Developing Online Professional Development that is Relevant to Teachers

AmysProfessional pictouchedupBy Amy Hollinger, GOA Director of Professional Development

The world of online professional development is like the Baskin Robbins approach to teacher professional growth: there are so many flavors that it is often hard to make a choice. I was excited to join the Global Online Academy team as the Director of Professional Development because I saw the potential in providing high quality online professional development opportunities in ways that are relevant to educators. We want our GOA courses to be relevant, applicable, and what educators want and need. Since our courses are small and personalized, we can focus on connecting educators from around the world in learning communities.

What makes GOA professional development different? By training and working with educators from leading independent schools around the world, GOA has accumulated a wealth of best practices in online teaching and learning. Each course is built by combining past participant experience with those best practices.

GOA pd courses are forward focused. We do not believe that online courses should replace brick and mortar courses, but rather be used to enhance them. Students are fluent in digital media, and our courses give teachers the tools to capitalize on that fluency.

Our courses are small. Participants get to know each other and the instructor on a personal level. By the end of a GOA course, participants have developed personal connections to each other as well as developed an online professional learning community. The support from the online learning communities extends beyond the end of the GOA course. Participants stay connected via online communities with support from the instructors.

GOA courses also have both synchronous (learning that occurs at a set time) and asynchronous (learning that occurs at different times) components. Participants are expected to engage with their classmates and instructor regularly. Many other online pd programs are asynchronous, which can lead to feelings of isolation. In a GOA pd course, participants engage daily in learning that is relevant to their classrooms and their growth as educators.

Finally, at GOA we understand that teachers have demanding schedules, and our courses honor teacher’s valuable time. The courses are structured in ways which make the content applicable to teacher’s brick and mortar classrooms immediately. The implementation of online learning experiences is supported by GOA master teachers who have all gone through the rigorous GOA teacher training program.

I often get asked what makes a GOA pd course different. The answer is simple: it starts and ends with the participants’ needs in mind.


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