Virtual vs. In-Person Professional Development

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by Cheryl Peters, Michelle Rodgers, Lela Vandenberg
In 2010, Michigan State University Extension conducted its annual statewide conference entirely online; in 2011 MSUE chose to deliver the annual conference both virtually and face-to-face. Similarly, in 2010, eXtension, conducted its first nationwide professional development conference also using Adobe Connect. In 2011, eXtension stayed with a totally virtual conference but modified the format for more focused discussion and participation. Both organizations have conducted extensive quantitative and qualitative evaluations. This session will focus on methodology and lessons learned by both presenters and participants.

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  • None of the 8% two institute members were in AABI – 7 of 8 were in Health and Nutrition. Other in C &Y.
  • Why do we still have staff not attending technology pre-conference training? We believe training leads to more active participation which leads to improved conference objectives being met for individuals.
  • We believe training leads to more active participation which leads to improved conference objectives being met for individuals. Training needed for both comfort in the technology and for presenters on ways to increase participation within the session!!
  • Comparison of how conference objectives changed with the format change of professional development. Stress difference in survey design between two years.
  • *Indicates majority of responses. All other items in table were ranked most frequently as “no change”.
  • *Indicates majority of responses. All other items in table were ranked most frequently as “no change”.
  • *Indicates majority of responses. All other items in table were ranked most frequently as “no change”.
  • Chi-squares performed for each SDT item with response if were the conference experience supported, discouraged, or did not change their feelings about working for MSU Extension.
  • Additional: A one-way ANOVA was used to test whether employee’s ratings of the ability to make inputs deciding how their jobs get done differed among institute affiliations. Self-ratings of the ability to make inputs on the job differed significantly across the institutes, F (5, 199) = 11.71, p <.01. Bonferroni post-hoc comparisons of the institute groups indicate that the Health and Nutrition employees (M = 3.86) rated the ability to provide input significantlylower than the Greening Michigan employees (M = 5.38); whereas, the Children & Youth (M = 4.60) and AABI (M = 4.67) employees rated the ability to make inputs similarly and were not significantly different from the other institute employees. Only finding that differed by Institute Affiliation. Years with Organization did not relate to anything.
  • ** Same questions used in both formats . Percentages that this objective was somewhat, quite a bit, or completely met are highlighted for each. Black is In-Person.Red is Virtual.
  • The fact that these objectives had comparable and relatively high rates of being met under both types of learning formats is evidence that both formats are effective for Extension professionals. Demonstration that ratings did not differ significantly further proves the value and potential contribution of both learning environments – online and in-person.
  • These conference objectives related to content and skill transfers in professional development and results showed a greater effectiveness to be delivered via virtual sessions
  • Suggesting there is still a valuable role for traditional meetings, but that it might not need to be in tandem with annual in-service conferences. Perhaps this need can be offered through other events such as professional associations and project team recognition.
  • Virtual vs. In-Person Professional Development

    1. 1. Virtual vs. In-Person Professional DevelopmentComparing Outcomes from Two Annual Extension Conferences Cheryl Peters, Ph.D.; Specialist Michelle Rodgers, Ph.D. ;Director, Univ. of Delaware Lela Vandenberg, Ph.D.; Senior Specialist
    2. 2. This presentation focuses on thehighlights from the 2010 all virtual conference evaluations (n=338) and the 2011 conference evaluations for the in-person portion (n=219) and virtual portion (n=92)
    3. 3. Comparing the 2010 All-VirtualConference to the 2011 Virtual Portion
    4. 4. Who was the audience?• Audience in virtual conference settings were very similar. – 55% Educators ; 21%-23% paraprofessional staff; 10 % support staff ; remaining specialists, program leaders, admin.
    5. 5. Institute Affiliation• Similar in virtual conference settings. Notable decrease in % of Ag staff attending in 2011. 2010 % 2011 % Extension Institute Respondents Respondents Children and Youth 27% 29% Health and Nutrition 27% 27% Agriculture/ Agribusiness 22% 13% Greening Michigan 14% 13% No Institute identified or 16% assigned 10% Two Institutes identified 8%
    6. 6. Years of Experience in Organization Under 5 6-10 11-20 20+ Years Years Years Years2010 Virtual conference 28% 20% 28% 24%2011 Virtual portion 24% 27% 29% 20% Under 5 6-10 11-20 20+ Years Years Years Years2011 In-Person portion 21% 21% 37% 21%
    7. 7. Pre-Training• 2010 – 69% (n=227) participated in one or more of the five types of pre-training.• 2011 – 28% completed training, another 18% did not participate in 2011, but did so in 2010.Still, another 28% reported never attending pre-training to become comfortable with using theonline conference technology “Adobe Connect.
