Describing K-12 online teachers’ online professional development opportunities for students with disabilities

Mary Frances Rice


Online teacher professional development (oTPD) researchers have been concerned with design features, teacher change in practice, and student learning, as well as establishing guidelines for directing funding support. Even so, previous work suggests that high-quality instructional support for all SWD is still on the horizon. As a response to the need for better instruction, professional development for SWD has emerged in all settings, including teachers who are not just receiving oTPD, but who are online teachers themselves. The purpose of this study was to use online teachers’ descriptions of their oTPD for SWD to learn about the professional learning opportunities available to teachers around serving SWD and their families. Teachers and administrators from various online/virtual learning schools around the country participated in this study. Even though teachers had SWD in their courses and were directly responsible for SWD, most teachers and administrators described few professional development opportunities for learning to teach SWD in the online learning environment beyond giving and receiving information about legal compliance. However, there was some evidence that some teachers in some schools were supported in forming informal collaborative communities with the potential for developing promising practices for these students.


students with disabilities, online teacher professional development, administrator and teacher perspectives

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