Instructional technology is a critical component of teaching and learning in today’s world. Technology, when aligned to research-based practices, supports teachers in delivering instruction that is adapted to meet the needs of all students. However, it’s not enough for teachers to simply use technology tools. Teachers need to be able to effectively use technology, select appropriate tools, and integrate technology into the curriculum in order to have impactful technology use. Impactful technology use is the ability of educators to use technology to develop their students’ skills in six imperative categories: agency, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and ability to select relevant technology tools.
As part of a series of projects funded by the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) starting in 2020, the Puerto Rican-based educational organization, Global Education Exchange Opportunities (GEEO) partnered with Digital Promise to lead professional development efforts aligned with the PRDE’s goals for instructional technology from May 2020 through August 2021.
Despite immense challenges of the pandemic that forced many aspects of the collaboration to shift, the project represented a significant change in Puerto Rico’s approach to supporting teachers with technology integration. Namely, this was the first formal introduction of competency-based professional learning through micro-credentials in Puerto Rico. To support current implementation and to provide insights to shape future implementation, Digital Promise examined teachers’ experiences with technology and professional learning through a series of case studies. Our new case study report highlights the effectiveness and impact of professional learning support for technology integration and use, including competency-based micro-credentials, for educators. It addresses the following questions:
This report synthesizes findings from the perspective of 14 teachers on their technology journey as well as from larger island-wide surveys and data. It seeks to identify patterns and trends–including common structural barriers and opportunities–influencing the professional learning and development of teachers around their use of technology as part of their classroom practice. It also includes eight key recommendations that education decision-makers in Puerto Rico can use to shape current and future technology integration programs.
The key takeaways from this study are relevant beyond the context of Puerto Rico as well:
Overall, despite hardships, teachers are using technology more frequently and more confidently, and they are eager to gain opportunities to grow their skills. Educators expressed they now have a solid foundation for using technology and digital tools for teaching that they did not have before the pandemic. They envision using these skills and technologies no matter the learning environment next school year.
To learn more about the case study in Puerto Rico, download the full report.