    8. 8. Comfort with Technology• In 2010, Adobe Connect was rated as an effective medium for professional development (98%). – Those comfortable with using technology were more likely to report learning more in the virtual conference.• In 2011, 0% responded as not-at-all comfortable using technology as a participant. As a presenter, the majority are somewhat comfortable. – Comfort with presenting online was associated with attending pre-conference training.
    9. 9. What was their learning format preference?• In 2010, 49% preferred future conferences to be only face-to-face. 35% preferred online only. 28% preferred a combination, hybrid, or alternating online and in-person.• In 2011, 84% preferred a hybrid conference with 60% reporting learning equally well in both formats.
    10. 10. Participant EngagementVariable constructed for level of involvement inthe virtual conference settings.Participant only = PassiveParticipant + Presenter, Host, Moderator, orSession Planner = Active
    11. 11. Passive vs. ActiveSame percent of Passive vs. Active participationin the virtual conference settings across years.In 2010, 230 passive (69%) and 102 active (31%)In 2011, 66 passive (69%) and 30 active (31%)
    12. 12. Changing Organizational Culture Improved ActivePre-Training Conference Participation Outcomes
    13. 13. Meeting Conference Objectives Comparing the Virtual: 2010 & 2011 Comparing 2011: In-Person & Virtual
    14. 14. 2010 Conference Objectives 2011 Conference ObjectivesParticipants felt inspired, motivated, Built capacity to achieve success in theirand assured regarding role in MSU work.Extension Developed skills sets and learned effectiveParticipants built core competencies methods to deliver programs, including the use of technology.Participants had opportunity to learn Learned something new about key issuesfrom each other through collaborative facing Michigan and our world.work sessionsExperiencing a role in the conference Felt motivated because needs forprovided opportunity to feel assured competency, autonomy, and relatedness atabout role in organization work were satisfied by the FEC experience.Participants felt FEC 2010 made them Had opportunities to learn from each othermore comfortable with future online through collaborative work sessions.learning experiences Renewed personal commitment to the MSU Extension mission and rekindled theAbode Connect was evaluated as an organizational spirit of making a difference.effective learning medium Gained a better understanding of where MSU Extension is headed in the future.
    15. 15. Comparing the Virtual ConferencesComfort with Technology – In 2010, active participants more likely to feel assured of their role in the organization AND to report increased comfort using technology for future professional development. – In 2011, those very comfortable using technology for professional development more likely to learn equally well in both format, or likely to learn more online. Less comfortable with tech more likely to learn more in face-to-face format.
    16. 16. Comparing the Virtual ConferencesBuilding Competencies – In 2010, majority (83%) reported meeting this objective to build essential content and skills. – In 2011, 96% reported somewhat true or very true that they were able to learn interesting new skills on the job in the last year, and 58% further agreed that the online conference portion supported that learning at MSU Extension.
    17. 17. Comparing the Virtual ConferencesInspired and Motivated – In 2010, 59% reported feeling somewhat inspired by the all virtual conference. • Yet, 92/260 of comments coded for ‘worst feature’ found the conference impersonal. – In 2011, 89% reported they consider people at work as friend and believe that people at work care about them. • Yet, only 15% and 18% thought an online conference supported this work motivation.
    18. 18. Comparing 2011In-Person & Virtual Portions
    19. 19. Self-Determination Theory• Self-Determination Theory (SDT) defines intrinsic and extrinsic sources of motivation• Work conditions supporting the individual’s experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness were assessed for the last year as a baseline measurement, then respondents determined if the hybrid conference experience supported, discouraged, or did not change their feelings about working for MSU Extension.Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, socialdevelopment, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68-78.
