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


  • Amy Wilson

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