November/December 2001 // Faculty and Staff Development
Taking Technology to the Classroom:
Pedagogy-Based Training for Educators
by David P. Diaz
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source ( as: David P. Diaz "Taking Technology to the Classroom:
Pedagogy-Based Training for Educators" The Technology Source, November/December 2001. Available online at The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

Instructors at a small community college were excited after hearing my presentation on the instructional uses of technology. "What we need is hands-on training," they said in their evaluations. So, I was consulted again to offer several hands-on workshops. After completing the workshops, the faculty members sang a different tune: "We didn't realize it was going to be so hard. Although we are interested in using technology in the classroom, we aren't skilled enough to put together a quality educational product." Many went away discouraged and unsure if, or how, they would implement instructional technologies. From that time forward, I have contemplated the following questions: "Are our efforts at technology training for faculty as effective or efficient as they could be?" And, "How might we better focus our training efforts?"

William Knoke, in his book Bold New World (1996), warned that technology that is not used and implemented quickly is worthless: "Cutting-edge technology is as perishable as a truckload of ripe bananas: it's worth a fortune today, but if not used quickly, it becomes worthless" (p.166). Thus, a major goal of technology training should be to help faculty to bring technology-mediated instruction to the classroom in a time- and cost-efficient manner. Speed of training must be improved and implementation (i.e., educational product development) time must be halved.

In the midst of a major competitive upheaval in higher education, college administrators are asking faculty to help position colleges as "learning organizations" that will attract a broad cross-section of potential new "clients." In doing so, they are implicitly perpetuating a long-standing model of training that focuses on individual teachers as technicians who must learn to use whatever new technology is at hand. From overhead projectors and laserdisc players to camcorders and VHS editing, teachers have learned the ins and outs of using previous technologies to enhance instruction. But this model will not sustain us in the future. Many colleges have generally asked faculty to bear an inordinate burden when it comes to implementing technology into the classroom. To create technology products (e.g., Web sites and multimedia presentations) these days, faculty must learn multiple new skills within a vast array of hardware, software, and peripherals, and keep these skills current in the face of increasingly rapid technological change. The nature of the task at hand is unprecedented in this respect. Never has technological change been so rapid, so sustained, and driven by so many new and emerging resources. Such continual, large-scale upgrading of technology skills has increasingly resulted in a reduction of time to focus on discipline, teaching, and research activities.

The trend of technology promotion in education has generated two formidable questions: "What type of training is necessary?" and, "How much training is sufficient?" I have spent the better part of 10 years attempting to answer these questions, for my own understanding and to help further technology implementation at my college. I have consequently put forth four principles of technology training (Diaz, 2001). Since these principles promote pedagogy first and focus on the learner, I have described these methods as "pedagogy-based" (Diaz, 2000; Diaz & Bontenbal, 2000). The principles are summarized below.

First: Emphasize good teaching, not good technology. Most faculty members want to learn things they can use, and can use quickly, to address teaching and learning. They want to become "end users" of technology, not technicians who must stay abreast of every new development in hardware, software, and programming skills.

Unfortunately, most technology training focuses on the technology. It is often assumed that faculty will be able to adapt their methods in such a way as to include each new and "cool" technology tool. But what types of hardware or software are essential, and what skills within these categories should be learned?

I must admit I am a bit of a technology "geek." I enjoy technology for technology's sake. However, I draw the line when it comes to using technology in the classroom. I want to be sure that each technology will support the goal of sound pedagogy. To this end, I promote and teach "pedagogy-based" technology workshops, which focus on good teaching practices and on the design and implementation of technology-mediated courses. I promote my training under the rubric Learning Technology Series. The Learning Technology Series© (LTS) is a pedagogy-based technology training series that can be taught in a computer lab environment or completely online. Each of the LTS modules consists of pedagogical discussions related to online and computer-mediated teaching and involves an introduction to, and hands-on experiences with, different technology tools. Workshop activities involve the use of the LTS CD/Web hybrid, which is provided to each participant.

Pedagogy-based training focuses on good teaching and learning principles and is wide-ranging in terms of applicability; it is thus adaptable to any classroom, regardless of discipline or hardware/software standards. Examples of pedagogy-based training topics would be: "How learning theory guides selection of instructional technologies," or "The role of listservs and message boards in facilitating discussion and collaboration." When you discuss the pedagogy of instructional technology first, you can more easily identify hardware and software that will be essential to the instructional design process. You will also identify mission-critical technical skills that must be learned to effectively implement instructional technologies. Thus, pedagogy-based training serves as the basis for designing future technical training workshops.

Second: Focus training on application not construction. Teachers should be considered "end-users" not technicians. Their considerable talents should be focused on brainstorming, adapting, and delivering teaching and learning activities—not on creating educational technology "products."

Any model of technology training that makes faculty the sole developers of educational products will not suffice in the 21st century. There are too many technical skills that faculty must master in putting, say, a quality Web site online, or creating a compelling multimedia presentation.

Technical training (as opposed to pedagogy-based training described above) is valuable, but should be refocused towards mission-critical technical skills such as those that help faculty members implement instructional technologies. Typical technology training focuses on certain hardware/software skills, like teaching faculty members to use a flatbed scanner or PowerPoint. And yet, using a flatbed scanner is not a mission-critical skill. That is, it does not directly relate to the mission of teaching and learning. To phrase it as a question: Is the scanning of numerous 35-millimeter slides an effective use of time for an Art teacher? How about capturing video and then editing it to create a short instructional video? Each of these tasks involves many skills and techniques. They are interesting activities, yet they represent a huge time commitment. I would propose that, in the face of other pressing technological, discipline and research matters, they are not critical technology skills that most faculty members would want, or need, to learn.

