An Evaluation of ELLN Digital: Technology-Supported Teacher Professional Development on Early Language, Literacy, and Numeracy for K-3 Teachers

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This report describes a mixed methods study of the Early Language, Literacy, and Numeracy Digital (ELLN Digital) teacher professional development (TPD) program pilot in the Philippines, which took place in 2016-2017. The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the TPD, a blended learning version of the established face-to-face ELLN course. Data were collected through multiple methods, including an end-of-course survey; pre- and post-course assessments of teacher pedagogical and content knowledge, and teacher strengths and needs; interviews, focus group discussions, and observations in six case study schools. The research was conducted under the Digital Learning for Development (DL4D) project of the Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development (FIT-ED) of the Philippines, jointly funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Philippine-American Fund.
Qualitative findings and an end-of-course survey indicate that participating teachers and school principals were positive about the course, its design, and content. They were generally of the opinion that valuable learning had occurred and had impacted on teaching practice and on children’s learning. Teachers were generally positive about the blended learning model, which combined Learning Action Cells (LACs) with a CD courseware intended to be studied prior to LAC meetings in a flexible, self-paced learning mode. The model was designed to encourage teachers to take charge of their own learning within communities of practice. Teachers indicated that they found the LACs a safe and supportive space in which they were able to reflect on and discuss their learning and their practice. However, due to problems in accessing technology and the courseware, and time constraints, many teachers were unable to engage in the courseware in a genuinely flexible, self-paced fashion. Another key finding is that the LACs were not always implemented as intended, with some resembling traditional classes with Keywords: teacher professional development, blended learning, literacy, early childhood, communities of practice, flipped classroom information transmission style lectures and presentations rather than genuine communities of practice characterized by teachers taking ownership of their own learning through reflection, discussion, and action. Quite often, teachers were unable to put their learning into practice satisfactorily because of insufficient classroom resources such as ‘big books.’ Despite some shortcomings in the implementation of the ELLN Digital course, quantitative findings on teacher learning indicate that the pedagogical and content knowledge of participating teachers were significantly better in the post-test overall, with some variation between the subgroups of teachers. In particular, teachers in rural schools demonstrated significantly larger mean gains in scores in content and pedagogical knowledge than those in urban schools, and mean gains in scores of teachers with higher qualifications were significantly greater than those with only bachelor degrees.
Recommendations include ensuring that ELLN Digital is adequately resourced. It is crucial that all participating teachers have ongoing access to the CD courseware or its internet version, and a working computer, so they can learn at a time, pace, and place that suits them. It is also important that all classroom resources mentioned in the course are made readily available to each teacher. Participating teachers also stated that the weekly time commitment was somewhat excessive. Running the course over a longer duration with shorter weekly LACs, or LACs every two weeks instead of weekly, may alleviate time pressure and encourage deeper learning. It is also recommended that additional training be given to teachers and LAC Facilitators on the intended role of the LACs in their learning so that there is not an expectation that the LAC Facilitator provides lectures, presentations, and ‘correct answers’ as would be the case in many traditional professional development sessions. Finally, there is scope for the provision of more quality formative feedback throughout the course so that teachers can monitor their own learning in an informed way
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationManilla
PublisherDigital Learning for Development
Commissioning bodyFoundation for Information Technology Education and Development Inc (FIT-ED)
Number of pages88
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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