Online materials are one of the most efficient professional development resources for educators. While many teachers have self-directed their own professional learning online, they might not be aware of some implicit decisions they are making during their learning process. Beach’s (2017) study
on this topic aims to help educators and professional resources developers understand more deeply about how educators navigate these resources and what they learn from these professional activities.
Fifteen elementary educators participated in this research and navigated the suggested PD site The Balanced Literacy Diet
. Research data sources included 1). demographic questionnaire, 2). screen capture recordings of 20-minute site navigation by each participant, 3). think aloud protocols that asked participants to reflect on their choices behind various site navigation activities, and 4). interview responses.
Findings revealed that as educators explored the PD site, they paid close attention to the following aspects of the site: organization of the website, the ease of accessing information, technology novelty, the quality and authenticity of information, and whether the resources meet their students’ learning needs. Besides, most educators took notes and saved, bookmarked or emailed useful resources for later reference. Lastly, this sample site provided participants with vicarious experiences -- such experiences occurred as participants observed a model teacher using an effective method of instruction on the site. As a result, there were increases in participants’ self-efficacy and confidence in using new literacy-related strategies.
These findings are useful guidelines for resources developers as they plan and develop self-directed online PD resources for educators.