Online professional development across institutions and borders

Rienties, Bart; Divjak, Blazenka; Eichhorn, Michael; Iniesto, Francisco; Saunders-Smits, Gillian; Svetec, Barbi; Tillmann, Alexander and Zizak, Mirza (2023). Online professional development across institutions and borders. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 20, article no. 30.



Professional development (PD) is a key element for enhancing the quality of academic teaching. An increasing number of PD activities have moved to blended and online formats, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the desire, potential, and need for collaboration among educators to learn from innovative and best practices, several institutions have started to pool their resources and expertise together and have started to implement cross-institutional and cross-national online professional development (OPD). The questions of what type of a (cross-)institutional OPD educators might prefer, and whether educators learn effectively from (and with) peers in such cross-cultural context have not been adequately explored empirically. In this case-study across three European countries, we explored the lived experiences of 86 educators as a result of a cross-institutional OPD. Using a mixed methods design approach our pre-post findings indicated that, on average, participants made substantial gains in knowledge. In addition, several cultural differences were evident in the expectations and lived experiences in ODP, as well as the intention to transfer what had been learned into one's own practice of action. This study indicates that while substantial economic and pedagogical affordances are provided with cross-institutional OPD, cultural differences in context might impact the extent to which educators implement lessons learned from OPD.

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