Research Agenda for Online Teacher Professional Development

By Sprague, Debra | Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Research Agenda for Online Teacher Professional Development


Sprague, Debra, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education


In September of 2005, the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University hosted a conference designed to explore online teacher professional development (oTPD). During the two day conference, the participants explored 10 models of oTPD. The ultimate goal of the conference was to establish a research agenda for oTPD, as little is known about the effectiveness of these programs or ways in which these models can influence teacher education programs. This special issue of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education continues that exploration.

**********

There are several models available for online teacher professional development. Some of these models, such as the Milwaukee Professional Support Portal (Spicer & Dede, 2006) and the Inquiry Learning Forum (Barnett, 2006), are formal and developed through multiple partnerships. Some are designed by a university and lead to a formal degree or certificate program (Esprivalo Harrell & Harris, 2006). Other models are less formal and involve the use of a variety of tools, including case studies (Paulus & Roberts, 2006) or e-mail and discussion boards (Parr, 2006), or course websites (Friedman, 2006) supplementing face-to-face professional development programs. However, all of these models have the same goal in mind ... to improve teachers' understanding of learning and to change their teaching practice.

How do we know if these programs are effective in achieving this goal? How do we know if the oTPD has an impact on teachers' practice? What are the issues that such programs raise in terms of inservice and preservice teacher education? What questions should we, as a field, be asking as we implement oTPD? The articles in this issue attempt to answer some of these questions.

Opportunities and Challenges for Learning

Online teacher professional development models provide high quality learning opportunities. Teachers have access to experts in a given field. They are able to collaborate with others. Online learning allows time for reflection and for dialogue. It allows for flexibility in scheduling, timing, and the development of one's own learning spaces. In other words, it can be empowering as teachers take ownership of their own learning.

However, there are also challenges involved with oTPD. Experts in a given field are not always the best teachers. Although they may understand the content, imparting it to others in a way that is comprehensible can be a challenge. Therefore, the mentors and experts need extensive training in online interactions, pedagogical knowledge, and best teaching practices for the given content area.

Designers of oTPD environments also face the challenge of balancing resources on demand, in which the content is available but teachers have to go and find it on their own, with building and sustaining a learning community. Resources on demand have the initial cost of building and creating the environment, while sustaining a learning community requires ongoing continuous support to be effective. Finding the right balance between both is an area of research yet to be explored. This is an important issue because it is unclear as to what is the required depth and scope of oTPD that will allow for real shifts in practice that have an impact on K-12 students' learning.

There is also a need to understand what motivates teachers to seek out online professional development opportunities. For some, the programs are mandated by their school district or university. For others, the need to obtain continuing education credit is the motivator. Some teachers voluntarily seek out such opportunities. Understanding teachers' motivation and needs can help with the design and creation of oTPD environments. Riddle (2004) found that teachers who voluntarily participate in oTPD are influenced by their school climate: Those who come from a controlling school with little support seek out oTPD to have their ideas validated, while those who come from a supportive school seek out oTPD to find ideas for improving their teaching and their students' learning. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Research Agenda for Online Teacher Professional Development
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.