Professional Development for Rural Teachers in Chile: What They Need and How Technology Can Help



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This study adds to the body of knowledge about professional development for teachers. Professionally well-trained teachers will most likely transfer those skills to their students. Therefore, it is necessary to provide opportunities for teachers to develop and grow professionally according to their professional context and needs. This study focuses on professional development of rural teachers in Chile. These teachers work in schools that present unique characteristics, which demand professional development to be supportive and related to teachers? practices in rural settings.

Through a mixed method study implemented through an online survey and later interviews, rural teachers from Chile were asked about their preferences for topics to learn, the importance of participating in activities based on the adult learner paradigm, their preference for delivery methods, and their expectations of professional development for rural teachers. The study also explores the potential use of online systems and online learning communities, by asking teachers about their perceptions of the usefulness of online systems and the perceived benefits as well as obstacles to their implementation in rural areas.

The findings of this study suggest that rural teachers tend to favor professional development that provides ongoing support for their teaching practices, foster collaboration, and reflection and addresses their rural context and needs. Technology is perceived as a tool to overcome isolation and to collaborate and reflect with peers; however, this study identified the lack or unstable access to Internet as an obstacle to the use of online systems in professional development.

More research is needed to identify the design and learning principles that currently guide professional development for rural teachers. It is also recommended to identify the role of higher education in the integration of technology and education in the training of future teachers. Finally, it is suggested to research about the relationship between current professional development programs for teachers and students learning outcomes in rural areas.