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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
The administrators’ guide to the benefits of online professional development
November 16, 2020
The following article was provided by Total School Solutions.

With COVID forcing changes from the traditional classroom settings to online learning, both students and district staff have been forced to make paradigm shifts in the way they deliver and receive instruction. Similarly, the change to online professional development seemed daunting for administrators, educators and support staff, undeniable benefits of the “distant” format have come to light that cannot be replicated in traditional instruction.

1. Eliminates most travel
Often, the time and expense of travel make it unrealistic to participate in all of the professional development that staff desires. Online education completely eliminates the need for travel as learning can take place anywhere, including work, home or even at the local coffee shop. Less travel saves on time, expenses, is safer, allows participants to take more coursework and reduces our carbon footprint.

2. Better suited for individual needs
Whether the online experience is taught in real time or not, the courses can be designed to better meet everyone’s individual needs. As the selection of online courses expands, there will be, and perhaps already are, many more experiences available as compared to what is offered locally. Additionally, recorded lectures can be rewound and replayed, which is much easier than derailing a discussion to ask the instructor to repeat the part of the lecture you missed because you needed to take an urgent call. Self-paced courses can also be taken when it is convenient for the learner. Furthermore, the length of time to complete a course can be adapted to the needs of the learner. We all know that life sometimes gets in the way of our plans, and online courses offer flexibility that a traditional course cannot.

3. All material can be organized on one platform
Have you ever had to search for a document but could not find the original email it was attached to? All course material can be stored in one place — a learning management system or LMS that can include video lectures, handouts, presentations and other materials. Assignments can be both downloaded from and uploaded to the same site, which helps both the learner and instructor stay organized. As long as you have the link and the password, you are good to go!

4. Access to great instructors
Since travel is not a barrier, not only do you have the flexibility to take the course anywhere, but this also eliminates barriers for the instructors by reducing their travel. That means over time more high-quality instructors will have remote courses available and adult learners can learn from the very best in the field.

5. Increases learning potential
Even with adult classes, many learners feel intimidated by interacting or presenting in class. In the live online format, many students feel freed from the stress of talking in front of the class to participate or to make a presentation in breakout groups or text-based backchannels. With the ability to break up students into small online groups for small group discussion or group work, the instructor can easily rotate through groups to hear feedback and to assess learning.

Needs for all learners, including adult learners, can vary greatly; however, there are ways to meet these needs even during these unsettling times. Although change is difficult, it also presents the opportunity for new growth. The experience we have been through with COVID has been challenging for all of us, but this time shows we can adapt and learn new ways of living, working and learning, and strategies to recognize the personal and professional growth we need.

Now is a good time to start looking at online professional development options for you or your staff.

ACSA and Total School Solutions have partnered to offer two new academies in specialized areas of school administration: Director of Maintenance and Operations and Director of Child Nutrition. For more information, visit ACSA’s Online Learning Center at onlinelearning.acsa.org.
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© 2020 Association of California School Administrators