Third: Make product development a team effort. Benson (1997) noted that traditional staff development and inservice training methods are ineffective for helping teachers to use computer technology as an instructional aid. Traditional training methods are not adequate to address the needs of creating technology products because product creation requires numerous technological skills, more skills than can be practically mastered in a time-efficient manner. For example, to create a web site, there is a need to understand the hardware and software components of digitizing, graphic design, and HTML authoring, and the pedagogy of using these technologies to aid instructional delivery. To create a multimedia presentation, faculty members may need to learn to use multimedia presentation software, digitizing hardware and software, have a knowledge of principles of graphic design, and be acquainted with the unique pedagogy skills for using multimedia to enhance the learning environment.

Colleges should support a team-based approach to technology product development. By using the talents of many people, institutions can distribute the workload of product development across individuals and departments. While many colleges with bigger budgets have begun to reconsider the roles of faculty members and have hired technology support staff, the majority of schools either haven't figured out the advantages, don't believe this is the direction to take, or simply can't afford to make these changes. Team-based product development is not only more time and energy efficient, it also serves to "cross-train" team members, who learn from each other and, in the process, enhance their overall technical skills. Product development teams can be composed of any number of people, from professional technicians (e.g., instructional designers, software specialists, and web-masters) to other "lay" professionals (e.g., techno-experienced faculty members, family, and friends). To save money, colleges might also consider using hourly student help.

Fourth: Bring more training to the teacher, not the teacher to the training. The development of the Faculty Development Center (FDC) concept has been widely used as a panacea for technology training needs. That is, many colleges have constructed centralized technology facilities that house high-tech hardware, software, and peripherals and have hoped that this will be sufficient to address such needs. While face-to-face training may continue to be necessary for some, we need to bring more training to faculty members (or to their virtual space). Training "house calls" can personalize training while keeping faculty members in their own, familiar environment, thus optimizing their time spent "on task." This "learner-centered" training style can personalize training in much the same way as teachers who teach to particular student learning preferences or styles.

Training portals can be created online for delivery of training and for creating learning communities. There are a number of good examples of training portals that emphasize community and the needs of the individual faculty member. In California, the Las Positas College Professional Development Center Online is an example of Web-based delivery of technology and pedagogy training. The @ONE Project, funded by the Chancellor's Office of California Community College, has free online training materials as well as a Trainers Network. As stated on the Network's welcome page, it fosters a professional community where trainers can:

  • Share original training materials and exchange best training practices;
  • Search for and download others' training materials to adapt or use as-is;
  • Locate technology-training professionals available for consulting work or exchanges between colleges; and
  • Post and find education-technology related jobs.

The Illinois Online Network is another good example. Their stated mission is to "...promote the effective use of networked information technologies to enhance traditional classroom instruction, and to build the foundation for developing, delivering, and supporting courses delivered in a completely online format."

It is not necessary to buy into the state-of-the-art Faculty Development Center (FDC) as the central component of faculty training. I am not condemning FDCs per se, nor am I saying that existing FDCs should be terminated. However, if your college does not already have an FDC, please consider the following points: First, be sure that you have a comprehensive plan for utilization of FDC facilities and equipment before you open up the doors. Too often colleges begin by building and equipping such facilities, but they have no plan for utilization or training; equipment sits unused and precious technology dollars are squandered. Second, be sure that FDC training efforts recognize a "lowest common denominator." A lot of money is spent these days equipping hi-tech facilities with the "latest and greatest" software and hardware, little of which is available to faculty on the "front lines." Third, if you do promote face-to-face training workshops, be sure to accommodate the learner. Too often, faculty training is set up around facility schedules and the timelines of the support staff. Face-to-face training workshops tend to impose our terms to the learner. If we have learned anything from the recent popularity of "constructivist" learning theory, however, it is that learning—whether by the student or by the faculty trainee—needs to be on their terms.


Technology training should have simple goals, and in this brief article I have proposed four training and development principles. First, faculty should learn to use technology in a way that allows them to address the mission of the college: student learning and student success. This means that teachers will need to learn the pedagogical (not just technical) priorities related to instructional technologies. It is not the mere availability or use of technology that ensures good teaching practices and student success. Second, technology training should focus upon specific, mission-critical skills; student success will be borne out of the appropriate selection, precise mix, and proper use of instructional technologies. Third, a team-based methodology should be adopted in a way that allows faculty to bring effective educational products to the classroom in a time- and cost-efficient fashion. Fourth, a form of training that is delivered virtually as well as face-to-face facilitates these goals while preserving the priority of good teaching practice and a learner-centered education.

Are there other principles? Certainly, perhaps dozens; however, I think that these four principles address the most pressing needs. If, in education, we attempt to train our faculty solely in the technical matters, we will miss the point of our mission to enhance student learning and success. Not only is pedagogy-based training necessary, it should be primary. If we fail to emphasize application and collaborative work in faculty training, we will waste time and resources. Further, by confining our faculty training to face-to-face workshops (in FDCs or elsewhere), we will limit access to necessary skills and and make global implementation of technology a distant dream.


Benson, D. (1997). Technology training: Meeting teachers' changing needs. Principal 76, 17-19.

Diaz, D. P. (2000). Technology training for educators: The pedagogical priority. Computer-Using Educators (CUE) Newsletter 22(2), 1, 25-27.

Diaz, D. P. & Bontenbal, K. F. (2000). Pedagogy-based technology training. In P. Hoffman, and D. Lemke (Eds.), Teaching and Learning in a Network World (pp. 50-54). Amsterdam, Netherlands: IOS Press.

Diaz, D. P. (2001, June). Four principles of technology training. Faculty Association of California Community Colleges Journal (FACCCTS), 9-10.

Knoke, W. (1996). Bold new world. New York, NY: Kodansha.

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