Magazine article Technology & Learning

Can Online Courses Help Fix Teacher Professional Development?

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Can Online Courses Help Fix Teacher Professional Development?

Article excerpt

If we've heard it once, we've heard it a thousand times: professional development is broken.

Schools want their educators to learn and grow, but in many places professional development is severely limited or even nonexistent. Where schools aren't able to provide personalized, high-quality professional development, they can offset this deficiency by encouraging and supporting enrollment in online professional development courses. These courses are readily available, offer content that's relevant to most 21st-century educators, and allow for anytime, anywhere, self-paced, personalized learning. Course topics range from makerspaces to design thinking and professional book studies.

Many educators have been taking online courses on their own initiative to acquire new knowledge to enhance their professional practice. School leaders can harness this kind of learning to serve the needs and goals of their districts by, for example, partnering up with organizations such as Participate, S&S Worldwide, and Code.org. Many districts have also begun to provide opportunities for professional learning during the school day. Unfortunately, however, many districts have yet to embrace online professional learning.

Online professional development courses offer many advantages: the cost is often lower than attending an event; they can be completed during the school day, making them less disruptive than traditional courses; and the content often covers more than what can be provided at a local, district level. …

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