- Child care workers--Education (Continuing education); Child care workers--Training of; Internet in education;
In an age of increasing accountability, childcare professionals are held responsible for providing young children quality early care and education. The unfortunate reality is that it is challenging for childcare professionals to pursue training because of the cost of training, family responsibilities, and scheduling conflicts. The Internet has the capability to knock down those barriers in the childcare profession, and has expanded the availability of information and has created avenues for teaching and learning.
The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the factors that will give online professional development instructors a better insight into the characteristics and attitudes of childcare professionals in order to deliver the most effective and efficient online professional development. The study utilized an online survey collecting quantitative and qualitative data from childcare professionals who had completed an online professional development course.
The study found that childcare professionals who had completed an online professional development course had a positive attitude towards Internet learning and classified themselves as experienced Web users. The findings revealed that participants' learning styles and characteristics were diverse. In addition, there were also participation barrier themes that emerged. These included childcare professionals' knowledge of computers or the Internet, their dedication and determination, and the quality of online professional development.
It was evident from the findings in the study that there are two considerations that instructors need to reflect on for the delivery of online childcare professional development programs. The online learning environment and the childcare professional as a learner are key elements for designing effective online professional development courses for childcare professionals. The online learning environment consists of four components: (a) computer capabilities and Internet attitudes, (b) course quality, (c) instructor accessibility, and ( d) networking opportunities. The childcare professional as a learner is made up of four factors: (a) learner characteristics, (b) experience levels, (c) learning styles, and ( d) motivation. These elements guided the creation of the Childcare Professional Development Online Characteristic Model, which is intended to help guide instructors to deliver effective and efficient online professional development. Suggestions for further research and educational implications are offered.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/heather-olsen/3/