A new article in the Journal of Teacher Education compares the impact of delivering professional development face-to-face and online. The authors conducted a cluster randomised experiment on a CPD programme designed to prepare US high school teachers to implement a year-long environmental science curriculum. A total of 49 teachers were randomly assigned to either the face-to-face condition (a week-long workshop totalling 48 hours) or the online condition (to be completed by teachers at their own pace).
Comparison of classroom practice and pupil learning outcomes is normally difficult to establish in CPD research, but using a common set of curriculum materials enabled the authors to do so in this case. Their analysis found that both teachers and pupils (n=1,132) exhibited significant gains in both conditions, face-to-face and online, but that there was no significant difference between the conditions.
Source: Comparing the Impact of Online and Face-to-Face Professional Development in the Context of Curriculum Implementation (2013), Journal of Teacher Education.