Freeing the 21st century classroom from 19th century instructional practices : a single descriptive case study on the role of professional development in educational technology on integration in secondary social studies.
Educational technology has integrated into most K–12 institutions making digital access ubiquitous for teachers and students. Campuses utilize either shared digital devices or 1:1 computer initiatives to provide a device to every student on campus. Yet, professional development in educational technology has not met the needs of teachers to fully integrate educational technology in their classrooms. One of the best indicators of the successful use of digital tools or resources is the comfort level and expertise of the classroom teacher. The experience of teachers in planning and integrating technology through digital lessons is an important part of successfully employing educational technology to improve student learning. This single descriptive case study examined the experience of middle school social studies teachers in planning and integrating educational technology to enhance student learning based on a professional development session. The researcher used the Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) theoretical framework and Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) model to guide the professional development session and the creation of the lesson template used as part of this research study. Teachers selected for the study worked at on a middle school campus located in the southern United States. I followed teachers from three vertically aligned grade levels (6-8) and collaborated with instructional coaches to develop and implement a tech-focused professional development session during the spring 2020 semester. Teachers participated in professional development sessions on educational technology and utilized the TPACK framework in PLC discussions on use of technology in the classroom. The COVID-19 pandemic required virtual interviews and observations during this study. The research study provided recommendations for systematic professional development in educational technology at the district level. The research study yielded data on teacher beliefs regarding educational technology and the role of professional development to enhance classroom integration. Participants indicated that they believed technology improved instruction and student experience but did not feel prepared by current professional development practices. This study demonstrated that targeted professional development sessions that focused on teacher knowledge, content, and continuous improvement provided the tools necessary to increase teacher comfort levels and the use of digital learning resources.