Tuesday, May 18, 2010

15 Additional Practices for Bad Professional Development in Technology

Last month's article The 15 Essential Practices for Bad Professional Development in Technology received some attention from readers here and those with whom I work. Having said that, I originally had no intention of creating a follow up article. However, I recently attended a few "Bad Professional Development Workshops" and started jotting notes. So... without further due, here are 15 additional best practices for bad professional development.

1. There is no need to start your workshop on time.

2. Workshops are an ideal time for a presenter to catch up with their e-mails and phone calls.

3. Start out your presentation slowly and then speed it up to mess with their heads.

4. Make sure your PowerPoint handouts do not match what they see on the screen because it is really funny to watch participants scratch their head and struggle.

5. Three-hour workshops do not require breaks.

6. If a participant cannot log on to the computer, ignore them.

7. Tonight I’m going to teach technology like its 1999!

8. Do not provide laptops or computers for the participants to work with.

9. Reading from a PowerPoint is the essence of good Professional Development.

10. Malware!! Schmalware!!

11. Manuals do not need directions. Screenshots without explanations are sufficient.

12. If the user's application is not working; its all good. Just tell them to look at what you are doing on the screen or look at their neighbor’s screen.

13. Speaking of screens, use the smallest font possible because its fun to watch participants squint.

14. If the application fails while are you presenting; blame the programmer who made the application. Never accept responsibility for your actions!

15. If a user insists on asking for help. Give them a blow-off answer like, "You should really ask your IT person for help."

Editors Note: I am attending another workshop later this week. Here's hoping it is a good workshop.


  1. Jacob: you and Lisa and a few of the rest need to get the hell out of the urban schools and move to a less insane environment. I've been to dozens of presentations over the years and I've never seen the kind of half-assed presenter conduct you've described.

  2. Mark, I love working for the “big urban district”. I feel fortunate to meet, converse, and strategize with some of the most passionate and innovative educators on a regular basis and have benefitted tremendously from this experience. However, when your job entails supporting approximately 100 schools the emergence of “bad PD” comes with the territory. With this in mind, I have seen varying bad practices conducted from time to time. Thankfully, it does not happen too often. However, it is my opinion that once is too much. Many of these “bad practices” can easily be avoided if one plans ahead of time and is aware of the common pitfalls that can lead to bad PD. Hopefully; this article helps PD providers reach a higher standard of service.

  3. Jacob: I hope your unflagging spirit is never quelled by interference from some ugly customers in your urban school's community who develop a dislike for what you do and how you do it. I personally know what it's like to have had urban school community members discover (via the internet) where I lived so they could covertly deliver obscene and threatening notes to my front door while my family slept. Of course, the police were of absolutely no help in finding out the identity of the perpetrators. My wife was deathly afraid to go out of the house after dark for quite a few months afterward.