Another Agenda

Sprague, D. (2006). Editorial: Research Agenda for Online Teacher Professional Development. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. 14 (4), pp. 657-661. Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from

Like Dede’s article, this editorial sets out a clear vision for the consideration of online professional development for teachers. However, unlike Dede’s proposal, Sprague provides a practical rather than a philosophical rationale:

  • access to experts (not place-bound)
  • time for reflection (not time-bound)
  • possible solution for the retention issue (community involvement)

However, Sprague also acknowledges limitations in moving to online TPD (Teacher Professional Development):

  • online facilitators need training
  • initial costs to build the online resources
  • ongoing costs to sustain the learning community
  • existing programs may view online offerings as competition or diversion, rather than  opportunity

In looking to the future of online education in general (not only TPD) Sprague mentions the need to help new teachers learn how to teach online and thus connects online education with TPD: delivering professional development to teachers online is an inductive way to show that teacher how to teach online.

Although Sprague’s concerns about which emerging technologies will have the most impact or the correct balance in hybridization are somewhat irrelevant (because the technologies will continually change and because the balance will be determined through research), her agenda, like her vision, is practical:

  • what is the depth and scope of online TPD needed to have an impact?
  • even if there is an impact, what other factors might prevents change (such as the school environment or the conflicting demands of teaching 21st century skills with NCLB)?
  • what are the patterns of change we should observe in teachers to determine what’s working?

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