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Abstract -- Training is for Dogs: Teachers Teach; Teachers Learn
D8: Professional Development and Training
Training is for Dogs: Teachers Teach; Teachers Learn
- Murray, Janet
A popular cartoon promises that "On the Internet, no one
knows you're a dog." Neverthless, few Internet users want to be
_treated_ like a dog, and training is for dogs. This paper
will summarize how educational practitioners think they can best
learn to use the Internet, and propose a model for instruction
which supports the educational reform movement by demonstrating
the power of collaborative learning through telecommunications.
Planning for the global information infrastructure more
frequently focuses on gigabit hardware and high speed bandwidth
than on the human components necessary to make it worthwhile.
In order for technology to be broadly integrated into K-12 instruction,
teachers must see its relevance to their curriculum and learn to use
Teachers are adamant that training should be conducted by other
teachers rather than technicians, and that those teachers who are
selected as mentors should be proven, effective instructors who are
willing to provide ongoing support after the training session(s).
The word "mentor" was not chosen casually; ideal mentors have very specific
characteristics, abilities and personality traits:
Workshops should be designed based on assessment of a school's
local needs and resources and offered in blocks of uninterrupted
time, either in several daylong sessions or half-day
sessions over the course of a week. It is imperative that
instructor/teacher and computer/teacher ratios are small enough to
allow hands-on learning, although a pair of teachers on a single
computer may aid learning by facilitating mutual coaching and
reinforcement. It is vitally important that teachers learn on systems
comparable to the ones they will be using. This may require individual
outreach as a followup to the workshop to insure that the teacher's system
is properly configured and operational. The best workshops will also model
the methodology of collaborative instruction by engaging the participants
in an inquiry-based project pertinent to their content area.
- They should be peers of those they are training, i.e.
classroom teachers or building library/media
- They should be effective teachers, capable of
"translating" technical information into language which
can be readily understood by novices.
- They should be patient tutors able to provide over-
the-shoulder training without succumbing to the
temptation to take over the keyboard.
- They should be available for followup questions, and
promptly responsive to those questions.
Teachers know that a workshop or training session in isolation
will not result in permanent change; they must have the opportunity
to use the skills they have learned, and readily available
resources to answer the questions that will inevitably arise after
the training session is over. Although online discussion will provide
one of the most important elements of ongoing support, instructors
should be prepared to provide assistance by phone and fax as well.
In a national project conducted by the Federation of American
Research Networks and the Consortium for School Networking (1994),
participants concluded that,
the most successful training for educators involves
direct, hands-on experience with relevant examples and
real products made by others in education. . . . User
support must be reliably and consistently available. .
. . Staff who train and support educators must have
some K-12 background . . . The need to train
experienced practitioners who are already in the
schools is of major importance.
Similarly, the Internet School Networking Group of the Internet
Engineering Task Force advises that,
Any plan for implementing technology in schools must
consider staff development. Training is often the most
neglected aspect of a technology plan, and a lack of
training can lead to failure of the plan. (1994)
As demand for Internet access and services in schools increases,
the need for qualified mentors will continue to escalate. Learning
models which encourage self-directed learning in a collaborative
environment mirror the cooperative spirit of inquiry which has
historically fueled the growth of the Internet at the same time
that they further the goals of the educational reform movement.
"Building Consensus/Building Models: A Networking Strategy for
Change." Federation of American Research Networks, Inc.
Consortium for School Networking. March, 1994.
Sellers, Jennifer. "Answers to Commonly Asked 'Primary and
Secondary School Internet User Questions." IETF School
Networking Group. Internet FYI RFC1578. February, 1994.