Online PD Courses Help Educators Understand Ed-Tech, Classroom Management, Study Finds

Associate Editor
Source: "2016 Results from the SIIA Vision K-20 Professional Learning Survey" Report

The three biggest reasons pre-K-12 educators took online professional development courses in the past year were to learn how to use digital devices, how to use the educational software that goes on them, or to find out more about classroom behavior or management, according to a new study.

Nearly 60 percent of 589 preK-12 educators surveyed enrolled in professional courses online, according to a study by the Educational Technology Industry Network, a division of the Software & Information Industry Network.

Of these, 75 percent took online and/or blended courses because they have a personal interest in the topic, or hoped to gain additional knowledge about it, the 2016 SIIA Vision K-20 Professional Learning Survey found. Only 28 percent said it was for a job requirement, and about 46 percent said they did so to receive continuing education credit. The report was released exclusively to EdWeek Market Brief today, and will be given wider distribution Tuesday.

“Our goal with this study was to find out, ‘Are [educators] taking online professional learning courses?’ and if so, who’s taking them, what are they taking, and why,” according to Nycole Stawinoga, the education policy and program manager for ETIN. The last time the ed-tech division of the software organization looked at the online course market was about a year ago. The study at that time placed the value of the market at $800 million as of  2012-13. But that estimate focused on online courses for students, not teachers.

Online PD Course Findings

Study respondents were given 20 choices for the professional learning course topics they had enrolled in over the past year. Each educator could respond in as many subject areas as they had taken courses. The top five topics and the percentage of participants were:

  • Classroom behavior, classroom management: 34 percent
  • Training for education software, digital applications, digital program, other digital product: 34 percent
  • Training for electronic/digital devices: 33 percent
  • Reading, English/Language Arts: 30 percent
  • Training for student assessments: 27 percent

Who provided the professional online learning course? Respondents named these providers:

  • Educational institutions: 60 percent
  • Online community: 60 percent
  • Company/vendor: 29 percent
  • Conference organizer: 13 percent

Most often selected tools used to teach the professional learning courses were:

  • Videos: 76 percent
  • Discussion forum: 73 percent
  • Audio: 72 percent
  • Quizzes/assessments: 68 percent
  • Slides: 64 percent

The educators enrolled in online courses for the following reasons:

  • Personal interest, knowledge: 75 percent
  • Continuing education credit: 46 percent
  • Job requirement: 28 percent
  • Salary increase: 16 percent
  • To receive a digital badge: 10 percent

The study was not a random sampling, but the ETIN said it represents a wide range of participants, with educators from every state. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents indicate they learned about the survey through, an online K-12 community.

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