Online teacher professional development has the same effect on student learning and teacher behavior as more traditional face-to-face models, according to a new research study to be published next month by the Journal of Teacher Education.
The study, which controlled for factors such as teacher experience and student demographics, compared the experiences of teachers charged with implementing a new high school environmental science curriculum. One group of teachers in the study participated in 48 hours of face-to-face workshops spread over six days, while their counterparts worked at their own pace through an online workshop covering the same content.
In both groups, the researchers found, "Teachers reported increased confidence with new curriculum materials, enacted those materials consistently with curriculum designers' intent, and their students learned from curriculum successfully and in equal amounts."
Barry Fishman, an Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Michigan, served as a lead investigator on the study, which was funded primarily by the National Science Foundation.
Fishman said that administrators and policymakers should see the findings as further evidence that online teacher professional development, while no silver bullet, can be a viable alternative to the traditional model.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc