H. Atkins, C. Roberts

Saint Leo University (UNITED STATES)
How does a teacher become a digital educator? Teacher preparation programs, local schools, as well as colleges and universities have long struggled to support their faculties, as well as future teachers, in their development of the theoretical and practical knowledge and skills expected of digital educators. Millions of dollars are spent every year on equipment that may only nominally get used, and often in ways that scarcely tap the potential of the equipment or the learner themselves. Some say that professional development is the key. However, professional development is often in reality merely training on how to operate digital tools. True professional development is transformative – the teacher-participant gains not only technical knowledge, but has undergone change in attitude and perspective. Nowhere is this level of transformation required than in the development of digital educators. While research has identified isolated elements found in effective teacher technology training, there is still a need to bring these elements together in a framework that can serve as an overarching guide for those wanting to design effective programs to develop digital educators. The 4 T's Framework offers such a model. In this model, four critical, symbiotic components are identified as essential to the effective transformation of technologically-proficient educators: Tools (Afshari, et al., 2009; Cuckle & Carke, 2002; Kopcha, 2012; Pelgrum, 2001), Training (Desimone, L.M., 2009; Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C., 2001; Wei, R.C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., Orphanos, S., 2009), Time (Desimone, L.M., 2009; Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C., 2001) and Teamwork (Zorfass, J. & Rivero, H.K., 2005; Rogers, 2005; Kotter, 1996), each integrally connected and interdependent leading to the technology transformation of teachers. If the integral connectivity among the elements is missing, if only one element is the priority, or even if only one element is missing, efforts and resources intended to support teacher development will be less effective at best, or in the long term, ineffective altogether. It is the integration of these key elements, woven together by effective leadership (Johnston & Cooley, 2001; Pitler, H., 2005, Shapley, et. al., 2010; Potter and Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2012), that provides the hinge that swings the door wide open to successful technology integration and teacher skill development. Application of the 4 T's Framework, demonstrating the effectiveness of the model include a digital backpack project with undergraduate education students, a summer technology institute for classroom teachers in the United States, university faculty in a school of education, and classroom teachers involved in an online and on-ground technology training in Greece.