Professional Development

Can the Web Save Professional Development?

By Anthony Rebora — September 21, 2009 1 min read

Six or seven years ago, I was assigned to write a piece for Education Week’s Web site summarizing the latest research on teacher professional development. Somewhat to my surprise, I found that there was a great deal of consensus among researchers and other experts on the qualities of effective teacher-learning activities. The studies and articles I reviewed stressed the need for collaboration, teacher inquiry, practical instructional tasks, relevant subject matter, and consistent follow-up.

Unfortunately, the experts also agreed that professional development defined by these traits wasn’t exactly flourishing in schools. For financial and structural reasons, schools were still tied to the one-shot workshop model, which pretty much no one seemed to like.

The piece I wrote didn’t mention the use of interactive technology for teacher-learning activities, because at the time such programs were in their infancy. But since then, of course, online professional development initiatives have mushroomed. Online courses, webinars, discussion groups, social networks, blogs, wikis, and Web-based workspaces have all assumed prominent spots in the teacher-PD lexicon.

And in light of that research consensus I wrote about, it’s not hard to see their attraction for teachers: Digital platforms harbor the potential to support learning experiences that are inherently personalized, interactive, and sustained. Because of their flexibility and convenience, meanwhile, they can often be readily integrated into educators’ professional lives.

You have to wonder: Can digital technology help break the decades-long hold of generic “sit-‘n-git” professional development? That is the question underlying this issue of the Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook.

The core of the answer, I think, is provided by Harvard ed-tech professor Chris Dede in our interview with him: “Only if people use the tools well.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2009 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Washington Data Processing Representative - (WAVA)
Tacoma, Washington, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Proposal Writer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Whitepaper
Developing Professional Practices to Improve Student Outcomes Through Professional Learning Communities
This paper outlines the most effective ways for educators to develop their professional practices and improve student outcomes through pr...
Content provided by Learning Ally
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Whitepaper
COVID's Impact on K-12 Teaching and Learning
See more survey results and learn what other educators are prioritizing for 2021.
Content provided by Whetstone Education
Professional Development What Do Principals Want From Professional Development?
Only about a quarter of elementary school principals say they've had access to a mentor or coach in the last two years, a new report finds.
5 min read
Image shows a silhouette of a person learning, and the components to make that work is represented by gears.
iStock/Getty
Professional Development Q&A How to Bring 'Surprise and Delight' to Virtual Teacher Training During COVID-19
Dyane Smokorowski wants people who run PD sessions to make them so engaging that educators get FOMO if they don't sign up.
8 min read
pickleball IMG
Getty Images