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Pros & Cons of Online Professional Development for Teachers

John Davis Jr.

Pros & Cons of Online Professional Development for Teachers

Is there any better way to get your PD requirements done than at home in your pajamas? Let's weigh the pros & cons to find out.

In the world of 21st-Century educators, there are tons of online opportunities for professional development (PD). The cost and programming may vary, but the online professional development option deserves the consideration of busy teachers.

 

Local Online Professional Development Options

One venue that teachers typically underuse is their local or area educational consortium. In some states, these consortia have different names – associations, centers, or even “systems.” No matter what they are called, however, they can offer valuable (and often free) professional development online.

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Here in the state of Florida, the most worthwhile online PD experience I have had personally was through the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC). Their online courses cover every subject, every grade, and every professional need that an educator may have, and the courses are free to certified teachers. The better part of my last summer break was spent gaining valuable professional development hours for re-certification through PAEC. By using their online system, I was still able to enjoy summer vacation while professionally benefitting myself.

Is Your Learning Style Suited for Online PD? 

Success in using such online professional development depends upon your learning style, however. If you as a teacher learn best from direct instruction, the technological equivalent may not be your thing. It lacks the humanity of a face-to-face encounter, and if something isn’t totally understood, no one is there to “look over your shoulder” and help you out. However, the PD segments do appeal to visual, verbal/linguistic, and even auditory learners, depending on the program used.

Online PD (especially full courses or grad programs) is often self-directed, so online might not be the right choice for you if you struggle with deadlines and motivating yourself without the pressure of physically showing up to class.

Try PD360 or Other Online PD Websites 

Another such online source for gaining credit hours and PD points is found through the popular site PD360.com. This site requires an initial investment by school systems or individuals, but the intense video tutorials, understanding checkpoints, and quizzes make it worth the money for school faculty and staff members.

The great thing about a site like PD360 is that educators may move at their own pace through the various courses presented. If a teacher is highly motivated, it is possible to gain hundreds of PD hours over the course of one academic year. If, however, a teacher is overburdened with academic duties and has limited time for PD, the program is set up in a very user-friendly way to accommodate each learner’s needs.

The Downside of Online PD 

One drawback of using sites like PD360 that I have found is the incessant buffering. You know the drill if you use sites like YouTube or Teachertube.com very often: You are prepared to view a video, and you get roughly fifteen seconds into it, when the annoying “buffering” message comes up as the next portion of video loads. To be totally fair, one could simply hit the “pause” button and wait for the entire segment to get completely loaded before proceeding, but in today’s hectic world, who has time for that? I would not be dissuaded from using PD360 simply because of buffering, however. The course content is well worth the wait.

 

Whether you choose to use a local online PD site, or whether you opt for something a bit more universal like PD360, the positives of online learning far outweigh the negatives. And trying your hand at online PD could be just the thing you need to re-motivate yourself as the end-of-the-year doldrums approach.

Agree/Disagree? Have you tried online PD programs? Share your faves or your experience in the comments section!

If you're looking for on-site PD for your school, TeachHUB can help. Check out the details on our Professional Development page.

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