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Effective professional development for e-learning: What do the managers think?


  • Dr Amy Wilson teaches on the Bachelor in Education and Post Graduate Diploma in Education (E-Learning) for Massey University. She has spent the last 8 years developing both online and web-supported courses and teaching. Dr Wilson has served as the convener of a national forum, facilitated international online conferences and served on national e-learning projects and has also served on bachelor programme accreditation panels as an e-learning adviser. In 2005/06, she was selected for a national professional development scholarship.

Dr Amy Wilson, School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Email:



Introducing new methods of teaching and learning requires an institutional approach to professional development in order to cater for the different levels and requirements of staff. The increase in e-learning use has prompted many institutions to adopt a whole organisation approach to professional development for lecturers.

This paper proposes to answer three related questions. How do institutions of vocational education within New Zealand structure their institutional provision of e-learning professional development? What training or other development opportunities are provided by institutions? What do e-learning managers feel are the types of e-learning professional development that work best in terms of lecturer development and support?

A literature review was completed and interviews were held with e-learning managers from 13 institutions. The data collected from the interviews were then analysed using a grounded analysis approach.

The analysis process yielded concepts that were related to different types of professional development training, information and support. The analysis provided a structure of professional development. Furthermore, the efficiency of the types of e-learning professional development was analysed based on e-learning managers' perception and evaluation models. Professional development with opportunities for skill acquisition and collaboration was deemed the most effective.

Practitioner Notes

What is already known about this topic

  • • Academic staff need new skills to teach e-learning.
  • • There are different levels of professional development, which vary in duration and scope.
  • • Professional development needs to be relevant for academic staff to benefit.

What this paper adds

  • • This paper discusses the types of professional development made available at tertiary institutions for staff new to e-learning.
  • • This paper explains what e-learning managers feel is the most effective professional development format.
  • • This paper analyses why the e-learning managers feel this format is the most effective.

Implications for practice and/or policy

  • • Managers will be better informed why particular types of professional development for e-learning work well.
  • • Academic staff will be better informed about what professional development might best suit them.
  • • Academic staff will be better informed about what managers feel about effective professional development and be able to have a greater role in the evaluation feedback cycle.