Facebook to help teacher professional development 


The Northern Territory Department of Education and Training is working with Charles Darwin University to trial a program of online professional development for Accelerated Literacy teachers in remote settings.

Using interactive distance learning (IDL) software, blogs, and social networking websites such as Facebook, the e-learning professional development (ePD) aims to facilitate teacher learning through an online community.

A trial, delivered for one term to up to 20 teachers in remote NT schools participating in the National Accelerated Literacy Program, will inform the design and effectiveness of the ePD.

Teachers will participate in a live online community once a week using IDL software, followed up with independent web-based interaction on blogs and social networking websites. A Sharepoint website will be used to share professional readings and videos of teachers in action.

Teachers will analyse student assessment data, set learning goals, share strategies and then apply their new knowledge by working with individual students with specific learning needs. They will also give their opinion of the ePD to improve future trials.

Designers of the ePD, CDU researcher Claire Bartlett and DET Accelerated Literacy Education Officer Donna Robbins, said they hoped the trial would reveal how technology might overcome obstacles for professional development in remote NT schools. They also hoped ePD would help schools with high staff turnover to maintain quality teaching.

“Some teachers work hundreds of kilometres from an urban centre,” Claire said.

“To go into town for half a day’s training might actually mean two to three days away from their class. If we deliver professional development electronically, then we are able to give teachers more support, at the same time reducing negative impact on their students,” she said.