Online Professional Development for Out-of-School Programs
Professional Development can help build the foundation of a variety of expanded learning programs. Many afterschool, community school, SES (supplemental education services), summer learning, and other expanded learning professionals have had the opportunity to attend a conference or participate in a one-time training session that a hired consultant delivered to their afterschool program. As programs feel the pinch of the economic downturn, however, many afterschool professionals are turning to online training and have discovered its many benefits.
Financial Savings. Online professional development is usually much more cost-effective than traditional professional development because travel costs, consultant fees, or conference registration expenses are eliminated. In addition, program directors no longer have the burden of covering release time for staff to attend trainings.
Common Language and Consistency. Online courses provide consistency of professional development each time a staff member takes the course. This allows for a common language for instruction to develop and eliminates the risk of inconsistency from multiple trainers.
Relevant Activities. Quality online courses always include job-embedded activities where participants take newly acquired skills and knowledge into their instructional practice.
Sustainability. Providing consistent and ongoing professional development through online courses enables afterschool programs to sustain the common language and instructional gains over the years, even with staff turnover.
Accountability. Online courses allow afterschool leaders to monitor and support participants’ progress and activities. Reports can also be generated for easy program evaluation documentation.
In response to the demand for affordable online professional development, the SEDL National Center for Quality Afterschool and Learning Sciences International have collaborated in the development of the Virtual Academy for Afterschool. These engaging and interactive online courses are based on 5 years of research and offer afterschool programs affordable training options.
Michael Toth is CEO of Learning Sciences International, an e-learning company that specializes in professional development