of the California Council on Science and Technology.4 The provision of professional development through online media has had a significant influence on the professional lives of a growing number of teachers. Growing numbers of educators contend that online teacher professional development (OTPD) has the potential to enhance and even transform teachers’ effectiveness in their classrooms and over the course of their careers. They also acknowledge that it raises many challenging questions regarding costs, equity, access to technology, quality of materials, and other issues (e.g., Dede et al., 2006).
The workshop had several major goals. It sought to define the boundaries of OTPD, in part by examining online programs that are already in place. (Appendix C contains brief descriptions of several such programs and provides links to other programs that were described or referenced during the workshop.) It explored how online professional development could meet the varied needs of teachers throughout their careers and in a range of settings. The workshop also investigated the drawbacks and barriers to online approaches that have limited them to date and could continue to do so in the future.
Perhaps most important, the workshop was specifically designed to provide significant participation by and input from classroom teachers. Too often the “wisdom of practice” is largely missing from discussions of education research, policy making, and decision making. As Bruce Alberts of the University of California, San Francisco, said, “if you want to know how to make something work better, you go to the people who are doing it, as you do in the automobile industry. We learned from the Japanese that you have to go to the people on the shop floor to figure out how to make a better car. Why we continue not to do that as we should in the field of education is beyond me.” Both the National Academies and the California TACs were founded and operate on the premise that teachers must have a voice in shaping what they do in their classrooms, the resources that are available to them, the policies that enhance student learning, and the future of the teaching profession itself.
Presenters at the workshop reviewed the relevant research undertaken to date and outlined future research that needs to be pursued. Participants also discussed what teachers, administrators, and policy makers at the local, state, and federal levels need to do to make much more widespread and effective use of these approaches. Although the programs and examples cited in the workshop focused primarily on professional development for teachers of mathematics, science, and technology, it should be
Additional information about the California Council on Science and Technology is available at http://www.ccst.us.