DISCOVERING UTILIZATION PATTERNS IN AN ONLINE K-12 TEACHER PROFESSIONAL?N DEVELOPMENT PLATFORM: Clustering and Data Visualization Methods

By Leung, Javier | Quarterly Review of Distance Education, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

DISCOVERING UTILIZATION PATTERNS IN AN ONLINE K-12 TEACHER PROFESSIONAL?N DEVELOPMENT PLATFORM: Clustering and Data Visualization Methods


Leung, Javier, Quarterly Review of Distance Education


INTRODUCTION

With increased access to the Internet, teachers have access to multiple opportunities for teacher professional development (PD) online. Carter (2004) identified four characteristics of a successful online teacher professional development: 24/7 access to online resources; community of learners; community of practice; and professional support. Each of these characteristics is designed to support the immediate PD needs of teachers through online self-paced resources.

The EdHub Library is an online PD platform for K-12 teachers and school administrators maintained by the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The EdHub Library is part of the Network of Educator Effectiveness (NEE). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initially funded the EdHub Library in 2014 in partnership with the University of Missouri-Columbia. NEE is a comprehensive educator evaluation system that tracks multiple measures of educator effectiveness, including classroom observation of teachers, units of instruction, professional development plans, and student surveys (Network for Educator Effectiveness, n.d.).

Similar large online PD platforms exist, such as PE Central and MyTeachingPartner. PE Central is an online professional development platform for physical education teachers. With 162,000 visitors, PE Central provides lesson plans, best practices, classroom management, use of technology, and assessment ideas (Hanson, Pennington, Prusak, & Wilkinson, 2017). MyTeachingPartner is another example of online self-paced resources where teachers have access to three types of resources that aim to improve teacher-student interactions: a video library of best practices of teacher-student interactions, a college course, and individualized web-mediated coaching sessions (MyTeachingPartner, 2017).

The purpose of the EdHub Library is to support K-12 teachers, principals, university teaching assistants, and teacher prep students in the advancement of best practices in teaching and learning in PK-12 and higher education levels (EdHub Library, n.d.). School districts with a subscription to NEE have access to a video library of best practices in classroom teaching, a video library of examples for scoring classroom observations, a catalog of self-paced online modules, copyrighted assessment instruments, and yearly principal calibration training.

In the EdHub Library, teachers can browse online resources from a list of topics and search content organized by teacher standards. EdHub can be accessed directly on the homepage at www.theedhub.org or through the NEE online teacher evaluation tool that tracks multiple measures of teacher effectiveness. Online resources are presented in modules with several activities that prompt teachers to reflect on their teaching practices or generate new ideas on instructional strategies for classroom implementation using the journal feature. Teachers have control over sharing journal entries with school administrators and reviewing their activity history from the user dashboard. In addition to the site features available to teachers, school administrators have administrative permissions that allow them to review teacher activity and control access within the school group.

While we know about the purpose of the website and how many users are registered on EdHub, little is known about what users do once they are on the website. The purpose of this study is to discover the utilization patterns of content and site features using a clustering method and data visualization from 460,721 records available from October 2015 to February 2017.

Google Analytics (GA) data are collected in the form of dimensions and metrics using a script embedded in the site and online resources. Dimensions are qualitative attributes of the data such as the page, type of browser, and location. Metrics are quantitative measures of data such as time spent and number of views of a page. To make sense of the data collected, combining dimensions and metrics generates insights from user interactions with online resources and platform features. …

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