In this post, Sarah T. Meltzer, author of Step-by-Step Professional Development in Technology talks about the importance of assessing staff’s needs when it comes to technology infused professional development.
In this fast-paced society where the use of technology is embedded into all aspects of education, it’s important that we, as educators, take a step back and realize how to successfully integrate technology into our curriculum. In order to do that, we must first ascertain where our teachers are with technology in general.
A crucial aspect to professional development training involving technology is in the planning stages. The development and distribution of a needs assessment survey can be a good area for first discussions. This not only includes everyone but also helps inform faculty and staff of the scope of the project while allowing them to give input. It will help narrow the focus of what needs to be done, what goals should be targeted, and where funds may need to be budgeted. More importantly, it may provide insight into attitudes of faculty and staff as well as who might be motivated and willing to be a strong supporter. Sometimes a survey to determine needs will provide surprising results and completely change the original course of a project. Skipping this step or disregarding the results as unimportant may prove to be a mistake in the long run. It needs to be part of the big picture and discussed in the early stages before the actual plan begins. This Needs Assessment Survey may also help determine specific learning needs and limitations of the participants. Do not treat these needs lightly.
A needs assessment is designed to obtain information from faculty or staff regarding their comfort level with the use of technologies and what their perceptions may be regarding training aspects. This sample is provided as a template and should be customized to identify specific areas relating to the goals or expectations of the project.
It is important to consider what information the planning committee may need in order to plan effective professional development. By customizing the needs assessment survey, the key information can be obtained in a short form without requiring faculty to complete unnecessary information. The simpler and more concise the survey, the more likely the faculty will be to complete it. It also might be helpful to distribute several short needs assessments over a period of time targeting different aspects of the project. This is especially appropriate if the major goal is long-term but includes many short-term goals.