A Literature Review: The Importance of Technology Professional Development

Laura A. Miller

Bowling Green State University

Author Note

Laura A. Miller, Eighth Grade Science Teacher, Napoleon Junior/Senior High School.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Laura A. Miller, Napoleon

Junior/Senior High School, 701 Briarheath Drive, Napoleon, OH 43545



The purpose of this literature review is to examine the importance of quality, up-to-date

technology professional development for educators. Teacher’s attitudes towards technology

impact student success, which makes personalization of professional development so important.

Teachers must feel they are spending time that will benefit their curriculum before they are

willing to put forth any effort to transform their teaching pedagogy. Professional development

sessions can be offered in a variety of ways that teachers can choose from that best meets their

curriculum and technology skill level.

A Literature Review: The Importance of Technology Professional Development

Technology constantly evolves and becomes more sophisticated with each step taken.

The students of today were born into this fast-paced digital age and are accustomed to being able

to access information at the click of a button. More than ever, teachers need quality professional

development that is transformative in nature. The attitude a teacher has towards technology

impacts student learning. Therefore, it is important for school districts to have a clear technology

vision in place and offer a variety of opportunities for a teacher to grow his or her technological


Impact of a Teacher’s Attitude Towards Technology

If teachers do not embrace how technology has changed how students learn, he or she

will no longer be as effective as the peers that welcome it. Teachers who have embraced

technology have constructivist classrooms that provide multiple paths for students to show

proficiency and provide challenges to a student’s previous beliefs (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009,

p. 210). Research suggests that the art and human aspect of teaching is most important, and

technology is only a tool and does not function correctly if it is not used properly (Keengwe &

Onchwari, 2009, p. 210). Christensen (2002) studied the effects of technology integration

education on the attitudes of teachers and students. He found that an important factor that

influences a child’s educational experience is their teacher’s attitude, and teachers who receive

professional development about technology integration are more likely to have positive attitudes

towards its use (Christensen, 2002 p. 425).

Teachers have expressed concern about their own lack of effectiveness when teaching

this current digital generation of students (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p. 215). Moreover, their

concern feeds into the fear of the unknown. “Reducing uncertainty is the first step to becoming

confident and competent users of technology (Christensen, 2002 p. 411). Keengwe and

Onchwari (2009) found that lack of time, resources, knowledge and motivation are issues today’s

busy teachers struggle with (p. 217). Their research advised that ongoing educational training

reduces teacher anxiety (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009). Christensen (2002) also states that

professional development training should be properly sequenced in order to move teachers to

higher levels (p. 430). Once teachers feel more confident about the use of technology, they can

accurately assess their needs in the classroom and develop a personalized plan.

Schols (2002) examined the understanding transformative learning to foster technology

professional development. Schols (2002) states, “teachers need compelling reasons to

dramatically change their teaching and learning practice. Forced or mandated changes too often

result in anger and frustration” (p. 45). Once a teacher understands their technology needs, he or

she can make decisions about what to study and then create a plan to learn new skills to improve

student learning (Loveland, 2012, p. 27). Teachers will disengage if they realize the offered or

mandated professional development does not align to his or her standards (Surrette & Johnson,

2015, p. 266). Keengwe and Onchwari (2009) noted that teachers felt that a professional

development session was a waste of their time if they did not directly benefit (p. 216). Martin et

al. (2010) stated that teachers who have been successfully integrating technology reported

experiencing professional development that helped them connect the curriculum to technology

(p. 54).

Professional Development Alignment with State and Technology Standards

The goal for teachers is to embed technology skills in their curriculum that their students

will use in the real world. Once entering an institution of higher education or the workforce,

students will need to have skills that will help them find, analyze, and share information

(Bielefeldt, 2012, p. 207). The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has set

forth standards for teachers, students, and technology coaches to guide instruction. The original

standards emphasized the use of technology and not the outcome of its use (Bielefeldt, 2012, p.

221.) These universal technology standards are necessary, but standards themselves do not

describe how they are to be accomplished (Bielefeldt, 2012, p. 206). Keengwe and Onchwari

(2009) states that ineffective technology leadership is a barrier to integration efforts (p. 214).

Teachers are skeptic of their school’s technology plans if they lack a model that they can use to

guide them towards transforming their teaching pedagogy (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p. 216).

Professional development plans are sometimes requirements for teacher evaluations and

these plans need to tie closely to the school improvement plan’s goals (Loveland, 2012, p. 28).

Because a school district has a diverse staff of different technological capabilities, providing a

one-size-fits-all series of professional development of random technology concepts will not do.

School leaders need to assess the needs of its teachers so that they can provide the appropriate

professional development (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p. 217). The goals of the program

should be specific, measurable, and attainable (Loveland, 2012, p. 28).

Loveland (2012) studied professional development plans for technology education and

teacher accountability. In addition to being attainable, goals should connect to standards,

identify training so action can take place, identify the expected outcome for both teachers and

student learning (Loveland, 2012, p. 29). Research has suggested that even though professional

development is required, there is not necessarily any follow-up to make sure the teacher is

implementing newly learned skills (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p. 214). Therefore, there is no

consequence or incentive for the teacher to follow through and experiment with new technology

and how it connects to standards. School leaders should support the teachers who do use

technology effectively so that they can serve as mentor or teachers who are not as advanced and

provide a stipend for their time (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p. 214).

Opportunities for Professional Development

In the digital age of today, there is a wealth of resources available for anyone to learn

about anything they wish. While their might be no-cost ways to develop technology skills, the

time spent learning as you go is not always timely or efficient. Companies, educational service

centers, higher education institutions and designated training days for professional development

are all opportunities schools and teachers can pursue.

