The advent of the internet has changed the mode of delivery for many courses in the tertiary sector and courses are now offered in an online learning environment with variable success. There has been a range of studies concerning online learning in such environments as university classes online, however there is little research about the role of information technologies in promoting professional learning for teaching practitioners.
Educational practitioners undertake professional development to either develop their skills and knowledge to improve student learning in their classrooms or for promotional reasons. Educational practitioners want to be inspired by their teachers when undertaking professional development. Some researchers point to the relationship between the teacher and the course members as being an important factor in the success of a course. As many professional development courses are being delivered in an online learning environment, the course members never meet the teacher and the teacher needs to develop strategies to allow these relationships to develop. posted online using the resources from a face-to-face course for the course members to download. Now the capabilities of the internet allow for a range of technologies to be used to enhance the learning in an online learning environment.
The aim of my study was to explore the perceptions of educational practitioners who are undertaking an online professional development course.
My study suggests that a pedagogical shift for teaching practitioners can be accomplished in the online learning environment through the online environment design and the teacher taking an active role in the facilitating.
Using the findings from this study, a model for the online learning environment to encourage teaching practitioners to integrate the skills and knowledge into their classrooms to enhance the children’s learning is shown. This model involves a cyclic approach and involves developing skills and knowledge in educational contexts, linking these to relevant theory and reflection on the learning, completing a range of tasks in the course member’s own context, and completing assignments using the skills and knowledge in a classroom setting to enable the course member to see a technology infused classroom in practice. Seeing a lesson where technology is used and seeing the impact that the technology can have on student learning encourages teaching practitioners to employ technology-enhanced teaching strategies. This model aligns with Timperley et al. (2007) who suggest three stages in professional learning processes: cueing and retrieving prior knowledge, becoming aware of new information/skills and integrating them into current values and beliefs system, and creating dissonance with current position.
Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H. & Fung,