Collins, Linda J., & Xin Liang (2014, July). Task relevance in the design of online professional development for teachers of ELLs: A Q methodology study. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 15(3), 268-281.

Abstract: Online professional development (oPD) for teachers should focus on designing webbased learning opportunities that help practicing educators solve the tough problems of practice when working in their schools. Technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge can be integrated in the design of online professional development modules to enhance task relevance for maximum learning and transformation. The purpose of this study was to learn which tasks in an online professional development module were ranked by inservice educators as relevant to their work with English language learners (ELLs). Using Q methodology, the researcher asked participants to rank the relevancy of 36 online tasks from an online professional development module designed and developed at an American university. Participants used a -5 to 5 forced distribution to rank online activities from “Least relevant to my work with ELLs” to “Most relevant to my work with ELLs” followed by a semi-structured interview to explain their decisions. After data analysis, two factors emerged, indicating that participants’ perceptions on task relevance differed by professional roles and educational settings. The participants also favored didactic online tasks over interactive tasks. The findings from the oPD participants’ responses have the potential to serve as the basis for future online professional development design and for planning other relevant activities to be applied to the elearning environment.

Linda J Collins <ljc9@uakron.edu> and Xin Liang <liang@uakron.edu> are with the University of Akron, Akron Ohio, USA.

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