Research agenda for online teacher professional development.In September September: see month. of 2005, the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College
Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 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 Milwaukee (mĭlwŏk`ē), city (1990 pop. 628,088), seat of Milwaukee co., SE Wis., at the point where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers enter Lake Michigan; inc. 1846. Professional Support Portal (Spicer Spi´cer
n. 1. One who seasons with spice.
2. One who deals in spice. & Dede, 2006) and the Inquiry Learning Forum (Barnett Barnett as a personal name can refer to:
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 Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , 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 im·part
tr.v. im·part·ed, im·part·ing, im·parts
1. To grant a share of; bestow: impart a subtle flavor; impart some advice.
2. it to others in a way that is comprehensible com·pre·hen·si·ble
Readily comprehended or understood; intelligible.
[Latin compreh can be a challenge. Therefore, the mentors and experts need extensive training in online interactions, pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.
2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner. 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 continuing education: see adult education.
or adult education
Any form of learning provided for adults. In the U.S. the University of Wisconsin was the first academic institution to offer such programs (1904). 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 riddle, puzzling question, specifically one that consists of a fanciful description or definition of something to be guessed. A famous riddle was asked by the Sphinx: "What goes on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, on three at night?" Oedipus guessed the (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 val·i·date
tr.v. val·i·dat·ed, val·i·dat·ing, val·i·dates
1. To declare or make legally valid.
2. To mark with an indication of official sanction.
3. , while those who come from a supportive school seek out oTPD to find ideas for improving their teaching and their students' learning. Understanding these motivations can help creators of oTPD establish communities of practices that meet the various needs of teachers.
Implications for Teacher Education
Many people believe that online learning will be an important vehicle for teacher and student learning in the future (Lock, 2006; Simpson Simp·son , Sir James Young 1811-1870.
British obstetrician and a founder of gynecology. He is also known for introducing the use of chloroform as an anesthetic. , 2006; Davis & Roblyer, 2005). If this is the case, then teacher education programs need to help new teachers build the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for online teaching and learning. Teaching in a virtual environment is not an area addressed in many teacher licensure licensure
(lī´snsh programs. The focus of such programs, by necessity, is on face-to-face learning. If online learning is addressed, it is from the point of view of the preservice teacher as learner. However, if online learning is to become a major part of students' lives, then preservice teachers must also have experience teaching in a virtual environment.
If online teacher professional development is to be the future, one must ask: Will teacher education/higher education view oTPD as an opportunity, diversion A turning aside or altering of the natural course or route of a thing. The term is chiefly applied to the unauthorized change or alteration of a water course to the prejudice of a lower riparian, or to the unauthorized use of funds. , or competition? This is a difficult question to answer as the outcome will depend on multiple factors. Some universities have already begun to see oTPD as an opportunity and are either partnering with others to develop high quality oTPD or are creating their own structured programs. Other universities see oTPD as a competition, especially if such programs are being run by a for-profit business or a diploma-mill university. Online teacher development programs exist, and teachers are actively involved in them. If teacher education programs want to continue to be involved with inservice activities, then they must view oTPD as an opportunity and not a diversion.
Online teacher professional development can also serve as a bridge between preservice education, new teacher support, and continuing teacher development. Teacher retention is a problem that affects many, if not all, school districts. Research has shown that nearly 33% of all new teachers leave teaching within their first three years, and almost 50% leave within the first five years (Walker, 2003). Providing new teachers with ongoing peer support through mentoring and coaching is one way to reduce teacher attrition Attrition
The reduction in staff and employees in a company through normal means, such as retirement and resignation. This is natural in any business and industry.
Notes: . Online professional development portals can help with establishing these relationships (Spicer & Dede, 2006; Bull, et al. 2006), but further research is needed to fully assess their impact on teacher retention.
Further Research Questions
The purpose of this editorial was to establish a research agenda for oTPD. The articles in this issue address various aspects of this agenda. This editorial has also raised some research questions. However, there are still many more questions that need to be asked. Some of these questions include:
* What is the depth and scope really required in professional development to allow for fundamental shifts in practice and to have an impact on K-12 students' learning? How do we know what's working?
* How do contextual factors and barriers to change prevent teacher transformation from occurring even when the oTPD program has an impact? What factors in the school need to be overcome in order for the oTPD to have an impact on K-12 students' learning?
* What patterns of transformation in teachers do we see after they engage in professional development? Are they assimilating as·sim·i·late
v. as·sim·i·lat·ed, as·sim·i·lat·ing, as·sim·i·lates
a. To consume and incorporate (nutrients) into the body after digestion.
b. the information or are they accommodating changes in their practice?
* What is the extent to which teacher professional development can teach (and K-12 students can learn) 21st century skills while also preparing teachers (and students) in the era of No Child Left Behind and standardized tests A standardized test is a test administered and scored in a standard manner. The tests are designed in such a way that the "questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent"  ?
* What is the value of "blended" learning? What does face-to-face add to online programs, and what does online add to face-to-face programs?
* What impact will emerging technologies (such as blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds Summaries of Web site content that are published in the RSS format for download. See RSS. ) have on oTPD? Will these technologies allow teachers to take more ownership of their own learning? If so, under what conditions?
Some of these questions are not easy to address. They force us to look beyond technology as a savior to the woes of education and, instead, to examine the potential and limitations of both technology and our own understandings of learning. However, if online teacher professional development is truly to have an impact on teaching and learning then we, as a field, must be willing to wrestle with these questions.
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Walker, S. (2003). Let's hold on to what we've got: A national commission on teaching and America's future report looks at the problem of teacher attrition. Virginia Virginia, state, United States
Virginia, state of the south-central United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), North Carolina and Tennessee (S), Kentucky and West Virginia (W), and Maryland and the District of Columbia (N and NE). Journal of Education, 96(8), 11-15.
DEBRA DEBRA Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America SPRAGUE, JTATE JTATE Journal of Technology and Teacher Education EDITOR
George Mason University Named after American revolutionary, patriot and founding father George Mason, the university was founded as a branch of the University of Virginia in 1957 and became an independent institution in 1972. , USA