Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

FacultyShare Presentation by Pamela Beach

Optimizing Online Learning: Examining the Use of Web-based Resources in Teacher Professional Development and Literacy Education Coursework

Thursday, November 10, 2016
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm​
Vernon Ready Room (A115)
Duncan McArthur Hall

Dr. Pamela BeachDr. Pamela Beach is an Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy.


Online professional resources are primary sources of information for teachers from general fields to the elementary level, providing accessible opportunities for learning and contributing to teachers’ repertoire of professional knowledge and instructional material (Demir, 2010; L. Stosic & Stosic, 2014; Wu & Chen, 2008). As elementary teachers increasingly access online resources to supplement their formal coursework and to support their professional goals and instruction (Chen, Gallagher-Mackay, & Kidder, 2014; Kao, Wu, & Tsai, 2011), it is essential to examine how teachers informally use and learn from online environments. Specifically, gathering data about how teachers self-direct their learning in online environments is important input both for understanding the processes of online learning as well as for suggesting ways of improving the effectiveness of web-based resources. In addition, examining the perceived usefulness of digital technologies by teachers and teacher educators can suggest ways in which these learning tools can be integrated into professional courses and teacher education coursework.

This presentation will share two studies that examine how teachers use and learn from online literacy resources and digital technologies. The first study involves an in-depth investigation into elementary teachers’ self-directed learning in an online environment. A methodology combining a retrospective think aloud with screen recording technology was used to capture cognitive processes from 15 teachers as they used a multimedia professional development website that supports evidence-informed literacy education. This study offers a theoretical model for elementary teachers’ self-directed online learning experiences. The second study examines the perceived usefulness of “virtual classroom visits” in literacy education coursework from the perspectives of teacher candidates and teacher educators. Findings suggest that virtual tour technology can offer beginning teachers with an additional window into exemplary classrooms and access to models of highly experienced teachers.