Contributed by:
Sharp Tutor
To be effective and successful, teacher professional development must be of high quality and relevant to teachers’ needs. No amount of ICT can compensate for TPD that lacks these characteristics.
■ What are the needs of teachers in our country,
and how will teacher professional development ■ Understanding Professional Development
■ Professional Development vs. Training
(TPD) address these needs? ■ Making TPD Effective
■ Which of the three models of TPD are most ■ Building Teachers’ Computers Skills
■ Successful Approaches to Computers in TPD
appropriate to the needs of our teachers? ■ What is Technology Integration?
■ Which models are currently being used in our ■ Learner-centered TPD
■ Professional Development Models
schools? ■ The Cascade Model
■ How can ICTs improve and extend current or ■ Strengthening the Cascade Approach in Tajikistan
projected TPD efforts? ■ Addressing Women in TPD
■ Site-based TPD
■ Self-directed TPD

SUMMARY Web Resources
To be effective and successful, teacher professional
development must be of high quality and relevant
to teachers’ needs. No amount of ICT can compensate for TPD that lacks these characteristics.
TPD is the tool by which policymakers convey broad visions, disseminate critical information, and provide
guidance to teachers. Effective TPD begins with an understanding of teachers’ needs and their work
environments—schools and classrooms. TPD then combines a range of techniques to promote learning;
provides teachers with the support they need; engages school leadership; and makes use of evaluation to
increase its impact. Essential techniques include mentoring, teamwork, observation, reflection and assess-
ment. TPD programs should engage teachers as learners—typically involving the process of “modeling.”2
When computers are involved, TPD programs must address not only teachers’ technical skills, but also their
concerns about logistics, about how to use computers with students, and about risks to their status in the
classroom. Successful computer-supported or computer-focused TPD provides teachers with hands-on
opportunities to build technical skills and work in teams while engaging them in activities that have
substantial bearing on their classroom practices or on other aspects of the school workplace.
TPD can be divided into three broad categories:
■ Standardized TPD
The most centralized approach, best used to disseminate information and skills among large teacher
2 Modeling is an instructional method in which teachers experience the kinds of learning that they are expected to implement in the classroom. Design of TPD
might, for example, have teachers working in pairs or teams to help build their understanding of collaborative learning.
Section 3. Models and Best Practices in Teacher Professional Development . 15
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2. ■ Site-based TPD
Intensive learning by groups of teachers in a CHARACTERISTICS OF
school or region, promoting profound and EFFECTIVE TPD
long-term changes in instructional methods
Highly applied, practice-oriented, participatory, and iterative:
■ Self-directed TPD TPD is often a process of step-by-step familiarization/mastery
Independent learning, sometimes initiated at via “learning by struggling”, and TPD initiatives are too often
the learner’s discretion, using available re- designed to be “one-size-fits-all”, uni-modal (i.e., lecture-based),
and overly theoretical, such that teachers never obtain a work-
sources that may include computers and the ing knowledge or practice new content/techniques.
Chris Spohr
Social Sector Economist, Asian Development Bank
Standardized TPD includes the Cascade model, Resident Mission in the People’s Republic of China
frequently used in TPD programs that involve
ICTs. In the Cascade model, one or two “cham-
pion” teachers at a school might attend centralized
workshops to build computers skills or learn about integrating computers into teaching and learning. When
they return to their schools, these champion teachers provide TPD to their colleagues that also builds
computer use and integration skills.
Different approaches to TPD can complement each other, and can be implemented in a variety of forms,
enabling TPD programs to grow to reach large numbers of teachers while supporting teachers in their efforts
to improve student learning. However, site-based TPD, since it addresses locally based needs and reflects local
conditions, should be the cornerstone of teacher development across the education system.
Teachers need a wide variety of ongoing opportunities to improve their skills. TPD (also known as “in
service” or “teacher education”) is the instruction provided to teachers to promote their development in a
certain area (e.g., technology, reading instruction, subject mastery, etc.). TPD is the tool by which policy-
makers’ visions for change are disseminated and conveyed to teachers. Though the recipient of TPD is the
teacher, the ultimate intended beneficiary is the student. Consequently, professional development is often the
most critical component of any ICT project.
Professional Development vs. Training
Professional development is much more than training, though technology training may be one part of TPD.
