In Defense of In-Person Professional Development

Digital tools make it possible to convert in-person professional development to digital platforms. Is that what teachers need? I argue it makes more sense to incorporate engaging digital components into in-person professional development than it does to digitize everything.

Most teachers do not teach distance digital courses. They teach in-person and hopefully have access to devices for their students. Practice like you play – PD should reflect what we want in our classrooms. Exclusively online inherently falls short in that regard.

Simply replacing in-person professional development with online learning will likely fail for another reason besides its misalignment with most teachers’ daily practice: it deprives participants of what they need – face-to-face human interaction. As John Green explains in this 17-second clip, we have not replaced school exclusively with e-learning:

As the internet has made video conferencing and remote work easier, cities have grown and thrived. Shouldn’t this give us pause before digitizing everything? For more information about the growth of spaces where people collaborate and work in-person, read Triumph of the City by Edward L. Glaeser.

Update (10/6/18): Thank you, Ashley McBride, for sharing this on Twitter:

See how valuable face-to-face contact is for learning? Here is the video linked in the tweet:

What do you think? Should professional development be entirely digitized? Let me know if the comments below or tweet me @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

The image I used for this post is a photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.


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