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Online Professional Development
Professional development has caught on over the past few years and now school districts are taking it even further by creating online and hybrid professional development programs. There are now a number of different programs being implemented by schools across the country and they have so far been successful. Also, if technology is increasingly used by students, it makes sense that educators have the same opportunity with their education.
Online professional development programs save schools money by not having to hire substitute teachers or pay travel or material costs; however, teachers welcome these online programs as it allows them to take their classes at times that are easier for them and allow them to take away more information as they are in the right frame of mind to learn the material. . This means teachers can turn around and incorporate the material into their lesson plans the next day.
Colleges of education are also jumping on the bandwagon and creating a number of online or hybrid professional development courses for educators. They saw growing demand and agreed that online non-degree programs would make more sense than delivering courses to people, in part because of the very nature of the current college of education structure.
“We are an academic program. We are not designed for [face-to-face] workshops in any way,” said Lisa Dawley, professor of educational technology at Boise State University in Idaho.
Dawley and his teammates recently launched an online professional development program in August. The online program is designed to provide K-12 educators and administrators with access to three-week, instructor-led, online workshops that cover courses such as Fusing Technology in the Classroom. Dawley said the program will also expand to provide teachers with workshops that address Common Core Standards for the state of Idaho.
Arizona State University has also created its own version of online professional development for teachers. In 2006, the university partnered with the state department of education and produced the IDEAL program, which stands for Integrated Data to Enhance Arizona Learning. The program offers online courses to develop teachers’ teaching skills in areas such as language arts, math, science, technology integration, classroom management, and English as a second language. Classes typically last six to eight weeks and cost around $65.
“We have long known that the best professional development is embedded in employment and sustained within [instructors’] free time and accessible to individuals as well,” said Rick Baker, Associate Director of IDEAL.
In addition to local colleges of education, school districts host their own version of online professional development. Mark Hess, executive director of instruction, technology and assessment for Michigan’s Walled Lake District, is looking to the online world to enhance his educators’ professional development experiences through blended programs . Its program includes the formation of a video library that shows expert teachers demonstrating a number of different teaching techniques. The video library will be paired with the district’s traditional one-week face-to-face workshop next year. Hess’ hope is that teachers will come into the traditional workshop with more knowledge from the videos and the workshop will be used for more discussion and interaction than teaching.
Another online professional development program making waves is Channel One, which recently partnered with Promethean Inc. These two companies have created a program that will be piloted this month at Ashland Elementary School. of Prince William County, Virginia. Each class in the school will receive an interactive whiteboard, provided by Promethean, which will broadcast daily shows and give students various lessons and quizzes, while Promethean will give teachers short daily tutorials on how to use various whiteboard tools and improving teaching methods with the interactive whiteboard.
The Channel One program will provide teachers with a list of professional development options that will highlight a “skill of the day”, such as integrating various online tools such as Google Docs into lessons or creating digital assessments. All tutorials will be kept online for an educator to peek and review the material.
“So many teachers come back from a traditional professional development session, and they only remember a very small part, only what they were ready to get and grab,” said Shannon Kula, head of educational solutions for Promethean. “This delivers it in bite-size pieces and it’s customizable.”
So, with the ever-increasing demand for professional development online, it looks like we’ll see more and more companies like Channel One offering programs for schools. Hopefully, this new way to grow professionally will give teachers the flexibility they seek and give them resources to improve their techniques in the classroom.
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