Professional development—including the ongoing workshops, follow-up, study, reflections, observations
and assessment that comprise TPD—accommodates teachers as learners, recognizes the long-term nature of
learning, and utilizes methods that are likely to lead teachers to improve their practice as professionals.
Professional development takes many forms, such as: when teachers plan activities together; when a master
teacher observes a young teacher and provides feedback; and when a team of teachers observes a video lesson
and reflects on and discusses the lesson. These methods of TPD are all more effective models of teacher
learning than simple training.
Making TPD Effective
Effective TPD addresses the core areas of teaching—content, curriculum, assessment and instruction.
Regardless of whether ICTs are involved, all TPD projects should:
■ Address teacher and student needs via approaches that are appropriate for conditions in schools
■ Be long-term, ongoing, sequenced, and cumulative, providing teachers opportunities to gain new
knowledge and skills, reflect on changes in their teaching practice, and increase their abilities over time
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3. ■ Focus on student learning outcomes in ways that enable teachers to use their new knowledge and skills
■ Model learner-centered instruction so that teachers experience and reflect on the learning activities that
they will lead
■ Use formative and summative evaluation for program improvement
Many computer-supported TPD projects focus on technical concerns, to the exclusion of all others.
Underlying these projects is the assumption that learning how to use computers equals knowing how to teach
with computers.
Some degree of technical knowledge is necessary—basic keyboard and mouse skills, familiarity with the
operating system and with basic software applications. However, computers are not designed to be used as
instructional tools and most teachers need suggestions on how to use them with students. Without those
suggestions—and without sensitivity to the array of teachers’ concerns—improving teachers’ computer skills
is not likely to lead to students’ use of computers as tools for learning.
Computers raise many concerns among teachers, including:
■ Technical concerns (“How do I use the computer?”)
■ Functional concerns (“What can computers help me do?”)
■ Logistical concerns (“How can I use so few computers with so many students?”)
■ Affective concerns (“Will these computers replace me as a teacher? Will my students lose respect if they
think the computer knows more than me?”)
■ Organizational concerns (“How do I organize my classroom to support the use of computers? How can
they be used as part of what I already do in the
■ Conceptual concerns (“How can I learn from
and with computers?”)
■ Instructional concerns (“How can computers
help my students learn in different ways? How Any proposal that starts out by “teaching people to use comput-
can they support the curriculum? How can ers” is a dead end. What can it do for me now? How can it
they support my teaching? How should I teach reduce my costs for doing things that I do already? How does
that free up resources for other activities? How does this technol-
using computers?”) ogy enable those activities?
■ Evaluation concerns (“How do I assess student
Earl Mardle
learning in computer-based projects? How does Principal, KeyNet Consultancy
this new way of learning fit with national Sydney, Australia
Successful Approaches to Computers in TPD
To increase the likelihood of successful TPD when computers are being introduced, the TPD should be:
■ Timely
Teachers should learn to use computers at the point in a project when they will have access to them, not
before and not after
■ Job-related
All TPD, including computer-enabled TPD, should connect to teachers’ responsibilities, to their skills
and knowledge, or to desired classroom learning outcomes
■ Welcoming
Many adults have anxiety about learning, or about computers; initial sessions should aim to build
“computer comfort,” not high-level skills
■ Hands-on
Teachers should be asked to learn by doing, not to learn by listening
Section 3. Models and Best Practices in Teacher Professional Development . 17
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4. ■ Technically appropriate
Teachers should learn using hardware, systems, and applications that are the same as those they will use
in schools
TPD should also be appropriate to the conditions in teachers’ schools. If teachers will be using ten comput-
ers with 60 students (or one computer with 60 students), TPD sessions should reflect this reality.
These strategies—far more than technology training in a computer lab—will result in greater teacher use of
technology at the school level. Even when they feel minimally proficient with ICTs, teachers will use
computers if they feel some degree of comfort and confidence, when they know how computers can improve
what they do, and when they have access to functioning equipment and support.
At the point that computers are introduced into schools, head teachers should also receive TPD that builds
their confidence and skills. Head teachers should feel comfortable with their understanding of what teachers
are being asked to do, how students can use computers to enhance their learning, and how they too can use
computers to accomplish meaningful tasks.
