opportunities in order to enhance learning, increase engagement, retention, and success. Technology makes it possible to expand rather than shrink the socialization effect of higher education. Today's students and younger constituents are as comfortable communicating and exchanging views electronically, especially through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as they are interacting in person — perhaps even more so.
Roles and responsibilities
Information technology help higher education evolve through two different but overlapping roles defined as evolutionary and transformational. The evolutionary category of informational technology is comprised of four overlapping educational functions. It can:
- streamline administration,
- amplify and extend traditional theories, mechanisms, and resources,
- make educational events and materials available outside the original context, and/or enable experience-based learning.
The transformational category of information technology consists of two more-radical functions. It can
- renew and redefine the social environment and/or
- replace the didactic classroom experience.
Given the size and scope of both an institution and the technology plan, there is not one case study that would address all the points which would need to be addressed when developing a plan. Therefore, several technology plans have been highlighted here to address the variety and scope of technology planning in higher education.
- Purdue University
- University Of Wisconsin
- The Educational Technology Plan for New Jersey
- Southwestern College
- Monroe Community College
Replacing the traditional face-to-face or written page experience with technology, is controversial. Some opposition stems from legitimate concerns that technology cannot replace certain kinds of interaction and that it is inappropriate for certain subject matter  and audiences. Some opposition stems from a more basic antipathy to replacing labor with capital, thereby eliminating jobs. Some opposition is resistant to change for the sake of change as if it is not truly broken, it does not need to be fixed.
Professional development needs to be provided for both new as well as experienced faculty and administrators who tend to overly use lectures or traditional teaching models.
Active learning refers to a method of learning where active learner participation is encouraged through project-based exercises and activities. One unique characteristic of active learning is that the instructor acts more as a facilitator of the information rather than as a sole source of information. Active learning can be enhanced through the use of technology as a tool to explore, elaborate and exchange ideas.
According to Scott, most universities have not yet transferred over to teaching in what is known as an active mode. A mixture of active learning modes is considered to be most advantageous to learning. There are many other avenues for teaching and learning in addition to lectures and other traditional models.
By using the technology to provide the instruction about the application can lead to an educational experience on both sides of the "blackboard", as both student and teacher.
Tools to use
Tools to include, but not be limited to:
- Face to face projects
- Class exercises
- Real-world work experiences such as practicum
- Field work
- Independent study consisting of completing a research
- Long distance education
- Simulations, role play, games labs, simulators
- Information and communication technologies (ICTs)
- Web-based learning
- Social media (e.g. Facebook)
- Discussion boards
- Video conferencing, such as Skype.
These various methods need to be defined, described and utilized when presenting professional development modules. By engaging professionals in the process of definition and description identification, they will be more engaged in the process as well as implementing the change. This will enable the instructors to take ownership of the process and encourage active dialog throughout the learning process.
- Jackson, G. A. (2012). Enterprise it, e-learning, and transformation: Prospects in higher education. Educause Review Online, Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/enterprise-it-e-learning-and-transformation-prospects-higher-education
- Mundy, M. A., Kupczynski, L., Ellis, J. D., & Salgado, R. L. (2012). Setting the standard for faculty professional development in higher education. Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, 5, 1-9. Retrieved from http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/111041.pdf (Mundy, Kupczynski, Ellis & Salgado, 2012)
- Berg, Z., & Haung, Y. (2004). A model for sustainable student retention: A holistic perspective on the student dropout problem with special attention to e-learning. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu.
- education.com. (2012). Active learning definition. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/definition/active-learning/
- Scott. G. (2006). Assessing the student voice. Final Report December 2005. Retrieved from http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/higher_education/publications_resources/profiles/access_student_voice.htm.