Professional Development

Teachers Want More Online, On-Demand, and Targeted Professional Learning Opportunities, New Survey Shows

In a new survey commissioned by learning technology firm D2L, only 20% of K–12 educators responding said they are “strongly satisfied” with the professional learning options, even as 94% agreed that ongoing professional development is important to a teacher’s effectiveness, D2L said Tuesday.

The goal of the K-12 Teacher Professional Learning Survey was to capture U.S. educators’ opinions on professional development priorities and challenges and how they were impacted by the pandemic, according to a news release.

Researchers at Interactive Educational Systems Design invited more than 65,000 K–12 teachers and administrators across the country to participate in the survey; 127 school administrators and 850 teachers responded during September and October 2021. The margin of error was approximately +/-3.1% at the 95% confidence level, IESD said.

Key Findings on Teachers’ Attitudes on Professional Learning

  • A majority of teachers (55%) said their interest in online, on-demand professional learning had increased since before the pandemic.
  • 94% of U.S. K-12 educators agree that ongoing professional learning is important to a teacher’s effectiveness.
  • 91% are interested in professional learning that is targeted to each teacher’s specific, unique needs (including 56% strongly interested).
  • 71% of teachers said they are interested in online, on-demand professional learning (including 32% strongly interested).
  • Only 36% of respondents expect district-provided access to online professional learning on a regular, ongoing basis.
  • 82% of district administrators cited “teacher time as a barrier to online professional learning,” compared to only 48% of teachers identifying time challenges, “suggesting that teachers may be more willing to commit their time to flexible learning options than administrators expect,” the survey report said.
  • 71% of respondents reported increased availability of online, on-demand professional learning during the pandemic, and 67% said they had more access during the pandemic to online, live professional learning.
  • Only 20% of respondents reported they’ve had more access to targeted professional learning during the pandemic, and 24% reported decreased or no availability, “indicating a need for more professional learning options that are targeted to each teacher’s subject matter, grade level, modality, and experience,” D2L said.
  • 82% of respondents said they’d be satisfied with professional learning being available to them more frequently than once a month — “on a more regular, ongoing basis.”
  • Only 43% said they’d be satisfied with professional learning that was available to them “once or twice each semester.”

Recommendations for District Leaders

The K-12 Teacher Professional Learning survey findings revealed several changes that D2L recommends for district leaders:

  • Increase the availability of on-demand professional learning
  • Enhance the personalization of professional learning
  • Providing more targeted, personalized professional learning experiences can be enabled through more online and on-demand opportunities and third-party partnerships.
  • Boost the frequency of ongoing professional learning

“The pandemic pushed schooling online, and teachers had to pivot both their instruction and their own professional learning accordingly. At the same time, the pandemic’s disrupting challenges have exacerbated teacher fatigue, frustration, and exits,” said Mark Schneiderman, Senior Future of Teaching Learning Director at D2L. “Meaningful professional learning is more important than ever to help teachers thrive and succeed. Flexible professional learning online helps teachers learn at their own pace, maintain best practices and meet their goals within a learning community.”

Learn more and download the full survey results at D2L’s website.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].