Head teachers should also understand that computers are not inherently valuable. Their worth derives from
their contribution to the attainment of measurable educational goals..
Learner-centered TPD
Whether it is intended to bring teachers to basic, intermediate or advanced levels of skill—and whether
ICTs are used or not—TPD should be learner-centered, enabling teachers to experience the types of instruc-
tion that they are asked to provide to their students. Activities model instructional approaches that teachers
can apply in their own settings, and may range from facilitated discussions to working in small groups to
project-based instruction.
Within learner-centered TPD, the voices and actions of teachers themselves, not of the TPD provider,
should be the focus, and teachers should engage interactively and collaboratively in activities that reflect
their curricula. Like their students, teachers learn by doing—by collaborating with peers, reflecting,
planning classroom activities—not by sitting and listening to a facilitator or following along in directed
technology instruction.
“Technology integration” refers to the use of computers and the Internet to support teaching and learning across the curriculum. Integrated
use of technology may involve students working with computer productivity tools to complete science projects or searching the Internet to
find poetry—but it is always tied directly to student mastery of their school subjects.
Properly implemented, technology integration is the best means of building computer skills: Research in South African and Egyptian schools
indicates that students learn computer skills better when computers are used to address their own interests rather than in formal skills train-
Technology integration is not: A separate subject, a stand-alone project, a focus of study in and of itself.
Example: Students in a Computer Studies course use a word-processing program to create a newsletter. The purpose of the activity is
to build skills using the software. Students’ use of the computer is separate from their study of school subjects. They are learning about
Technology integration is: Using computers on a regular basis, for a purpose connected to math, science, social studies or language arts.
Computer use becomes a means of learning, and learning takes place through computer use.
Example: During social studies, a teacher presents students with a task—to research and communicate to the village council five strategies
for keeping local water bodies clean. Students use the computer as needed to do research (perhaps with Encarta, a CD-based encyclope-
dia) and to prepare final reports. They are learning with computers.
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5. Learner-centered TPD recognizes and addresses the constraints teachers face in their own schools. If teachers
have no access to books, TPD should help them devise strategies to develop learning materials. If teachers
have 80 students and one computer, TPD must model—not simply talk about—how teachers integrate
technology given such a constraint.
The range of models of professional development is far more diverse than standard technology-training
workshops. TPD models can be placed in three broad categories, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
■ Standardized TPD programs
Focus on rapid dissemination of specific skills and content, often via a “cascade” or “train-the-trainer”
■ School-centered TPD
Focus on longer-term change processes, usually
via locally facilitated activities that build on-site
communities of practice WHAT ARE CHARACTERISTICS OF
■ Individual or self-directed TPD GOOD TPD?
Focus on individualized, self-guided TPD with
little formal structure or support Realism. What is taught should be implemented, preferably
immediately. Conditions and resources needed for implementa-
tion should be achievable, e.g., student literacy, infrastructural
All of these TPD models can be used in very low- support. If technology support (e.g. computers) is expected to
lag training, then the program should differentiate pedagogy
resource environments. All can be supported by from technology, message from media, ends from means, so
ICT—whether this involves using radio or that teachers can start implementing the pedagogy with less
sophisticated technology or media.
television to broadcast lessons, providing on-site
videotaping of teachers and classrooms, or Dr. Margaret Chia-Watt
expanding a local community of practice through Director, Educational Development
Nanyang Polytechnic, Singapore
e-mail and the Internet.
Standardized TPD typically represents a centralized approach, involving workshops, training sessions, and in
many cases the Cascade model of scaled delivery.
Standardized models tend to rely on training-based approaches, in which presenters share skills and knowl-
edge with large groups of educators via face-to-face, broadcast, or online means. Training-based models are
frequently employed to develop ICT skills such as those covered by the International Computer Drivers
License (ICDL), and sometimes to introduce the integration of computers into the curriculum—as in the
Intel Teach to the Future program.
Standardized, training-based approaches should focus on the exploration of an idea and the demonstration
and modeling of skills. When employed in accordance with best practices discussed in this handbook,
standardized approaches can effectively:
■ Expose teachers to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new colleagues
■ Disseminate knowledge and instructional methods to teachers throughout a country or region
■ Visibly demonstrate the commitment of a nation or vendor or project to a particular course
of action
Often, however, workshops take place at one time and in one location without follow-up, and without
helping teachers build the range of skills and capacities needed to use new techniques when they return to
their schools. These one-time sessions can certainly help introduce and build awareness about computers,
learner-centered instruction, or new curricula. But trainings without support rarely result in effective
changes in teaching and learning—or in adoption of computers at the school level.
