Live, online short-courses: A case study of innovative teacher professional development

  • Meghan E. Marrero U.S. Satellite Laboratory
  • Jessica Fitzsimons Riccio Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Karen A. Woodruff U.S. Satellite Laboratory
  • Glen S. Schuster
Keywords: online learning, teacher professional development, in-service science teachers, synchronous online learning


Teachers are searching for new venues through which they may meet stringent professional development requirements. Under competitive funding from NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Office of Education and the NASA Explorer Schools Project, U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Inc. created a series of live, online, interactive short-courses. In this case study, a mixed methods analysis of a variety of data sources reveals that diverse educators from a variety of classroom contexts view the short-courses as a useful professional development tool, both as a vehicle for a teacher’s own professional growth and for classroom applications. Teachers were particularly interested in the ability to participate in a collaborative community of practice with other educators, instructors, and scientists from across the country, and they found the flexible design of the professional development to be useful. This short-course design offers promise for future professional development opportunities.

Author Biographies

Meghan E. Marrero, U.S. Satellite Laboratory
Meghan E. Marrero, Ed.D. is the Director of Curriculum at U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Inc., where she leads a team of curriculum designers and developers in creating innovative, inquiry and technology-based learning experiences for K-12 students. Her research interests are in teacher education and in improving environmental literacy of teachers and students.
Karen A. Woodruff, U.S. Satellite Laboratory
Karen Woodruff, M.A. Curriculum Developer and Instructor, U.S. Satellite Laboratory is a seasoned curriculum developer with expertise in Earth and biological systems. She is a former classroom teacher dedicated to improving student achievement through meaningful experiences, inquiry-based practices and valuable teacher education opportunities.
Glen S. Schuster
Glen Schuster is U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Inc’s Founder and President, and a leading Scientist Educator. With a background in meteorology [M.S.] and as a master trainer serving educators across the globe, Glen works to transform traditional classrooms into working science, mathematics and technology laboratories. These are places where authentic science is practiced and learned in various contexts, places where math and science test scores increase and students develop skills to be competitive in tomorrow’s workplace. He is the Principal Investigator for active STEM classroom and teacher projects including: NASA-sponsored Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project, 3D-VIEW and Signals of Spring; NOAA-sponsored Signals of Spring-ACES; and NSF-sponsored SPRINTT.
How to Cite
Marrero, M. E., Riccio, J. F., Woodruff, K. A., & Schuster, G. S. (2010). Live, online short-courses: A case study of innovative teacher professional development. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 11(1), 81-95.
Research Articles