    20. 20. IN-PERSON VIRTUAL PORTIONWork Motivation PORTIONSelf-Determination Theory7-items % Felt % Felt True True Supported SupportedFeel can make a lot of inputs 78% 27% 74% 28%deciding how job get doneFree to express ideas and 77% 24% 72% 22%opinions on the job
    21. 21. IN-PERSON VIRTUAL PORTIONWork Motivation PORTIONSelf-Determination Theory7-items % Felt % Felt True True Supported SupportedPeople at work tell them they are 90% 28% 89% 38%good at what they doAble to learn interesting new 96% 58%* 87% 39%skills on the jobMost days feel a sense of 88% 25% 86% 30%accomplishment from working
    22. 22. VIRTUAL IN-PERSONWork Motivation PORTION PORTIONSelf-Determination Theory % Felt % Felt7-items True True Supported SupportedConsider the people worked with 89% 15% 87% 31%as friendsBelieve people at work care 89% 18% 90% 30%about them
    23. 23. Work Motivation VIRTUAL IN-PERSON Both Both Autonomy Autonomy items items 2 of 3 All 3 Competence Competence items items Neither Both Relatedness Relatedness items items
    24. 24. 2011- Both Virtual & In-Person If an Extension employee feels they have opportunity to provide input deciding on how their job gets done, and that they have freedom to express their ideas and opinions on the job throughout the year, then the virtual and in-person conference formats support this work motivation. Autonomy
    25. 25. 2011- Both Virtual & In-Person If an Extension employee agrees people tell them they are good at what they do and if they are able to learn interesting new skills on the job during the year, then the virtual and in-person conference supported this work motivation. If an Extension employee felt a frequent sense of accomplishment during the last year, they were more likely to feel the in-person conference experience supported this type of work motivation. Competence
    26. 26. 2011 - In-Person Only Extension employees that consider the people they work with as friends and have higher ratings that people at work care about them, were more likely to feel supported by only the in-person conference. Relatedness
    27. 27. Motivation Comparison Virtual and in-Person• Both formats are needed and may be better suited by type of conference objective.• An employee feels motivated by work (job autonomy and competence) during the year, they will both formats are considered helpful in supporting their work. The converse is also true• In-person format seems to support a feeling of connectedness to others and provide a sense of accomplishment feelings from work better than virtual formats.
    28. 28. Common Overall Conference Objectives Percent Percent Agreed Agreed Average Average TABLE 1: Objective Independe Objective Rating for In- Rating for Met for nt t – test Met for In- Person Virtual, 2011 Conference Objectives Virtual, Results Person Format Online Format Online Format Format Built capacity to achieve success in their work. t (292)= - 84% 92% 2.09 2.41 3.59 p <.001 Developed skills and learned effective methods t (290)= - to deliver programs, including the use of 62% 89% 1.77 2.42 7.00 technology. p <.001 Learned something new about key issues facing Michigan and our world. 78% 81% 2.21 2.13 ns Had opportunities to learn from each other through collaborative work sessions. 84% 85% 2.32 2.36 ns Renewed personal commitment to the MSU Extension mission and rekindled the organizational spirit of making a difference. 75% 77% 2.17 2.16 ns Gained a better understanding of where MSU Extension is headed in the future. 80% 81% 2.22 2.21 ns
    29. 29. Overall Objectives Summary• An independent t-test found that the means significantly differed on just two of the six.• The objectives with comparable conference ratings being reported as met included: – learning something new about issues facing the state and world, – having opportunities to learn collaboratively from peers, – renewing personal commitment to the Extension mission and spirit of making a difference, and – gaining a better understanding of MSU Extension’s future.
    30. 30. Overall Conference Objectives• The two conference objectives that did differ both by percent in agreement and through statistical testing of the means were – building capacity to achieve success in Extension work and – developing skills and effective methods to deliver programs including the use of technology.
    31. 31. Discussion Points• Creating comfort using technology is critical to achieve success with online professional development• Active participation is related to improved outcomes and facilitates peer-to-peer learning. This is an important skill set for presenters to develop.
    32. 32. Discussion Points• Extension professionals are motivated at work by seeking challenges, keeping busy with interesting activities, and having job autonomy.• Both online and in-person formats of professional development are useful, needed, and recommended for Extension professionals.• Content-focused and skill transfer sessions are best suited to online learning formats and these may be offered more frequently than once a year settings such as annual conferences.
    33. 33. Discussion Points• Extension professionals that consider people they work with as friends and believe people at work care about them, are more likely to feel supported by in-person conference experiences.

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