Interactions with external resources in link-intensive online professional development courses : a collective case study
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] In online professional development (PD) for teachers, links to external resources are often integrated into courses with the expectation that they enhance learners' interactions with content. Little is known, however, about how teachers interact with link-intensive content in online PD and how to design for interactions with links so as to maximize their benefits, particularly in asynchronous courses which lack instructor mediation. The goal of this mixed methods collective case study was to explore how a group of teachers interacted with external resources in their link-intensive online PD courses. The course content pages were visited with a frequency and timing that aligned with course expectations, but participants interacted with only 38% of the links to external resources. While the courses with the fewest links had the highest rates of interaction with links, there was substantial variation in the interaction rates across participants. This study revealed no significant differences in degree of link-use across individual differences such as reasons for taking the PD, tolerance for information overload and online learning readiness. Participants evaluated the relevance of the information they expected to find at a link before interacting with it. Attitudes, guiding behaviors and information goals were associated with their decisions to interact with the links. Participants preferred authentic, teacher-produced resources and tended to skim the content at the linked resources to get the information they needed. They employed a variety of self-directing strategies in their interactions with content and reported benefits of link-intensive content systems including access to a vetted resource collection, increased satisfaction, and professional learning.
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