Taking Professional Development Online: Does It Measure Up?

What did you do online today? From meeting new people to paying your bills, to buying a book, to looking for a new home, many activities that we once associated with physical spaces are now being conducted from the comfort of our living rooms. How many of your daily activities now take place in virtual spaces? Is online professional development (PD) one of these activities? According to a recent study published in the Journal of Teacher Education online PD can be an effective tool for teacher learning. Both students and teachers experienced significant benefits and gains in terms of teacher knowledge and beliefs, classroom practice, and student learning outcomes, regardless of whether PD took place online or face-to-face. As more PD resources become available on the Internet, the options for personal and professional development online are nearly limitless. From International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) learning events in Second Life to full self-paced online courses such as PBS TeacherLine, there are a number of options for schools looking for ways to make the move to virtual PD. You can also combine online materials such as those offered by PowerUp or Achieve the Core (for PD targeted to Common Core State Standards implementation) to craft mixed-methods PD that is tailored to suit your school’s context. In a blended or hybrid approach, teachers spend some time online in independent or small-group self-study and some time in more traditional face-to-face learning. Of course, any PD, whether face-to-face, online, or a mix of both, needs to be well planned and suited to your teachers’ needs to be effective. Download our Technology Implementation Practice Guide for suggestions, planning guidance, and resources to help you plan stellar professional learning opportunities for your teachers! Are you making use of online PD in your school? What resources are you using? Share your experiences in the comments! Acknowledgment: Special thanks to Lina Breslav for helping to prepare this blog post. 

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