Transforming Teachers Through Professional Development Distance Learning Programs

Transforming Teachers Through Professional Development Distance Learning Programs

DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-0607-9.ch016
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The chapter presents the transformational processes found in a group of in-service teachers who attended an online distance learning professional development program that appeared to be stable two years after the program ended. The program was supported by Mezirow's transformative learning theory, which inspired the program's instructors. The mixed method (quantitate and qualitative) was chosen as the method of data collection. The results indicated that the program activated the critical reflection of the participants on their experiences, transformed their initial perceptions about the teaching of biological concepts in Primary School, and the utilization of DEC and OER in educational practice, encouraged their reflection about their professional role, and enhanced their personal and professional development.
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Teacher professional development is an extended learning experience and plays a significant role in the quality of education, as it affects both the teaching practices and learning outcomes (Darling-Hammond, 2017). The speed of aging of knowledge, the stormy changes in the field of education and technology, the new pedagogical practices and theories, the multiculturalism of the school classrooms, and the wider changes and challenges of the post-modern society, make the teacher’s initial university education insufficient and require the constant redefinition of their role (Tzovla & Kedraka, 2022; Tzovla et al., 2021a). In this frame, a new type of teacher is being created, the teacher as a lifelong learner, who is called upon to respond effectively to the new challenges of his/her profession by following changes, redesigning learning environments, reframing his daily teaching practice, and transforming fixed views and perceptions.

In this context, it is imperative to be offered up-to-date and targeted teachers’ professional development programs, as well as their evaluation both in the short term and in the long term, in order to monitor the changes and transformations that occurred (if any) in the teachers who attended the program, as well as their maintenance over time. Hence, the follow-up evaluation is a process, which is not understood separately from a professional development program, it is not the end of the evaluation of an educational intervention but part of it (Hsieh et al., 2023).

However, transformations in teachers are not an easy process, as they have entrenched perceptions about the way they teach, the educational materials, and the teaching practices they utilize (Tzovla & Kedraka, 2023). Hence, their participation in professional development programs of short or longer duration and their networking in learning communities can contribute to their personal and professional development and affect their perceptions, knowledge, skills, and attitudes and the implementation of all these in the classroom (Fitriani, 2023). This process could strengthen the redefinition and transformation of the way they teach, the materials they use, and the teaching practices they apply (Widodo & Ferdiansyah, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Communities: refer to learning environments where participants collaborate equally and share ideas, experiences, practices, and concerns with the ultimate goal of learning.

Open Educational Resources: refer to resources freely available from their creators with open licenses, which allow the use, reuse, and modification of the resource.

Biological Concepts in Elementary School: the subject of Biology.

Digital Educational Content: refers to open-access materials suitable for educational use and adapted to the educational needs of the target group to which it is addressed.

Teachers’ Professional Development: acquisition and/or update of knowledge and skills related to the teaching profession, in order for teachers to respond to their professional duties.

Transformative Learning: is the process by which people transform their views, perceptions, and beliefs when faced with a disorienting dilemma.

Distance Learning: refers to e-learning, and online learning courses, which includes physical separation and the utilization of Information and Communications Technology.

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