BUILDING SUPPORT AMONG ADMINISTRATORS AND POLICY MAKERS

Administrators and policy makers especially need to be convinced of the value or potential of online professional development. Involving administrators in online communities was suggested by Deborah Smith, who asked, “How can we get principals and administrators into an online professional development program that would help them build a vision that would be shared and collaborative?” “If you can’t get past the building principal and the downtown administrator, this is not going to happen. … You absolutely need someone who not only values but understands what you are doing.”

Beyond administrators, policy makers need to be aware of the potential for online professional development to make a difference in the professional lives of teachers. Barnet Berry asked, “How can teachers, especially our very best teachers across the country, provide a huge important bridge to the policy world to bring their expertise and voice to the deliberations about their profession?”

“We would like policy makers to set up mechanisms to more effectively listen to teachers’ voices and choices about online professional development,” said California Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) member Juliana Jones, a middle school teacher in Berkeley, California. In particular, if policy makers were able to experience an engaging online course, they would be more likely to provide teachers with the time and resources needed for online learning.

Embracing OTPD means that policy makers and administrators must give up some measure of control over professional development decisions, said Sherri Andrews of the North Carolina School of the Arts in Thomasville. “Administrators have to be able to give up the fact that they want to tell us what we need to do and when we need to do it.” Also, the technology is changing so quickly that administrators and policy makers will need to involve teachers in making strategic decisions about the best possible uses of what is available. For example, although the Internet is the source of most online courses today, new technologies, such as immersive learning environments that are now part of online video gaming technologies, may someday supersede today’s offerings.

PROVIDING TEACHERS WITH ACCESS TO ONLINE TECHNOLOGIES

Teachers need appropriate, modern tools to take advantage of online programs. Administrators cannot assume that teachers will have the necessary computer equipment and Internet connections at their homes, nor should teachers be expected to engage in online professional development



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