Effective online professional learning and development for in-service teachers: a conceptual framework of design considerations

PhD Thesis

Poole, Trisha Louise. 2021. Effective online professional learning and development for in-service teachers: a conceptual framework of design considerations. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/q713x

Effective online professional learning and development for in-service teachers: a conceptual framework of design considerations

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorPoole, Trisha Louise
1. FirstAngela Fitzgerald
2. SecondDr Chris Dann
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages186
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/q713x

Teachers work in an ever-evolving and increasingly complex context, which requires them to continually refresh, extend, and develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities. To achieve this, teachers undertake professional learning and development (PLD) to support their professional growth. Thus, effective PLD is important for teachers, and much research has been conducted to determine the elements of effective in-person PLD, but those for online PLD remain elusive. With the increasing availability of online PLD, the elements of its effectiveness need to be determined in order to support the design of these opportunities. While the literature has identified that technology is a key difference between in-person and online PLD, it is more complex than simply the addition of technology. The very foundation of online PLD is different: the online environment has significantly different affordances and challenges that must be considered. Accordingly, the elements of effective online PLD differ to those for in-person PLD. In this research, the central aim is twofold: to advance the understanding of what constitutes effective online PLD and to support the delivery of this through identifying what should be considered.

Three iterative phases of data collection were undertaken to determine what the empirical literature reports about effective online PLD and what teachers perceive and experience as effective when undertaking online PLD. A systematic literature review was used to investigate the empirical literature, and its findings informed the development of an online survey developed to investigate teachers' preferences, practices, and perceptions of online PLD. The findings from these two data collection phases informed the questions prompts in the semi-structured online focus groups. The findings from the three data collection phases were triangulated, synthesised, and analysed to support the development of the conceptual framework of design considerations for effective online PLD.

The conceptual framework developed through this research presents what constitutes effectiveness in online PLD according to the empirical literature and teachers' perceptions and experiences. It comprises three areas: informing factors, constant design considerations, and variable design considerations. The four informing factors (content, context, purpose, participant) describe the environment within which the online PLD is being undertaken. These informing factors provide information that is used to determine the level of importance and impact of each of the design considerations. The constant design considerations of savings and technology are stable and have a baseline level determined by the informing factors below which teachers consider it to be less effective. The variable design considerations (flexibility, communication, content, human connection, and community) have an overall hierarchy of importance but vary within that according to the informing factors.

The conceptual framework embodies three assertions about online PLD: it is different; it is complex; and it supports teacher agency. The conceptual framework illustrates that online PLD differs significantly to in-person PLD and is a complex, nuanced environment that requires careful consideration of all components. Furthermore, it presents an approach to designing and developing online PLD for effectiveness that deeply embeds the established elements of effective in-person PLD. It also supports teacher agency as a key affordance of the online environment, which further supports effectiveness in PLD.

Keywordsonline professional learning and development, teacher professional learning, conceptual framework, online PLD, effective professional development
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390307. Teacher education and professional development of educators
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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