Software, Classroom Management Top Interests Among Teachers for Online Professional Learning

Teachers typically take advantage of online professional learning (PL) opportunities because they are personally interested in finding out more about subjects; they're most interested in learning about software and digital resources and classroom management; and they're more likely to take advantage if they've been teaching for less than 20 years.

Those are some of most significant findings of the 2016 Vision K-20 Survey, released each year by the Software & Information Industry Association's (SIIA) Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN). This year's survey focused on why and how educators — all the way from kindergarten through the college and university level — participate in online professional development.

According to ETIN, the SIIA Vision K-20 Survey is an online self-assessment hosted on SIIA's Vision K-20 website for educators and educational leaders in K-12 classrooms, schools and districts and postsecondary courses, departments and campuses.

There was fairly strong agreement among the more than 700 educators who responded to the survey about the three key findings:

  • They enroll in online PL because they are personally interested in subjects and not necessarily just because it is a requirement for their jobs;
  • The most popular courses they select are those that provide training in software and digital resources and those that give advice about classroom management and behavior; and
  • Typically, educators with less professional experience (20 years or less) are more likely to participate in online PD than those with more experience.

There were some differences between the responses of K–12 and higher education instructors, just as there were differences between those with more or less teaching experience.

For instance, 59 percent of K–12 educators had participated in online PD in the last year, compared to 50 percent for higher ed educators. While classroom management and the use of software and digital resources were both popular among K–12 educators (each getting about 34 percent response rates), classroom management ranked only fourth among higher ed educators, with training on software, training for teaching online and training for student assessment all ranking higher.

Classroom management courses were most popular among educators with less than 20 years of experience, while those who are more experienced preferred to learn about software and digital resources. The less-experienced educators also were more likely to receive their online PL from their own educational institutions while the more experienced educators sought out online communities.

The complete 2016 Vision K-20 Survey is available for download on the SIIA site.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.