Section 3. Models and Best Practices in Teacher Professional Development . 19
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The Cascade approach is used repeatedly in developing countries, often with little success. However, Relief International - Schools
Online’s (RI-SOL) School Connectivity Project in Tajikistan successfully used the Cascade approach to reach teachers in over 20 secondary
schools spread throughout the mountainous country.
First, in-country teacher trainers were identified and received instruction in using technology for teaching through student-centered
techniques. They were assigned to one or two school-based Internet Learning Centers near their homes to provide on-site teacher support
throughout the multi-year program.
Following the initial one-week intensive workshop, RI-SOL staff traveled monthly to the schools to meet with trainees and communicated
daily via online chat to help them develop a TPD plan and practice communication, technology, and lesson planning skills. Trainers were
given autonomy to develop training programs and educational projects that provided individualized solutions relevant to their schools and
teachers, while also participating in monthly online collaborative projects between schools within Tajikistan and internationally. At the end
of the first academic year, the teacher trainers conducted the subsequent training workshop for a new cadre of trainers as the program
expanded to more schools.
Teacher trainers were paid by RI-SOL according to outcomes. To receive pay, trainers had to document their work with teachers as well as
provide project results showing teacher and student achievement. These supports (ongoing TPD, monthly face-to-face meetings, constant
technology-based communication, and outcome-based pay) helped in-country trainers successfully integrate new technology into class-
rooms and curricula across the country.
The Cascade Model
In the Cascade model, one or two teachers from a school receive standardized TPD via a training-based
model and return to their schools to replicate the training that they have received—serving as “champion
teachers” or a “vanguard team.” Cascade approaches are often used to help teachers learn basic computer
skills and to integrate computers into teaching and learning.
The World Links program typically relies on a face-to-face Cascade model: Champion teachers participate in
professional development. They then return to their schools’ computer labs to provide basic computing TPD
to their colleagues and serve as coordinators or managers of their schools’ computers labs.
Although the scale of Cascade-based TPD is potentially tremendous, weaknesses in the approach may limit
its effectiveness. Factors that impede changes in teachers’ instructional practices include:
■ Workshops that typically focus on helping champion teachers learn new techniques as users, without
helping them build the skills they need as professional-development providers
■ Strong challenges for champion teachers due to a lack of both TPD for school leaders, and programs that
motivate teachers to participate in TPD
Champion teachers who may lack the leadership, facilitation skills and mastery of the new techniques they
need to guide their colleagues effectively—even when time and resources are part of the overall TPD
Consider Using Standardized TPD When…
The goal is to:
■ Disseminate information to the largest number of teachers possible
■ Introduce teachers to computers, the Internet, and strategies for using these tools
■ Build awareness of best practices
■ Expose teachers to new knowledge, skills, strategies and individuals
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Strengths Limitations Cost considerations
• One-to-many format facilitates • Excludes site-based issues • Lower unit costs: cost per teacher
large-scale project • “One size fits all” approach excludes contextual trained, and cost per hour of
• Introduces a common knowledge issues that may pose barriers to implementation in training
base and skills to many partici- schools
pants • Unless it is a series of workshops over a long pe- • Costs include travel-related ex-
• Broadens teachers’ knowledge riod of time, the one-shot approach of workshops penses for trainer and participants
by providing access to new ideas does not address the long-term, developmental • Cost-effectiveness should be
and strategies nature of learning measured in relation to outcomes
• “Pyramid” training structure • Significant diminishment of skills and knowledge • Budgeting should address follow
facilitates large-scale projects and in the transfer from champion teacher to col- up and support
rapid diffusion across systems leagues • Electronic follow up (via the
• Can engender new alliances and • Format doesn’t provide follow up or support—es- Internet) cannnot work unless all
relationships among participating sential components for success that require areas of infrastructure are sound
teachers additional cost and capacity
• Cost-effective means of distribut- • Evaluation and accountability are difficult—class- • Allocations must include teacher
ing discrete sets of knowledge room-based results only emerge over time, and incentives—especially when
and skills intended to be imple- are outside the workshop structure champion teachers benefit finan-
mented by all teachers—HIV/ • Training facilities may not match school condi- cially from additional income or
AIDS awareness in schools, gen- tions—champion teachers and teachers may not per diem reimbursements
der-equity initiatives in classrooms be able to apply TPD
And when conditions are such that:
■ Expert knowledge is scarce or concentrated in ADDRESSING WOMEN IN TPD
urban areas
Just as Education for All mandates educational access for all
■ Additional follow-up can be provided on-site students, opportunities for TPD should be provided to all teach-
in schools ers, regardless of ethnic group, geographic location or religious
affiliation. Because educating girls is critical to a nation’s
development, and because access to qualified female teachers
SITE-BASED TPD is critical to girls’ development, female teachers should be
provided with every opportunity to continue their professional
Site-based TPD often takes place in schools,
resource centers or teacher training colleges.
