During the past school year, the Department of Education (DE) teaching staff participated in a variety of training and professional development activities and evaluative measures to develop technopedagogical skills and competencies that support the creation of learning scenarios that are attuned to the new educational reality. In this way, the ED validates the effectiveness of professional development initiatives aimed at enabling educators to more effectively integrate technology in the classroom.

"The majority of teachers, other support staff, as well as DE school principals, will know the extent to which the various strategies used in the course of the DE-Innova Project contributed to changing perceptions of technology in education, confidence and comfort in using technology, and increased integration of various technology tools in educational practices," said Dr Odette Piñeiro Caballero, chief executive officer of Global Education Exchange Opportunities (GEEO), the company in charge of the evaluation and self-directed learning process of this project.

Piñeiro Caballero recalled that DE-Innova was implemented to increase the resilience of the public education system after the impact of Hurricane Maria through RESTART funds.

"In implementing this project, starting in April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we collaborated with all educators in the system to ensure access to and use of technology, starting with teachers, so that they in turn could transfer their technological skills to their students. To achieve this goal, at the beginning of the last school year, educators not only received computers, but also administered the Technology Use and Perception Questionnaire to measure the level of their technological competencies and skills, which resulted in the design of an Individual Technopedagogical Plan (ITP). This plan included a professional development pathway tied to one of three levels of technology integration (introductory, adoption/adaptation and infusion/transformation). At the end of the school year, educators' performance was measured again, and whether they had progressed from one level to another," she said.

He added that the first assessment determined the techno-pedagogical level of each participant and with that information an ecosystem of 22 micro-credentials by competencies was articulated and made available. Educators took training according to their level of technological integration, their role in the system and the equipment they would have available. At the end of the professional development cycle, a second assessment was conducted to measure the progress of more than 22,000 educators who participated in this initiative.

The results obtained, according to Piñeiro Caballero, "are extraordinarily impressive and are a reflection of the professionalism and commitment of Puerto Rican educators.

He assured that educators, within their responsibilities, dedicated time for learning and that this resulted in a reduction of the group of teachers who were at the introductory level, which is basically when the teacher integrates technology into teaching, but is the only one who uses it actively without allowing students to interact with it. On the other hand, there was a marked increase in the infusion/transformation level, which emphasises more collaborative learning in which the students choose the technological tools used in class and the teacher serves more as a guide.

According to the former education secretary, one of the advantages of making this assessment available is that it will allow the leadership of the public education system and teacher preparation programmes to make better decisions.

"Now the ED knows most of the teachers (teachers, principals, social workers, counsellors, among others), who needs more support, who has more competencies in optimising the use of technology for instructional processes at all levels, among others. Therefore, you can be more effective in designing professional development strategies for educators that go directly to the needs that need to be addressed without wasting time, money and resources," said Piñeiro Caballero.

Finally, he described the process as one where everyone in the education system, and the community at large, has had a gain.

"We all really won here. Our educators gained new knowledge and competences in the process, for the first time aligned to their reality as professionals. Principals in their school's TechnoPedagogical Profile (TEP) know who needs more or less support in their faculty. The ED now knows where its educators are in order to establish the necessary scaffolding so that all students have equal access to the use and integration of technology in the teaching process. The next step is to ensure that the uses are of quality and meaningful in order to insert ourselves into the fourth technological revolution worldwide. On the other hand, GEEO, as well as other companies that were part of the DE-Innova project, now know how effective we were in supporting the DE in its goal of building a new techno-educational culture," she said.

All educators who participated in this project can view their Individual Technopedagogical Plan (ITP) through the link www.geeopr.app and in the services section you can see the aggregated results of the project. Additional information can also be requested by calling (787) 621-6777.