The most time-intensive and costly professional development involves site-based,

academic year-long training. Martin et al. (2010) found that regularly scheduled sessions

provides active engagement of participants, relevant activities, ways to measure impact, and a

community where teachers can find support and feedback (p. 53) Most importantly, on-site,

quality training exposes teachers to specific models of how the process being taught is used in

the classroom. Martin et al. (2010) states that modeling instruction was the strongest predictor of

quality lesson plans (p. 63).

Another option for on-site professional development is offering summer institutes. These

sessions are hands-on workshops with the purpose of having teachers integrate curriculum and

technology (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p. 211). Summer sessions allows for experimentation

on a variety of productivity applications that can be shared with the class. This collaboration

allows peers to critique creations and have whole-class discussions on specific ways to improve

the project (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p. 212).

A cost-effective way to deliver professional development is through online training.

Multiple higher education institutions offer single courses teachers can choose from based on

their needs and interests. Surrette and Johsnon (2015) found that online communities, such as

message boards, allow teachers to reflect on classroom teaching practices. This dialogue is

important in the role of transformative learning (Schols, 2012, p.47). Through critical reflection,

one can refine and build content knowledge by collaborating with others (Surrette and Johsnon,

2015, p. 266). Online professional development courses allow teachers to practice skills and

collaborate with online communities. This leads to teachers feeling confident and enthusiastic

about infusing technology into their curriculum.


Upon reading the literature, two common themes prevailed: teacher attitudes towards

technology and the importance of quality teacher professional development and implementation.

As Keengwe and Onchwari (2009) suggest, lack of time, resources, knowledge and motivation

prevent teachers from successfully integrating technology. The demands for teaching

professionals with technology has grown exponentially, and rarely do teachers get rewarded for

this extra work. Research agrees that technology is needed in the classroom, but the teacher is

the ultimate factor as to whether it positively or negatively affects student learning. Teachers are

being asked to transform their craft, and this is very difficult for teachers to agree to. Teachers

are going to resist change if the school does not have a clear vision for technology usage at their

school, provide ongoing support, and allow time for learning new skills. If a teacher is able to

tailor their professional development needs to their content and interests, he or she is more likely

to engage enthusiastically in the process of technology integration.

Applying for grants can ease the burden of schools who lack proper funding. Individuals

or groups of teachers can also co-author grants that they feel are most beneficial to their specific

technology needs. Schools (2002) reminds administration that mandated, one-size-fits-all

professional development does not serve the needs of all teachers. Beginners need to be in lower

level classes and progress in carefully planned steps so their confidence increases. Districts who

do not have clear technology goals that are measurable and attainable creates frustration.

Professional development plans that do not hold the teacher accountable is not beneficial or

financially responsible. Teachers should be able to choose their plan of professional

development based on their needs and interests. If a teacher is dedicating their time to something

other than their current responsibilities, they have high expectations of the time in professional

development. If the session was not relevant to their content area or grade level, teachers will

only become more frustrated with the technology integration process. This is why school

leadership teams need to assess where every teacher is on the skill spectrum and plan

professional development accordingly.

Multiple opportunities for professional development are available for teachers or

administration to choose from when developing a plan of action. Administration can host a

professional to teach a session one month, then have follow-up meetings to discuss successes and

challenges. This also holds teachers accountable since they must contribute to the conversation

or share a lesson. Teachers can also sign up for online classes and work at their own pace while

having a virtual community for support and feedback. This option also allows for hands-on

modeling of the running of a virtual classroom.

Further studies about the effectiveness of professional development implementation.

While research currently leans towards academic year-round and onsite professional

development works, it is not always feasible. Teachers have many professional, personal, and

family responsibilities. All of these different schedules mean that attendance will never be

100%. The flexibility of quality professional development online courses could alleviate this

problem. Teachers could also easily choose different courses that meet their needs. Teachers can

also take summer classes, but attendance could certainly be low during this uncontracted time. If

teachers are not given contractual work time for professional development, then a stipend or

reimbursement of fees should be issued for their time above and beyond their contract



Bielefeldt, T. (2012). Guidance for technology decisions from classroom observation. Journal of

Research on Technology in Education, 44(3), 205. doi:10.1080/15391523.2012.10782587

Christensen, R. (2002). Effects of technology integration education on the attitudes of teachers

and students. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 34(4), 411.

Keengwe, J., & Onchwari, G. (2009). Technology and Early Childhood Education: A

Technology Integration Professional Development Model for Practicing Teachers. Early

Childhood Education Journal, 37(3), 209-218. doi:10.1007/s10643-009-0341-0

Loveland, T. (2012). Professional development plans for technology education: Accountability-

based applications at the secondary and post-secondary level. Technology and

Engineering Teacher, 71(7), 26.

Martin, W., Strother, S., Beglau, M., Bates, L., Reitzes, T., & McMillan Culp, K. (2010).

Connecting instructional technology professional development to teacher and student

outcomes. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(1), 53.


Schols, M. (2012). Examining and Understanding Transformative Learning to Foster

Technology Professional Development in Higher Education. International Journal Of

Emerging Technologies in Learning, 7(1), 42-49.

Surrette, T. N., & Johnson, C. C. (2015). Assessing the Ability of an Online Environment to

Facilitate the Critical Features of Teacher Professional Development. School Science &

Mathematics, 115(6), 260-270. doi:10.1111/ssm.12132