01 SES 13 A, Online and Distance Learning
Teachers play a central role in the transmission of knowledge and values for students. The quality of teaching is recognised as the most critical in-school factor influencing student outcomes (Hattie, 2008; OECD, 2005; Rockoff, 2004; Rowe, 2003). Hence, developing the teaching workforce is not only foundational to achieving good outcomes from schooling but also to addressing educational inequities present within and between nations.
Every year, millions of dollars are invested in teacher professional development (PD). PD policies and practical approaches abound in every education system. However, teachers in rural and remote settings often struggle to access PD, due to geographical isolation, costs associated with travelling for PD, and difficulties in obtaining relief or substitute teachers in small communities and those located far from metropolitan centres (Erickson, Noonan, & McCall, 2012; Maher & Prescott, 2017). The increasing availability of digital technologies, however, holds the potential to overcome many of these issues.
Despite the potential of digital technologies in delivering PD for teachers in regional and remote settings, there is little research on how online delivery alters participant engagement and interaction in PD when compared with traditional face-to-face delivery. Focusing on participants’ reported experiences and video-recorded interactions, a key aim of the paper is to identify how teachers respond to the online adaptation of Quality Teaching Rounds (QTR), an approach to teacher professional development that has demonstrated significant and sustained effects on the quality of teaching across stages and subject areas (Gore et al., 2017).
Traditional QTR delivery involves two or more teachers from a school attending a two-day workshop focused on the Quality Teaching model (NSWDET, 2003) and QTR protocols. On returning to their schools, these teachers work in professional learning communities (PLCs) of four teachers to observe and analyse each other’s teaching, using the Quality Teaching model, followed by extended conversations about their collective practice.
The developmental evaluation of an online approach to QTR, known as QTR Digital, was conducted in 2018, involving 16 teachers from schools in 15 regional and remote contexts across New South Wales, Australia. The face-to-face workshop was adapted to become a two-day mixed-delivery course, involving webinars, online coursework and independent video coding. PLCs were established involving four teachers from different schools, who uploaded video-recordings of their classes online for observation and then met, via videoconferencing, to collaboratively analyse and refine their teaching practice (Gore & Bowe, 2015).
Interviews and focus groups involving all participants were used to examine and document how adaptations to this approach to professional development for an online setting were experienced by participants. Ethnomethodological Conversation Analysis was used to examine how technology was used as an interactional resource (Rintel, 2013) in video-conferenced professional learning conversations offers a detailed examination of the mediating effects of technology on participating teachers’ interactions. Drawing together literature on effective teacher PD (Darling-Hammond, Hyler, & Gardner, 2017; Tekkumru-Kisa & Stein, 2017) and online learning (Parsons et al., 2019; Teräs & Kartoglu, 2017), we describe possible affordances and limitations of connecting communities of teachers through professional development, with the goal of improving the quality of their teaching and the outcomes for their students.
This paper draws on two forms of qualitative analysis to examine the role of technology in mediating teacher professional learning and professional learning conversations in an online environment. We conducted one round of focus groups and one round of individual interviews with 20 teachers who had participated in QTR Digital, 8 of whom had previously participated in the face-to-face approach to the intervention. We conducted a thematic analysis of these interviews and focus groups to understand participants’ perceptions of engaging in QTR in a digital environment. We focus specifically on how adapting this professional development for an online environment, through online training, video-recorded lesson observations, and videoconferencing, were received by the participants and their reported engagement in QTR. This analysis illustrates how participants experience online training and the need for greater emphasis on building a sense of community between PLC members. Drawing on the work of Garfinkel (1967) and Sacks (1992), we offer a detailed ethnomethodological examination of three video-recorded conversations between PLC members, representing over three hours of interactional data. This analysis is informed by Hutchby’s (2001) concept of “technologized interaction”, whereby the use of technology frames but does not govern the social and interactional work being conducted online. Our analysis demonstrates the ways in which technology is invoked as a social and interactional resource by teachers, whilst mediating their professional learning.
This paper examines the ways in which adapting a high quality, traditionally face-to-face, PD approach to an online setting can alter teachers’ engagement and professional learning conversations. We show that QTR PD can be successfully adapted but requires modifications for an online environment. Our thematic analysis demonstrates that, while participants reported an overwhelmingly positive response to QTR Digital, the technological mediation impacted their professional learning. Teachers reported that, on the one hand, the use of video and video-conferencing provided key opportunities to reflect on their practice and develop links with colleagues working in different contexts. On the other hand, they indicated that increased time and interaction was required in order to develop strong collegial relationships with others when they were not meeting face-to-face. Analysis of PLC conversations extends Rintel’s (2013) finding that technology, specifically video-conferencing, is often topicalised by participants as an interactional resource for building and sustaining their online relationships. We demonstrate that participants’ references to technology reduce over time, as the online environment becomes a less notable and more comfortable forum for interaction and professional learning.
Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M.E., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Retrieved from Learning Policy Institute website: https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/sites/default/files/ product-files/Effective_Teacher_Professional_Development_REPORT.pdf Erickson, A., Noonan, P., & McCall, Z. (2012). Effectiveness of online professional development for rural special educators. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 31(1), 22-32. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Gore, J. M., & Bowe, J. M. (2015). Interrupting attrition? Re-shaping the transition from preservice to inservice teaching through Quality Teaching Rounds. International Journal of Educational Research, 73, 77-88. doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2015.05.006 Gore, J., Lloyd, A., Smith, M., Bowe, J., & Ellis, H. (2017). Effects of professional development on the quality of teaching: Results from a randomised controlled trial of Quality Teaching Rounds. Teaching and Teacher Education, 68, 99-113. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2017.08.007 Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis. Hutchby, I. (2001). Technologies, texts and affordances. Sociology, 35(2), 441-456. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/S0038038501000219 Maher, D., & Prescott, A. (2017). Professional development for rural and remote teachers using video conferencing. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 45(5), 520-538. NSW Department of Education and Training (NSWDET). (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: A classroom practice guide. Sydney, Australia: NSW Department of Education and Training/Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate. OECD. (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/education/school/34990905.pdf Parsons, S.A., Hutchinson, A.C., Hall, L.A., Parsons, A.W., Ives, S.T., & Leggett, A.B. (2019). U.S. teachers’ perceptions of online professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 82, 33-42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2019.03.006 Rintel, S. (2013). Video calling in long-distance relationships: The opportunistic use of audio/video distortions as a relational resource. The Electronic Journal of Communication/La Revue Electronic de Communication (EJC/REC), 23(1-2). Retrieved from www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/ publication/video-calling-in-long-distance-relationships-the-opportunist ic-use-of-audiovideo-distortions-as-a-relational-resource Rockoff, J. E. (2004). The impact of individual teachers on student achievement: Evidence from panel data. American Economic Review, 94(2), 247-252. Rowe, K. (2003). The importance of teacher quality as a key determinant of students’ experiences and outcomes of schooling. Paper presented at the ACER Research Conference, Melbourne, Australia https://research.acer.edu.au/research_conference_2003/ Sacks, H., & Jefferson, G. (1992). Harvey Sacks: Lectures on conversation. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. Teräs, H., & Kartoglu, U. (2017). A grounded theory of professional learning in an authentic online professional development program. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(7), 191-212. Tekkumru-Kisa & Stein (2017), A framework for planning and facilitating video-based professional development. International Journal of STEM education, 4(28), 1-18. doi:10.1186/s40594-017-0086-z
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