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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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Online-Learning Communities: The Next Generation of Professional Development

By Melinda George - Posted Nov 1, 2007
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Educators have an unwavering passion for their work, but they need ongoing support in order to thrive in today’s demanding school environment. Every day they must adapt their teaching to the diverse needs of students, while at the same time adopting new technologies, changing education policies, and handling reform efforts. To meet rising expectations, educators actively seek professional development to deepen their content knowledge and improve their instructional skills. Yet, every educator has different skill sets, goals, and challenges at various times in their professional lives, so their desire for information, knowledge, expertise, and technical competence varies accordingly. No one professional development offering is appropriate for all.

Online professional development provides educators with an effective, efficient way to reach their professional and personal goals as well as pursue lifelong learning ­opportunities.

With the growth of Web technologies, the availability of high-quality professional development for educators has increased significantly. Now educators have access to a greater depth and breadth of graduate-level coursework than they may have had in other professional development settings.

Moreover, online courses expose educators to the same technologies that they must incorporate into their teaching. The online learning format lends itself well to blending subject-area content with technology integration strategies. Educators learn how to incorporate technology into the curriculum in ways that enhance student learning.

Educators also need more time to collaborate with colleagues in their area and across the country. Building an online professional-learning community helps educators to sharpen their skills, identify new strategies, and lessen the feeling of isolation often inherent to education.

There are numerous benefits to professional development for educators, including increased job satisfaction, career advancement, better pay, and improved student learning. However, there are significant challenges that often impede them from pursuing opportunities that will contribute to their growth, such as convenience and affordability. Professional development delivered in an online-learning environment removes many of the constraints associated with traditional forms of professional development.

Accessible and Affordable...

This article is available in its entirety in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE.


 
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