Using Technology

respondents received professional development on using technology, but only 45% felt that it was mostly or very useful.

Technology skills have become critical, and educators’ technology skills vary widely. Professional development on technology should be tailored to address different skill and comfort levels with technology and focus on how to build users’ confidence using a few select tools. The market is flooded with technology tools, but if educators use the same set of tools and applications, they can share best practices, leverage one another’s skills, and foster a coherent approach. Having a limited number of tools also benefits students and their families, who will also have different skill and comfort levels with technology. Giving teachers, students and families fewer tools or applications to learn will help prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.

Guiding Questions

Staff confidence“Best to really focus on how to build staff confidence in using a few tools well to meet identified needs.”

  • What is the “just right” amount of technology tools and professional development that schools need to maximize remote and hybrid learning and foster a coherent approach for students and families?
  • How can professional development on technology be differentiated to support different needs?
Use these selected strategies and resources
High-leverage Strategies Aligned Resources

PD on the Learning Management System (LMS)

Fully mastering an LMS will take time, particularly for teachers with less tech experience. In addition to more formal PD, this is a great time to leverage tech-savvy teachers to help with embedded PD:

  • Pair them with tech novices in a buddy system
  • Have them lead ongoing check-ins and troubleshooting in team meetings

Use this dashboard spreadsheet for assessing online professional learning platforms to ensure that the district LMS is the best fit possible. (The Learning Accelerator)

Use or adapt these Professional Development Agendas for Google Classroom & G Suite users to support a coherent approach:

(Google Classroom Toolkit and Style Guide, New Visions for Public Schools)

PD on Instructional Technology

Two of the most important roles of technology right now are to help school communities stay connected and to help teachers keep students engaged and learning. Provide PD on the basics and get teachers to help select and master a limited number of “favorite” tools, ones that they have had success with or feel they can master.

Stanford Continuing Studies offers Essentials for Teaching Your Class Online, a free recording of a 5-part online course – taught by Stanford Online High School instructors – on the essentials of online teaching including:

  • General guidelines for adapting your course to an online format
  • Best practices for varied situations and common pitfalls in online course design
  • How to troubleshoot student issues online

This article on configuring your distance learning tech stack is based on the webinar How to Set Your Class Up for Distance Learning Success, which shows when and how to use these three types of resources effectively:

  • Existing digital classroom platforms
  • Screen video capture
  • Conference platforms

(From The Ultimate Guide to Distance Learning for Educators,’s Equip)

Encourage teachers to share user-friendly tools that support specific instructional strategies, such as Flipgrid or Screencastify, two technologies for “flipped instruction” (recorded lessons watched at asynchronous times).

Select PD that focuses specifically on pedagogy using technology such as:

PD on kid- and family-friendly technology

Educators are seeing the value in tech designed to engage specific target audiences, namely students and families. Get teachers to help select and master a limited number of “favorite” tools, ones that they have had success with or feel they can master.

Teachers are reporting the benefits of:

  • Starting off classes with fun attention-grabbing technology such as GoNoodle or Nearpod before diving into instruction or a learning activity
  • Having an easy day-to-day communication tool for dialogue with families such as Remind, a texting app that can translate.

Try these quick Google app tutorials on both practical features such as parent settings and fun, engaging features such as drawing, backgrounds, and pop-up messages: