Virtual training can be just as effective: study
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Virtual training can be a budget friendly way for educators to upskill, new study finds

Virtual training can be a budget friendly way for educators to upskill, new study finds

by Freya Lucas

May 30, 2024

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals are dedicated to lifelong learning, and to keeping up with best practice and evolutions in pedagogy and practice. 


While regular professional development can be beneficial, in person training sessions can be expensive, particularly for those in regional and rural areas. 


New research from Penn State and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has found that virtual training can be a ‘budget-friendly’ alternative — and especially effective for certain groups of educators.


Published in the International Journal of Professional Development, Learners and Learning the study found that educators who undertook virtual training reported feeling more confident in their abilities to implement practices shown to support positive child development.


The benefits were particularly strong for those working in the outside school hours care (OSHC) space who did not have a four year university degree, and who were new to the ECEC sector, with this cohort experiencing the most growth in their feelings of self-efficacy post training.


The work, co-author Assistant Professor Benjamin Bayly said, suggests that virtual professional development has the potential to be an effective way to reach a vast audience of educators who otherwise may not have the opportunity to participate in these training sessions.


“ECEC programs are often limited in financial resources and their workforce is often stretched thin, making it difficult to participate in professional development,” he said. “Virtual professional development represents an alternative that is low cost and can be completed on (educators’) own time.”


Education quality has a direct impact on children’s development, the researchers said, and has been shown to predict future academic success and social and emotional well-being for children of all ages.


“However, given the high rate of turnover in ECEC programs, these professionals may leave and be replaced by new teachers who have not completed (training),” AP Bayly said. “It may not be feasible for the program to continuously bring in an outside expert to train educators every time new professionals come on board.”


The researchers said because there is great variability in the quality of virtual professional development — and as a result, great variability in the effectiveness of the trainings — additional studies should continue to evaluate the effectiveness of virtual professional development, both on its own and in comparison to in-person professional development and hybrid models.


Access the study findings in full here

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