Written by Dylan Allen

Teacher professional development is increasingly moving online, saving school districts money and offering teachers greater flexibility and convenience.

A new five-year project—Massive Open Online Professional Informal Individual Learning© (MOOPIL©)—taps into the potential of online learning and professional development. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education for $2.68 million and will offer online professional development to teachers, school leaders, and paraprofessionals serving English learners, as well as students’ family members.

“We are happy we will be able to offer 2,500 in-service teachers over five years virtual professional development to improve their pedagogical decisions,” said Dr. Beverly J. Irby, project principal investigator and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Education & Human Development. “Additionally, we will work with 100 administrators, 150 paraprofessionals, and 100 parents/family members virtually to help them to have a better understanding of implementation of instructional strategies for English learners at school and at home.”

MOOPIL is one of two National Professional Development grants awarded to Dr. Irby in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Rafael Lara-Alecio, Regents Professor, and Dr. Fuhui Tong, associate professor of bilingual education, are co-principal investigators.

The project will provide teachers and other school personnel with a convenient online portal to improve their skills through live professional development seminars and recorded videos.

“All school participants will receive continuing education certificates,” Dr. Irby said.

Continuing professional education (CPE) is required to renew Texas teacher certificates, and classroom teachers must complete 150 hours every five years. MOOPIL will offer one CPE for every hour of training.

The project is housed in the Education Leadership Research Center (ELRC) and Center for Research & Development in Dual Language & Literacy Acquisition (CRDLLA).