Teachers’ Self-Directed Online Learning


Self-directed online learning has been a central focus of Dr. Beach’s research since her dissertation work. She has conducted a number of studies related to self-directed online learning over the past several years, including a study that resulted in a comprehensive model of teachers’ self-directed online learning experiences. Read more about this study.

Most recently, Dr. Beach and her research team conducted a pilot study in between November 2019 and February 2020 exploring elementary teachers’ thought processes and web-based actions as they engaged in a series of self-directed online learning (SDOL) sessions. The SDOL sessions were documented using screen-capture technology and the virtual revisit think aloud. The goal of the virtual revisit think aloud is to aid recall of original events and thought processes by using a screen-capture recording of participants’ navigational experiences. Research examining teacher professional development (PD) by means of formal learning activities is vast; however, research examining informal learning, and specifically SDOL is limited. Understanding how and why teachers use the Internet for their PD facilitates better decisions about and increased quality of SDOL opportunities for teachers. Four main themes resulted from the qualitative analysis.


Our investigation of teachers’ self-directed online learning over time will continue during the fall of 2020 when we will leverage the results of the pilot study and conduct a larger study involving a greater number of teacher participants.