A new survey commissioned by D2L, a global learning technology company, has found that 94% of U.S. K-12 educators agree that ongoing professional learning is important to a teacher’s effectiveness, but only 20% are strongly satisfied with their professional learning options.
D2L commissioned the K-12 Teacher Professional Learning Survey to understand educators’ learning priorities and challenges emerging out of the pandemic. A representative sample of 977 K-12 teachers and school administrators across the U.S. responded between September and October 2021.
“These survey findings are consistent with our experience that teachers are more open to continuous and online professional learning as a result of their experiences during the pandemic. We are excited to be further redesigning our professional learning offerings in an effort to better serve our teachers with more innovative, flexible and research-aligned methods,” said Jennifer Harriton-Wilson, Ed.D. of Putnam Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Survey Shows Significant Interest in Professional Learning Options
A majority of teachers (55%) identified an increased interest in online, on-demand professional learning since before the pandemic. The survey revealed that:
- 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)
These findings suggest that educators recognize the need for more timely and personalized professional development opportunities. These emerging interests are consistent with research-based best practices for professional learning that is embedded and sustained over time.
Closing the Gap in Access
While there is significant interest in expanding professional development options, only 36% of respondents expect that their district will provide access on a regular, ongoing basis as needed. In addition, 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 K-12 Teacher Professional Learning survey findings revealed several steps that can be taken by education leaders at all levels to improve teacher professional learning during this critical time:
- Increase the availability of on-demand professional learning
The survey revealed that 71% of teachers are interested in online, on-demand professional learning (including 32% strongly interested). Busy teachers require timely, convenient, and on-demand learning experiences that are self-paced and supported through online professional learning communities.
- Enhance the personalization of professional learning
While educators reported increased availability in online on-demand (71%) and online, live (67%) professional learning during the pandemic, there remains a gap with professional learning targeted to each teacher’s unique needs like subject matter, grade level, modality and experience. Only 20% of respondents reported increased availability for targeted professional learning and 24% reported decreased or no availability. 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 survey showed that 82% of respondents were satisfied if they expected that professional learning will be made available to them more frequently than once a month — “on a more regular, ongoing basis.” In contrast, only 43% were satisfied if they expected professional learning would be made available to them “once or twice each semester.” A district learning management system can help drive awareness of, and enhance access to, available options.
“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.”
To learn more about these and other related findings, take a look at the survey here.
This survey was conducted by Interactive Educational Systems Design (IESD) during September and October 2021 on behalf of D2L. More than 65,000 U.S. school district administrators and K-12 teachers across all 50 states were invited by email to take the survey, and 977 qualified educators responded (127 district administrators and 850 teachers). The margin of error was approximately ±3.1% at the 95% confidence level. Margin of error estimates for specific subgroups analyzed in this report varied from approximately ±3.4% to ±8.7%.
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