Teachers work with local (“in house”) facilitators
or master teachers to engage in more gradual processes of learning, and building mastery of pedagogy,
content and technology skills. Site-based TPD often focuses on the specific, situational problems that
individual teachers encounter as they try to implement new techniques.
Successful examples of site-based TPD include Guinea’s FQEL project, which combines recorded versions of
the Pas à Pas, or “Step by Step,” educational radio broadcasts for teachers with face-to-face local TPD for
district inspectors. District inspectors then work with Pas à Pas teachers in schools. Namibia’s Basic
Education Support 2 (BES II) program employs a school cluster-based approach that uses observation,
assessment and video examples to help teachers improve instruction and assessment. The Implementation
Briefs provide a fuller description of the many types of site-based professional development models, as well
as strategies for finding the time to provide site-based TPD.
Site-based TPD models tend to:
■ Bring people together to address local issues and needs over a period of time
■ Encourage individual initiative and collaborative approaches to problems
■ Allow more flexible, sustained and intensive TPD
■ Provide ongoing opportunities for professional learning among a single set of teachers
Section 3. Models and Best Practices in Teacher Professional Development . 21
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8. However, site-based approaches are time- and
labor-intensive, which also give rise to challenges. CHARACTERISTICS OF
Site-based approaches require locally-based TPD
Relevance and appropriateness: The individual teacher must
providers skilled in facilitation, instruction, find the content and delivery of professional development
content, curriculum, assessment, and technology. relevant to his/her needs, and appropriate for the culture of the
Facilitators also should be adept at helping teachers community, as well as in sync with the goals of the school.
succeed in low-resource environments. Dr. Shirley Hord, Scholar Emerita
Establishing and maintaining a network of such University of Texas and
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory
facilitators to meet the needs of large-scale TPD
programs is challenging in any environment. In Austin, Texas (USA)
the teacher-poor education systems of some
developing countries, this challenge is magnified.
In addition, because site-based TPD extends over a longer period and takes place in many locations,
initiatives in specific regions may be disrupted by civil conflict, disease (HIV/AIDS, cholera, etc), or changes
in school leadership.
Despite these challenges, site-based TPD should be part of any country’s long-term professional-develop-
ment planning for educational improvement. Such programs may be expensive while local TPD providers
are being developed. However, once site-based programs are in place, new curricula, pedagogies, tools, and
administrative practices can be introduced in a cost-effective manner.
Consider Using Site-based TPD When…
■ Changing instructional practices is critical
■ Plans call for a significant enhancement of teachers’ subject knowledge or of classroom teaching and
■ Objectives include ongoing growth toward overall excellence in teaching and learning
■ There is a core group of teachers from each school able to participate in professional development
■ Technology—television, radio, the Internet—can be used to supplement professional development
■ Facilitators or master teachers can be developed regionally at teacher training colleges or at schools
Site-based methods can augment and provide follow-up for standardized methods. New science units or
assessment methods, for example, can be introduced at nationwide workshops to facilitators and teachers.
These facilitators will then return to their schools and work onsite with their colleagues to implement the
new techniques effectively.
