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Educator Shares Insight on Benefits of Online Professional Development

Dr. Denise Douglas-Faraci, adjunct faculty with Kaplan University's School of Education, shared some insight with Education World on why learning professional development online is a great option for educators looking to develop their skills.

Dr. Douglas-Faraci has been in education for the past 30 years and is actively researching technology instruction and curriculum and how effective e-learning is in professional development for teachers.

She believes that taking professional development courses online is the best way for teachers to advance their careers in master's programs or to earn PD credits, and feels online offerings give teachers the most resources available when learning a particular subject.

"In terms of learning experiences in online courses, teacher-participants can engage in a collegial learning circle, collaborations for planning purposes, [share] interesting resources and content with fellow participants, and [update] technology and professional skills," Dr. Douglas-Faraci said.

Because e-learning exposes teachers to a variety of multi-media sources, Dr. Douglas-Faraci says that teachers are likely to get the most out of their professional development courses.

"Differentiated instruction requires a variety of multi-media materials. E-Learning offers multiple ways of presenting and creating materials electronically such as graphics, audio, video, and animation; accommodates individual learning styles," she said.

" In 2008, I conducted a study of online professional development for teachers. A significant finding of the study was that the e-Learning offers multiple ways of presenting materials electronically such as graphics, audio, video, and animation; accommodates individual learning styles; and uses of a variety of technologies."

It's also a great way for teachers to learn without compromising busy schedules and allowing for a ton of flexibility, she said.

For teachers pursuing their master's degree while working full time or even just looking to pick up professional development credits, e-learning can be an easy way to do so.

"Online learning offers the features of flexibility of choice, time, and easy access to accommodate busy teachers’ schedules" and "is flexible curriculum that offers support just when needed," she said.

To get started, Dr. Douglas-Faraci offered educators some resources to consider when setting professional development goals while learning online:

"Teachers might visit the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) website to peruse NETS Standards for Teachers to inform e-Learning choices.

Other professional standards to consider are: The American Psychological Association (APA) Learner-Centered Psychological Principles, 1997; The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (2001); The National Staff Development Council (NSDC) Standards for Staff Development (2001a) and Standards for e-Learning Professional Development (2001b); and The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Standards for Online Staff Development, 2004," she said.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor