9 Benefits of online professional development for teachers

Discover professional development topics that embrace teaching methodologies and technology integration, while enabling educators to guide and inspire students.

by Michelle Schweikhardt

Educators are inherently hungry for knowledge and new skills. Driven by a passion for their craft and a commitment to their students, this hunger fuels their desire for professional development.

However, this desire often collides with the harsh realities of time and limitations. Traditional professional development formats, while well-intentioned, often exacerbate the problem:

Fixed dates and times often leave educators feeling excluded and frustrated, as they must choose between attending or fulfilling personal commitments.

Traveling to attend workshops or conferences adds a layer of difficulty, requiring additional time and financial resources.

Traditional formats often cater to a broad audience rather than individual needs. Educators may struggle to find professional development that addresses their specific challenges or areas of interest.

The consequence of these limitations is a form of professional development paralysis. Despite their desire to learn, educators find themselves stuck, unable to bridge the gap between growth and the practical constraints of their lives.

This challenge highlights the need for innovative solutions that break free from the limitations of traditional formats. Online professional development courses for teachers, with their flexibility, accessibility, and diverse offerings, have the potential to bridge this gap and empower educators to become active participants in their learning journey.

Check out these nine compelling advantages that draw educators to professional development for teachers online:

1. Flexibility and convenience:

Online professional development courses for teachers remove the constraints of time and location. Teachers can access courses and modules on their schedules, even outside of regular school hours, regardless of their physical location.

This self-paced format allows learners to adjust the speed of learning, revisit materials, and repeat key sections to ensure thorough understanding and implementation.

By eliminating the need for travel and attendance at in-person workshops and conferences, online PD offers a convenient and efficient avenue for teachers to prioritize their professional growth without sacrificing personal time or facing logistical hurdles.

2. Cost-effectiveness:

Professional development for teachers online eliminates travel expenses for teachers and presenters and reduces costs associated with in-person conferences and meetings. Reduced costs make online professional development an attractive option for budget-constrained schools, allowing them to stretch their resources further and expand their PD offerings for teachers.

Online offerings also empower educators to tap into a vast network of free online professional development for teachers through webinars, blog posts, and diverse learning materials.

3. Variety and choice:

Online professional development courses for teachers break free from the limitations of local offerings, providing educators with a boundless spectrum of topics and specializations to fuel their professional growth and career aspirations.

With online platforms, teachers in places with limited resources can learn new skill sets and expand their knowledge base beyond what’s available in their area. Teachers are no longer limited by distance or a lack of professional development opportunities based solely on where they live.

Not only are there more specialized courses to choose from, but teachers can also get support from professionals. Renowned experts and subject-matter authorities frequently lead courses, providing teachers with direct access to valuable insights and cutting-edge knowledge.

Teacher watching a Smekens Education webinar


Advance Beyond Doing Reading to Teaching Reading

Learn what explicit, whole-class comprehension instruction looks like and how to effectively scaffold mini-lessons within the rest of the reading block to honor the gradual release of responsibility.

Earn a completion certificate


60-minute webinar

4. Interactive community:

Online professional development courses for teachers go beyond passive learning, offering immersive experiences through interactive formats like simulations and videos with engaging online activities.

Beyond the vast course selection, online professional development fosters a dynamic learning ecosystem. Teachers can now engage with peers to share new insights, encounter diverse perspectives, and learn worldwide best practices, enriching their learning journey and expanding their professional network.

Online forums, discussion boards, and virtual communities connect educators from diverse backgrounds, facilitating knowledge exchange and collaborative learning—many offer resources that serve as free professional development for teachers online.

5. Personalized learning:

Several online professional development platforms recognize teachers’ diverse needs and goals by offering personalized learning paths. These pathways are tailored to individual interests, grade-level specificity, skill gaps, and career aspirations, ensuring a targeted and meaningful learning experience.

By stepping beyond one-size-fits-all approaches, teachers can focus on the knowledge and skills most relevant to their specific needs, maximizing the value of their professional development investment.

6. Reflection tools:

Professional development courses for teachers online extend beyond mere knowledge delivery, fostering deeper learning and self-awareness through reflective practice tools. Journaling prompts, self-assessment exercises, takeaways, and other resources encourage teachers to analyze their own practices, leading to continuous improvement.

Additionally, some platforms provide data-driven insights, tracking progress and performance. These valuable metrics empower teachers to identify areas for growth and make informed decisions about their future professional learning.

CompCON 2024

7. Continuous growth:

Teachers can revisit completed courses, delve into fresh topics, and stay abreast of the latest educational trends, as a part of online professional development for teachers. With new courses added regularly, the learning experience remains vibrant and relevant, supporting continuous growth.

8. Accessibility and inclusivity:

Online professional development courses for teachers break down hurdles through accessible learning. For those with disabilities or who live in remote areas, the flexibility of online platforms removes physical and geographical limitations, making professional growth more accessible and inclusive.

Some platforms offer on-demand translation features and support services, ensuring everyone can participate effectively, regardless of their English language proficiency or other accessibility needs.

9. Enhanced teaching and classroom practices:

Professional development courses for teachers online amplify learning beyond theoretical knowledge. Built-in practice activities and simulations bridge the gap between learning and application, solidifying skills and promoting immediate classroom use.

Online resources provide targeted strategies for diverse learners and engaging with technology equips teachers with valuable digital tools for their practice.

Finally, access to cutting-edge technologies keeps teachers ahead of the curve, empowering them to integrate the latest tools into their classrooms, enhancing learning for all.

Though there may be certain benefits of one over the other, online and in-person professional development are NOT mutually exclusive; they can work together to create a multifaceted learning experience for teachers. In-person experiences offer valuable face-to-face interaction, while online professional development can present a new level of learning.

No longer limited by time and location, educators shed the shackles of the “either/or” and embrace the “both/and.” They deepen their craft, stay relevant, and nurture their students – all on their own terms.

Get started with these online professional development courses for teachers from Smekens Education Solutions:

Launching the Writer's Workshop K-2 teacher workshop

5.5 hours | Grades K-2

Launching the Writer's Workshop 3-12 teacher workshop

5.5 hours | Grades 3-12

Teaching Writing Skills All Year Long teacher workshop

5 hours | Grades K-12

Six Traits of Writing: An Introduction teacher workshop

5 hours | Grades K-12

Six Traits of Writing: Implementation Strategies teacher workshop

5 hours | Grades K-12

An Introduction to Literacy Stations teacher workshop


5 hours | Grades K-12
Planning and Facilitating a Close Reading teacher workshop

5 hours | Grades 2-12

An Introduction to Literacy Stations teacher workshop
5.5 hours | Grades K-5
Strategies for Teaching Small-Group Guided Reading

5.5 hours | Grades K-5

14 Power Strategies to Boost Reading & Writing Achievement on Standardized Tests teacher workshop
5.75 hours | Grades 3-12
14 Power Strategies to Boost Reading & Writing Achievement on Standardized Tests teacher workshop
10 hours | Grades 3-12

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