COVID-era edtech PD: What teachers are saying

Among the three top challenges teacher identified were academic learning, followed by their own job stress and mental health
By: | August 14, 2020
Teachers in a recent survey said their most common source of professional development for remote instruction was learning from and collaborating with colleagues, rather than formal training sessions.Teachers in a recent survey said their most common source of professional development for remote instruction was learning from and collaborating with colleagues, rather than formal training sessions.

Teachers are eager to use edtech to personalize online learning as schools recover from COVID but say they aren’t receiving enough formal professional development, a new University of Virginia survey says.

In fact, the most common source of training for remote instruction cited by teachers was learning from and collaborating with colleagues, according to the survey conducted by EdTech Evidence Exchange, a university-affiliated nonprofit.

“We are all going to be relying on technology big time for next several years and beyond,” says Robert Pianta, dean of the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development. “It’s been learn-as-you-go for teachers, who are now saying we need to be much more systematic and much more formal about how they are trained.”

Only 27% of the teachers surveyed said they had participated in formal professional learning for technology-based remote instruction. In contrast, administrators said they believed that more than half of their teachers had received such training.


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The shift online also had an impact on the content taught. More than 80% of teachers said they taught no new instructional material this spring or less than what would’ve have been typical.

Among the three top challenges teacher identified were academic learning, followed by their own job stress and mental health.

“Teachers are having to literally build the track while the train is hurtling down it,” Pianta says.

Edtech looks ahead

More than 80% of teachers surveyed said students will need a greater degree of personalized instruction to recover from the COVID disruptions, and that their school’s edtech needs will increase significantly over the next three years.

More than three-quarters of the respondents also said that online learning this spring had a fair amount, a lot or an extreme amount of negative impact on student learning.

This is likely why teachers said one of their key concerns is learning how to better use tech tools to provide remediation for students who most struggled during spring remote instruction.

“Another message that is implicit in the survey is that teachers are saying to administrators, ‘Before you buy something, please check with us,'” Pianta says. “Teachers would like to be involved in figuring out whether dollars are being well spent.”


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