Arrested Development what next by RyanClayton


									                                                        what next

                        Arrested Development
                 Online training is the norm in other professions.
                           Why not in K–12 education?
                                              BY MICHAEL J. PETRILLI

E     veryone knows that the Internet
      is changing the way the world
works, plays, and connects. Yet its most
                                             Most professionals                           popular with working parents); others
                                                                                          try to cram PD into the heads of
                                                                                          exhausted instructors as soon as the
powerful applications only seem obvi-           would rather                              closing bell rings.
ous after some entrepreneur has                                                               As in so many other areas, our edu-
brought them to life. Of course the          develop their skills                         cation system appears to be lagging
web is a great way to distribute books,                                                   behind in exploiting the Internet. Last
but it took Amazon to make this clear.           online than                              year the National Research Council
Of course the Internet is a smart way                                                     (NRC) published Enhancing Profes-
to distribute movies, but it took Net-         sit in day-long,                           sional Developm ent for Teachers:
flix to make it happen.                                                                   Potential Uses of Information Technol-
     So it is with adult learning. Most
professionals would rather develop
                                               mind-numbing                               o gy. It reported on a recent survey by
                                                                                          Leah O’Donnell of consulting firm Edu-
their skills online, on their own sched-                                                  ventures, which found that six in seven
ule, at their own pace, than sit in day-
                                                “workshops.”                              teachers had participated in “conven-
long, mind-numbing “workshops” that                                                       tional” professional development expe-
bring a lot of boredom and frustration                                                    riences, but a “markedly lower” pro-
but little intellectual stimulation. So                                                   portion had access to online training.
it’s not surprising that as long ago as 2006 (eons in Internet        This is particularly perplexing, given that teachers could
time) the American Society for Training and Development          be receiving targeted training in the comfort of their own
reported that across all sectors almost 40 percent of profes-    homes, on their own schedule, and without the hassle or frus-
sional development (PD) was delivered via technology (See        tration of face-to-face PD. And the offerings of online teacher
figure 1). (Surely the numbers are even higher now.)             training are growing—and growing better. For example,
     One would think that our elementary and secondary edu-      PBS’s TeacherLine offers more than 100 interactive courses
cation system would embrace online learning for teachers         for pre-K–12 teachers, who can earn PD credits or (for a nom-
and administrators, too. Traditional professional develop-       inal fee) even college credit for completing them. Or consider
ment for educators isn’t exactly winning rave reviews; in        CaseNEX, an online professional development company
2006, for example, the MetLife Survey of the American            that spun off from the University of Virginia’s Curry School
Teacher found that only half of teachers thought that “pro-      of Education. Via online video, teachers can engage with real-
viding more opportunities for professional development           life “case studies” of classroom challenges and participate in
would help a lot in keeping good people in teaching.”            an interactive online community of professionals. And yes,
     It’s not hard to understand why: as with other profes-      they can earn credits for doing so.
sionals—or even K–12 students—individual teachers don’t               So why aren’t K–12 educators embracing online profes-
want or need homogenized training. They need “differen-          sional development in greater numbers? The NRC report
tiated instruction,” targeted to where they are in their         suggests several possible reasons, including a lack of knowl-
careers and focused on the subjects they teach, their own        edge about such opportunities among teachers and admin-
strengths and skills gaps. None of this is easy to deliver in    istrators; a bias among principals for more traditional
traditional settings.                                            methods; and institutional resistance from district profes-
     And school schedules make face-to-face training logis-      sional development staff who might see their own jobs
tically challenging. Some districts have created special “pro-   disappear if teachers bypass their programs and engage in
fessional development” days for their teachers (likely not       training created from afar.                                                                   F A L L 2 0 0 8 / E D U C AT I O N N E X T   85
                                                                        Going Online (Figure 1)
                                                                        Private and public sector organizations outside of edu-
                                                                        cation have seen a steady shift away from live instructor-
                                                                        led training toward technology-based training.
    This institutional resistance appears to be the most likely                                         Trends in Employee Training, 1999-2006
explanation, but it’s not limited to central office staff. As with                                         Technology-based learning   Instructor-led live
so many things in life, the problem comes down to money.                                                 90

                                                                          professional training hours
Traditional professional development providers (including                                                80

                                                                            Average percentage of
colleges of education) have a lot of dollars at stake in the face-                                       70
to-face model. They are likely to be outcompeted by national                                             60
providers in the purveyance of customized teacher training.                                              50
    And teachers themselves have come to expect to be com-                                               40
pensated for the time they spend in professional development                                             30
activities. A recent study by Education Next executive editor                                            20
Frederick M. Hess for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found                                              10
that the collective bargaining agreements of more than half of                                            0
the nation’s 50 largest school districts mandate that teachers                                                1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
be paid stipends for participating in PD outside of the regu-           Note: Data are from participants in the Benchmarking Forum, a consor-
lar school day. If these teachers participated in online profes-        tium of public and private companies.
sional development instead, at home, at night or on the week-           SOURCE: American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), Investing in Learning;
                                                                        Looking for Performance, 2006 ASTD State of the Industry
ends, would they have to be paid for their time? It’s not clear.
    Perhaps accountability is an issue, too. Under the tradi-
tional model, teachers get credit just for showing up. In an             Still, judging from the Internet’s success in revolutioniz-
online setting, they would probably have to demonstrate              ing other fields, eventually the resistance to online professional
mastery of a subject via an assessment. And almost nothing           development will crumble. How long that will take will be
stirs up a faculty lounge more than the dreaded words                a decent indicator of just how calcified our education sys-
“teacher testing.”                                                   tem has become. I

             Christensen brings clarity to a muddled
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        —Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great

            A crash course in the business of learning—
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86    F A L L 2 0 0 8 / E D U C AT I O N N E X T                                                                                

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