“Right now, change [in education technology] is happening in very large increments, and it’s happening very quickly.” – Brad Smrstick, USA
Well-designed teacher training is at the heart of every successful education technology implementation, and no one knows this better than Brad Smrstick. As a teacher trainer for Hillsborough County Schools in Florida, Smrstick has been part of an ambitious digital transformation in the U.S.’s eighth largest school system. The system is known for innovation (Superintendent MaryEllen Elia was recently named Florida Superintendent of the Year for 2015), and teacher training plays a big role in that reputation.
We talked to Brad at the recent Global Forum in Miami, where he told us about the role he’s playing in ensuring that the district’s teachers are prepared to make the most of new technology. “As part of my partnership with the Microsoft Innovative Educator program,” Smrstick says, “I have had an opportunity to work with other educators, district supervisors, and technology leaders from around the country, and from them, I’ve been able to enhance the skills that I’ve built from within my own district. I take all the great ideas I get from all the folks I meet from around the country, and all the folks I work with at Microsoft, back to my team.”
Smrstick recently took on a new role working with his district’s IT team, but his experience is firmly rooted in teaching. As a physics teacher, he was awarded with appointments at some of the most highly regarded National Laboratories in the country – including the Fermi Lab and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 2005, he completed a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology, which ultimately led him to training.
For his Microsoft Innovative Educator project, Smrstick helped to establish the Microsoft Summer Institute within his district. The five-day program provided professional educators with the opportunity to gain MIE certification while earning 30 hours of professional development credit. The event offered more than 70 sessions over the span of a week — including a group of core sessions and a wide range of elective courses that allow participants to customize their experience. Participants were exposed to a wide variety of free digital tools from Microsoft while collaborating and sharing with their colleagues.
As a teacher trainer, Smrstick has his finger on the pulse of education innovation, and he’s looking forward seeing how BYOD and 1:1 learning play out in his district. “Right now, change is happening in very large increments, and it’s happening very quickly,” Smrstick says. “1-to-1 is going to offer huge opportunities for change, [allowing] our teachers… to deliver content in new and exciting ways, and most important, [enabling] our students to learn in the technology modes they’re most comfortable in.”
Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Brad Smrstick.