We’ve been talking about the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) publication entitled Empowering Teachers: A Professional and Collaborative Approach (2008). In this posting, I want to return to that document one more time to take a look at the specific recommendations that SETDA makes and to think about how those recommendations apply to assistive technology professional development and training activities. Here are the recommendations as they are applied to the overall integration of technology in education.
- Make sustainable professional development available to all teachers.
- Provide new teachers with integrated pedagogy.
- Ensure administrators have access to training and support.
- Conduct research investigating the efficacy of comprehensive professional development models.
I think the SEDTA Recommendations may also have a great deal of value as we look integration of instructional and assistive technology for our students with disabilities. Right now, I’d like to look at the first recommendation.
Recommendation #1: Make sustainable professional development available to all teachers.
I think that the key word here is sustainable. While hands-on, in-person training will always have a role in professional development about assistive technology, it must be augmented with opportunities for teachers to get their questions answered after the content is presented directly and to be supported by experienced mentors and coaches. We have so many new opportunities for just in time and personalized training. Here are some of my favorite examples:
- Assistive Technology Industry Association - http://www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3628: This series offers many webinars on topics of interest in the field of assistive technology . There is a small fee for participating in the webinars. The fee allows access to the webinar, archive and materials provided by the presenters.
- Atomic Learning- http://atomiclearning.com/k12/en/home: Atomic Learning is a subscription service that offers tutorials for most of the most commonly used assistive technology software applications and some assistive technology devices as well as most of the commonly used productivity software applications for educational settings. The company offers free training webinars about AT integration and support as well as a program to help educators develop 21st century skills.
- High Incidence Assistive Technology Program (HIAT), Montgomery County Schools - http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/hiat/tech_quick_guides/index.shtm: Technology Quick Guides and Video Tutorials created by HIAT are available for anyone to watch online or download.
- National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials - http://aim.cast.org/experience: This site has the most current information about AIM and offers many tools that are helpful to teachers who are having their first experience with digital text readers and other specialized formats.
- QIAT Electronic List- www.qiat.org : QIAT is an online learning community that provides AT Specialists and teachers across the nation and in several other countries with the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, share knowledge,best practices, and learn new technology integration strategies.
- SET-BC Learning Center- http://www.setbc.org/lcindexer : the SET-BC Learning Center has a wonderful collection of resources about various devices and software applications including curricular applications and strategies for working with individuals with a variety of disabilities.
What do you think? What are your sustainable and innovative strategies for offering professional development? What are your favorite just in time resources? This is a list that could certainly grow if we use our professional learning community resources!