Defining and Designing Responsive Online Professional Development (ROPD): A Framework to Support Curriculum Implementation

Defining and Designing Responsive Online Professional Development (ROPD): A Framework to Support Curriculum Implementation

Jeremy Riel (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA), Kimberly A. Lawless (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA) and Scott W. Brown (University of Connecticut, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2399-4.ch010
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Abstract

Teacher professional development programs typically do not meet teachers' ongoing, long-term needs that arise. In this chapter, the authors forward a systematic framework called responsive online professional development (ROPD) that can be used by instructional designers to provide continuous, online PD for teachers in the service of curriculum implementation fidelity. The systematic process afforded by the ROPD framework promotes teachers' reflection on their individual classroom practice as they implement new curricula or standards and provides support to teachers as they are implementing new curricula, standards, and pedagogies. Design elements of the proposed ROPD framework are discussed by the authors, and an illustrative example of the implementation and observed outcomes of a previously enacted ROPD Program (GE2PD) are discussed. When compared to conventional PD programs, professional growth from ROPD is emphasized during the implementation process through a systematic approach that intentionally connect teachers with the instructional designers of a curriculum.
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Principles For Professional Development Design In Support Of Curriculum Implementation

Over the last three decades, there have been many types of teacher PD programs that operate under different timeframes. Previous reviews of teacher PD programs have indicated that programs typically have teachers participate in “one-shot”, up-front, one-time programs ranging from one hour to one week (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007; Garet, Porter, Desimone, & Birman, 2009). However, research has documented that PD interventions that have participants spend more time have been found to increase both teacher and student learning outcomes and increase practice and professional reflection (Dede et al., 2008; Penuel et al., 2007). These longer-term PD interventions should be specifically developed to de-emphasize memorization, promote reflection, and encourage teachers to implement new skills, pedagogies, and curricula over time in order to be effective (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007).

In addition to the length of time that teachers spend in PD, research in professional learning over the last 20 years have demonstrated the importance of reflection as a process of professional growth. As such, processes of reflection should be promoted in PD. Teachers make sense of their experiences through continual reflection, which involves teachers’ perceptions, analysis, and inferences about what happens in their classrooms (Gikandi, 2013; Hoban & Hastings, 2006). Regular opportunities for reflection provide teachers with an opportunity to analyze their own experiences and practice and to gain insights on how their students learn (Hammerness, Darling-Hammond, Bransford, Berliner, Cochran-Smith, McDonald, & Zeichner, 2005). Reflective opportunities also provide coaches and support staff with important empirical information about the events that are occurring in teachers’ classrooms. In effect, reflections can give an opportunity for instructional designers to “listen to the teachers” and adapt curriculum based on their needs and the challenges they face (Riel, Lawless, & Brown, 2016a).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reflection: A professional development process in which professionals critically analyze past experience in order to perceive inferences and plan future activity. Reflection is regarded as a necessary component of professional learning and skill acquisition.

Dedicated Support Staff: A team of instructional designers, curriculum and content experts, and administrative staff to help support teachers’ implementation of new curricula and to facilitate ROPD. The support staff responds to teacher requests in an ROPD by developing a curated set of resources that targets teachers’ expressed needs and challenges.

Responsive Online Professional Development (ROPD): A systematic framework used by instructional designers to promote professional development of teachers while emphasizing long-term, regular improvement of curriculum by identifying teachers’ needs and challenges in everyday practice.

Notification: The process in an ROPD cycle by which teachers are notified of the dedicated support staff’s responses to the needs and challenges identified in the needs analysis.

Feedback Loop: A process by which teachers communicate needs and challenges to support staff, and in turn the support staff provides resources and coaching to address these needs. Ideally, feedback loops should be unbroken and iterate through multiple cycles.

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