Online professional development for inservice teachers in Information and Communication Technology: Potentials and challenges

  • George Zhou
  • Stanley Varnhagen
  • Myrna R. Sears
  • Susan Kasprzak
  • Gail Shervey

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate an online professional development course for inservice teachers in the area of information and communication technology (ICT) and concurrently explore the factors that influence online professional development. The study integrated quantitative and qualitative methods including survey, focus group and interview, and was conducted during the progress of the course and approximately nine months after the course was over. Data show that the online delivery of ICT professional development for inservice teachers was successful. However, a learning community was difficult to initiate in an online learning environment. Teacher participants experienced great challenges when applying what they learned from the course into their teaching. The study suggests that further online ICT professional development should incorporate face-to-face sessions and enrol more than one teacher from the same school. Professional development aiming at changes should be considered as an ongoing process and supported with school change. Résumé : L’objet de la présente étude consistait à évaluer un cours de perfectionnement professionnel en ligne pour les enseignants qualifiés dans le domaine des technologies de l’information et de la communication et à étudier les facteurs qui ont de l’influence sur le perfectionnement professionnel en ligne. L’étude a tenu compte de méthodes quantitatives et qualitatives, notamment un sondage, un groupe de discussion et une entrevue réalisée alors que le cours était donné et environ neuf mois après la fin du cours. Les données indiquent que la prestation en ligne du cours sur le perfectionnement professionnel sur les technologies de l’information et de la communication pour les enseignants qualifiés s’est avérée une réussite. Toutefois, il a été difficile d’initier une communauté d’apprentissage au milieu de l’apprentissage en ligne. Les enseignants participant ont éprouvé de grandes difficultés à mettre en pratique dans leur enseignement ce qu’ils avaient appris. L’étude suggère que les prochaines séances de perfectionnement professionnel en ligne sur les technologies de l’information et de la communication devront comprendre des séances en personne et devront être offertes à plus d’un enseignant par école. Le perfectionnement professionnel qui vise des changements devrait être considéré comme un processus continu et appuyé alors que l’école change.

Author Biographies

George Zhou
George Zhou is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Windsor. His current research interests include the use of technology in science education, technology and teacher development, and argument in science education. Correspondence regarding this article can be e-mailed to: gzhou@uwindsor.ca
Stanley Varnhagen
Stanley Varnhagen is currently the Academic Director of Learning Solutions in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta. His unit’s major responsibility is supporting learning projects through the use of evaluation and instructional design. He can be reached at stanley.varnhagen@ualberta.ca
Myrna R. Sears
Myrna R. Sears works in administration and e-learning at the Carey Theological College, on the campus of the University of British Columbia. Her interests focus on instructional technologies and applied educational research. She can be reached at msears@careytheologicalcollege.ca
Susan Kasprzak
Susan Kasprzak holds an M.A. in Social Sciences from Carleton University, and is an experienced program evaluator. At the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Susan is currently leading a two-year evaluation for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and providing consultation in program evaluation to children's mental health professionals across the province.
Gail Shervey
Gail Shervey completed her M.A. in Educational Technology at the University of Calgary. After completing a project which involved designing distance education resources for teachers in western China, Gail is now consulting as an instructional designer and teaching in the University of Calgary's teacher preparation program.
Published
2008-03-12
Section
Articles