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PD & Training Preferences

Recently, I surveyed the faculty of my district regarding their needs and preferences towards technology related professional development and training. The results for one particular question intrigued me. When asked ‘What method of instruction would you prefer regarding technology training and professional development this year?‘, their responses break down as follows:

Face to face training held after school 19 37%
A combination of face to face training and online instruction through Schoology 19 37%
Online instruction to be completed during your own time 13 25%
Other 1 2%

So, what I notice from the data is that the majority of the respondents prefer at least some time during the training process for face-to-face opportunities regarding professional development. Based on my experiences with professional development, both as a participant and a presenter, I can verify that having this opportunity to engage with other participants and the presenter, ask questions and address any concerns is critical to the learning and development process. I am not surprised to learn that others feel this way as well, and that they would prefer the training they participate in to reflect this.

What did surprise me, however, is that more staff did not choose the blended option that calls for half of the training time to be spent online and half spent face-to-face. The cause for my surprise comes from the fact that the online option would allow for staff to complete half of the training on their own time and from any location, including the comfort of their own home. Face-to-face training extends the working day, and cuts into time that teachers could be spending grading papers, creating lesson plans, or carrying out other daily teaching responsibilities. My initial thought was that if we gave the option to teachers to complete the training at a time that is convenient to them they would be all over it. Hmm…apparently, I was mistaken.

What I take away from this data is that although online training may lend itself to accommodating a teacher’s busy schedule, this takes a backseat to the experience that one gets from one-on-one or small-group instruction. It becomes apparent that in many people’s eyes an online-based course can not match the experience that one gets from being ‘in the classroom’. You hear this from educators in secondary and postsecondary environments all the time, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that it transfers over to faculty development. Although I do not agree with this sentiment, I value the insight it provides.

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