The Importance of Professional Development in the 21st Century

Kathryn Starke
Kathryn Starke
Professional development expert; MA in Literacy and Culture

Ask educators that has been teaching for over 30 years if they have seen a shift in education, and you will hear an overwhelming yes. Therefore, it is imperative for new and experienced teachers to receive  growth support through ongoing professional development opportunities, especially as they relate to new trends in 21st-century learning and educational technology.

Educational Technology in the Classroom

Educational technology now offers professional development opportunities that are often created around innovative new apps and gaming tools. These opportunities are either offered by the actual company that created the ed-tech (educational technology) or by a colleague or technology integrator teaching you how to use this educational technology effectively in the classroom. Schools and districts coast to coast have an appropriated budget for educational technology, which means educators must choose an EdTech application, from an approved list, that will impact student achievement. The use of “one to one” devices, Chromebooks, coding, and digital competency are just a few initiatives implemented in schools across the country in educational technology.

Understanding Trends in Education to Improve Communication with Students

21st-century Learning has been at the forefront of the most recent trends when it comes to preparing children for college and career readiness. Communication is one of the 4 C’s among the major trends in the 21st century learning strategies. Communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration are skills that students will need throughout their educational career and in the work force. Platforms like Edmodo, which was created strictly for the use of educational institutions, are being used as a communication tool with students both inside and outside of the classroom. Flipped classrooms are often implemented now to teach students virtual lessons in a particular subject before even entering the classroom. Communication and collaboration are encouraged among peers through the use of Google Classroom, Chat, or Drive. In this manner, students are able to easily communicate with teachers and classmates through a private classroom or drive housing information and assignments specific to their own class.

Unfortunately, children today are also experiencing heightened levels of anxiety due to the ease of communication through social media outlets. Therefore, morning meetings have been added to the school’s master schedule, so that teachers have a specific time of day to work with students on how communicating feelings, and demonstrating how communicating with others is so important. Picture books are often used to drive the conversation, lesson, and role playing. More often than not, the books are about growth mindset or social and emotional learning (SEL).

The Future of Educational Technology in the Classroom

With over a billion dollars poured into ed-tech last year alone, it is safe to say that educational technology will only continue to evolve.  However, in this new era of education, it is important to not only look at trends, but also at data and research. Sixty-four percent of all 8th-grade students are unable to read proficiently, according to the most recent report by of the National Association for Educational Progress. If these platforms were really working, we would see solid results. Until educators are brought to the table to create digital solutions that help students become competent in reading, educational technology will just be another semi-useful thing instead of an effective learning tool.

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