A very significant part of Educational Technology Leadership is devoted to professional development, new systems implementation, and the long term planning of support.
Every year as the semester starts-up, administrators around the world are planning for professional development (PD). There is pressure during those initial weeks to try and rapidly develop the faculty within new areas, to help everyone review all current requirements, and to re-train in areas of concern. Many of these areas rely highly, or solely, upon technology; technology is often the center of the professional development process.
Year after year, group after group, and plan after plan, results tend to be the same. There is never enough time to meet everyone’s agenda, teachers feel rushed, and confidence among many is low but silenced. So why do organizations follow this same pattern?
After many years of asking this question, and proposing options, the answers seem to come down to:
- This is the only fair way to expose EVERYONE to EVERYTHING.
- The goal is not mastery; the goal is introduction; mastery comes later.
- Large groups working together help to create future support groups; the process is team building.
- Support and resources for PD are easier to manager in mass; the first week or two of the new year shift support to critical needs.
Everyone is 100% and 100% is Wrong
The Pareto principle (80/20) is taught in economics, business, marketing, etc., because when tested, it tests true.
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Pareto_principle)
- 20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue
- 20% of the software bugs cause 80% of the crashes
- 20% of the features cause 80% of the usage
- 20% of users create 80% of the technology support tickets.
80/20 is often seen as a negative metric, when in fact, is a great opportunity to improve PD outcomes.
Following the 80/20 rule, any given PD item needs to be mastered by only 20% of the organization in order for the entire organization to benefit.
Since 2008, I have been working with groups of new hires. There is much stress and confusion when people are relocating to another country. I always try and provide the information new hires need to understand the technology culture at the school, and within the country.
Initially, I was simply doing Q and A, and creating FAQ documents. One year, I realized that I was missing a huge opportunity to do some data driven decision making. I began to develop a set of surveys.
Survey data helps to shape the professional development for orientation and possible configurations for IT systems. Additionally, the data aids in the team building process by identifying new people with higher level skills. These people can then immediately contribute at the level they should be contributing instead of being sidelined because they are new.
Meet Them Where They Are
Many schools are hesitant to do surveys because new hires have a tremendous amount of paperwork to complete. Schools often do not want to add any additional communication to an already very busy process.
I do understand this view point, however, new hires will not be overwhelmed if a technology survey is incorporated into an already required technology process.
In the spring, I recommend all schools setup and activate the email accounts for the new hires. The moment they sign in the first time, they are a captive audience. The first email they see in their inbox could be the technology survey. New hires usually like getting their new account in the spring, so they will not be irritated at the process.
If the school has setup social media for new hires, such as a Facebook Group, those accounts can also be used to share links to surveys.
Next week, I will be taking part in a Google Apps for Education training event. The target training group- school administrators.
So I decided to warm-up, and get a feel for the content and the delivery. I thought, “who is the toughest audience to win over?”. I decided if I could impress and win over a really tough audience or individual participant, then I could declare my training strategy a success.
So, I conducted the beta-training, and then asked the single participant to give me some feedback on some of the key concepts and themes. Here is what he said:
Obviously, there is some fine-tuning to do. I am confident I can workout the problems before this project is out of beta and into the classroom. Grumpy Cat is a “tough crowd”,
I actually thought it would be worse.
“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 🙂