Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Professional development and training: Context and definitions

Professional development, within the context of higher education, focuses on improvement as teachers and is more pedagogical in content and structure (Fleming, Shire, Jones, Pill and McNamee, 2004). Training is, by design, focused on software and hardware competencies (McCarthy, 2006).

It is important to remember that the development of technological literacy and competence, while important and pivotal to a technology plan, is perhaps crucial to the offering of professional development and training (Clark, 1989). The plan focuses, primarily, on the technology and technological infrastructure, and other associated topics. However global any plan is by design, it is equally as important to decide what technology will be adopted as it is to offer training to use the technology.

The plan provides support for technology (Masi and Winer, 2005), and should provide technology support on an ongoing basis. In this instance, the goal of development is to improve “performance on the part of students, staff, and the organization” (Sparks, 1995, p. 2). Regardless of the label of professional development, staff development or training, the goal should be to improve teaching and learning.

Clark, K. (1989). What strategy can do for technology. Harvard Business Review 67(6), 94-98.

Fleming, S., Shire, J., Jones, D., Pill, A., & McNamee, M. (2004). Continuing professional development: Suggestions for effective practice. Journal of Further and Higher Education 28(2), 165-177.

Masi, A., & Winer, L. (2005). A university wide vision of teaching and learning with information technologies. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 42(2), 147-155.

McCarthy, E. (2006). When teachers take staff development personally. Education Digest 71(7), 45-49.

Sparks, D. (1995). A paradigm shift in staff development. In ERIC Review: Professional development 3(3), 2-4. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No: ED381136). Retrieved March 31, 2007 from

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