A Grounded Theory of Professional Learning in an Authentic Online Professional Development Program
Online professional development (OPD) programs have become increasingly popular. However, participating in professional development does not always lead to profound professional learning. Previous research endeavours have often focussed on measuring user acceptance or on comparing the effectiveness of OPD with a face-to-face delivery, but there is little knowledge of how the process of professional learning actually occurs in OPD. This study explores how professional learning takes place in an OPD program designed according to the principles of authentic e-learning, and how the learning design and technologies used impact on the professional learning experienced by the participants. The context of the study is an international OPD program in vaccine management developed and offered by World Health Organization. A grounded theory approach was employed to develop a theorised model of the professional learning process in an authentic online learning environment. The findings show that professional learning was facilitated in a dynamic web of interactions rather than by covering content: the learner is at the centre of the process, actively engaged in authentic tasks in collaboration with peers, while mentors and content play a supporting role. Technology facilitates and enables the web of interactions. The learning process was found to bear resemblance to the type of professional learning that occurs in authentic workplace settings, which implies that the authentic e-learning principles provide a helpful learning design framework for OPD.
Copyright (c) 2017 Hanna Teräs, Ümit Kartoğlu
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The copyright of all content published in IRRODL is retained by the authors.
This copyright agreement and use license ensures, among other things, that an article will be as widely distributed as possible and that the article can be included in any scientific and/or scholarly archive.
You are free to
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms below:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.