The Necessary Components of a Staff Development Program to Prepare Teachers to Teach Secondary Online Classes: a Delphi Study
Educators are faced with the rapid influx of online courses in the K-12 educational setting. The majority of research conducted to date has been in the area of higher education. Research and publications suggest that many factors control the success or failure of students enrolled in online courses. These factors include student characteristics, mentoring, and teacher/student interaction. Other factors affect the implementation of successful online courses and virtual schools. These factors include policies, funding, student support, technology, curriculum, access, equity, staff development, and administration. Currently, the absence of appropriate research suggest the need to identify the necessary components of a staff development program to prepare teachers to teach secondary online classes in a local school system. In the development of a staff development program, measures need to be undertaken to assess and address the individual needs of the teachers.
This study was designed to identify the necessary components of a staff development program for the purpose of training teachers to teach secondary online courses in a local school system and collect recommendations for differentiating staff development to meet the individual needs of teachers. Using a three-round Delphi technique, panelists, representing successful secondary public and corporate online schools, developed a common consensus on the necessary components. The panelists identified the components needed for teacher training and ways in which a staff development program could be structured to address the individual needs of teachers. The panelists were provided an opportunity to scale the components as to their degree of importance. By working through the rounds and providing statistical feedback, a consensus was obtained. Each panelist was provided the frequency, mean, and standard deviation for each criterion. The components agreed upon by 80% of the panelists as either very important or important were used to develop an outline of a staff development program that can be used to train teachers to teach secondary online courses.