Many TPD programs cannot be neatly categorized as either standardized or site-based. In the United States,
the Applying Technology to Restructuring Learning (ATRL) project of Southwest Educational Development
Strengths Limitations Cost considerations
• More conducive to building a • Time intensive • On-going training involves recur-
community of practice • Difficult to provide expertise to low-resource rent expenditure
• Locally based, focused on local areas, especially those impacted by conflict or • Costs include creating training
needs and builds and cultivates that are geographically remote materials, and purchasing audio-
local expertise tapes, cassette players, batteries
• Supports sustained TPD efforts that • Must budget for transportation so
cultivate expertise in schools facilitators can reach schools
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Strengths Limitations Cost considerations
• Flexibility • Teachers must have access to technology or to • None to little (to school or govern-
• Opportunities for choice and other resources ment). Individual assumes the
individualization • Assumes that the teacher has already developed cost of his/her own professional
• Teacher can participate in online a high level of expertise formation
communities and access resources • Only works with teachers who are highly moti- • If teachers access the Internet at
that would be otherwise unavail- vated and autonomous school, learning may involve dial-
able. • Since the teacher works alone, the attrition rate up costs and printing
may be higher • If teachers use telecenters or
• When technology is not working, the learning Internet cafes, access costs may
opportunity is lost pose a barrier
Laboratory combined six annual workshops with monthly, school-based TPD, such as Lesson Study, peer
classroom observations, and Open Lessons. This combined approach of standardized workshops and site-
based approaches helped teachers create learner-centered, technology-enriched activities.Self-directed TPD
In self-directed TPD, teachers are asked to determine their own professional development goals and select
activities that will help them attain these goals. Self-directed TPD can involve watching video examples of
classrooms, reading books on education or a field of study, keeping journals, performing case studies, taking
online courses, or observing classes taught by colleagues. Many teachers already participate in informal, self-
directed TPD, by seeking out an experienced colleague for advice, for example, or searching for lesson plans
on the Internet.
Self-directed TPD places all responsibility on the teacher and requires little of the school. In many cases,
school leadership directs a teacher to develop expertise in a certain area without providing resources or
guidance. Teachers may be challenged to make use of the resources that they find on their own: If a lesson
plan on plant biology uses Canadian trees as examples, a teacher needs to be able to substitute local trees in
ways that support the lesson accurately. If a project description involves “cooperative learning,” and bases
assessment on interactions within small groups, a teacher without advanced skills may make poor use of the
project. Self-directed activities are most effective with teachers who are motivated self-starters, and who have
already developed teaching skills and subject mastery.
For these reasons, self-directed TPD does little to promote basic or intermediate skills, and so is of less benefit
to low-skilled teachers. Computers and the Internet can make self-directed TPD more worthwhile, but even
with ample access and connectivity, self-directed TPD works best with advanced teachers wishing to enhance
their knowledge and skills.
While teachers should certainly be encouraged to participate in ongoing, self-motivated learning, self-
directed activities should not be used as the primary means of providing TPD. Instead, they should be used
to complement and extend standardized and/or site-based TPD.
Consider Using Self-directed TPD When…
■ There are no other organized professional development options
■ Self-motivated and innovative individual teachers need opportunities for learning that are not otherwise
Section 3. Models and Best Practices in Teacher Professional Development . 23
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10. ■ Self-directed activities are part of an overall professional development program that includes standardized
or site-based TPD
■ Supports, incentives and structures are in place to ensure that self-directed TPD is the most effective way
to meet teacher needs
■ International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Educational Technology Standards
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has created the most comprehensive set of
ICT standards for teachers, students, and administrators. The standards are the product of collaboration
of more than 2,000 educators who wrote, tested, and revised learning activities and multidisciplinary
units to support classroom teachers preparing students to become technology-capable learners. The
hands-on activities focus on subject matter and show how appropriate technology can be employed as
part of the learning experience. (select “NETS” to go the standards section)
■ National Staff Development Council Standards for Professional Development
The National Staff Development Council’s Standards for Professional Development reflect the most
current best practices in professional learning. The standards examine what students are expected to
know and be able to do, what teachers must do in order to ensure student success, and the ways in which
professional development must meet both goals.
■ South African Curriculum (Wiki Book)
This is an example of a Wiki—a Website that allows users to update and edit content collaboratively—
that contains South Africa’s national curriculum. All information may be accessed for free, commented
upon, and modified as necessary.
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