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Selecting Online PD Courses for Computer Science

When thinking about professional development this Summer and upcoming Fall, it’s now important to consider online opportunities that offer similar support as in-person professional development. 


Here are some things to think about when selecting an online CS PD provider:

Success Rate & Completion

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Online courses are infamous for its low completion rate which hovers between 3% – 6% for free courses,  and 46% for paid courses [1]. The convenience of a self-paced learning often makes online courses less of a priority in the midst of a busy life, even for the most highly motivated learners. However, would you believe that there are online courses that have a 95% completion rate? How is this possibl

According to Blumenfeld et al,’s research [2], there are four things are necessary to engage the learners:
          1. Interest and value – Are learners interested in the topic? Do learners see value in understanding the topic? In the CS educator realm, the question could be, “Are you interested in upgrading your Python programming skills and discovering various pedagogical approach?”

          2. Evaluating perceived and achieved competence – Is there a gap between what learners know and what the course/instructor assume the learners know? How is this evaluated and how do you narrow the gap? Popfizz PD begins with a 15-minute onboarding meeting with the learner. Through a friendly conversation, a study plan is created to accommodate the prior knowledge, learning style, and schedule of the learner. 

         3. Task focus and safe learning environment – Are learners focused on learning, or simply completing the course for credits (or grades)? To help learners focus on learning, it is important to create a safe environment that supports learners trying and failing. Popfizz provides custom code reviews for every failed attempt and gives unlimited opportunities for the learners to improve their code. 

          4. Instructor’s content knowledge – Learners need to feel that the instructor has a strong grasp on the course content. Do your research and be sure that virtual PD instructors are subject matter experts in the field. 

Effective online professional development courses include hands-on instruction, feedback, and possible activity ideas for students. Also, evaluate the completion rate of your potential online CS PD course, as well as prior participant feedback. Popfizz PD courses have a 95% completion rate and our courses are designed by a team that has extensive CS teaching experience and EdTech experience.

One-on-One Support & Collaboration


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Understandably so, face-to-face interaction is limited during this time of virtual PD. As such, Popfizz recognizes the importance of offering as much support as possible for professional development courses. That’s why we’re working around teacher schedules to incorporate one-on-one support and group support. We have also created the “Geek-out” professional learning community for CS teachers to share ideas, projects, experiences and resources. 

Create a free Popfizz account and join the lively conversations.


Price Transparency

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Do you feel that professional development courses are often over-priced compared to other online tech courses out there? We feel you.

It’s important to consider price consistency and affordability when searching for online computer science professional development courses. Our PD courses offer an affordable standard rate without sacrificing high-quality instruction based on the principles of Creative Learning developed by the MIT Media Lab (Resnick, 2014 MIT Media Lab), and support the four key elements – Projects, Peers, Passion and Play.

Although our professional development courses are completely online, our cost includes dedicated 1:1 live support, code reviews and regular check-ins that will make you feel that you have a go-to-person to get you through the bottlenecks of learning. View courses.

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Popfizz Computer Science provides a comprehensive learning platform for students in grades 6-12, and online professional development courses for new and experienced teachers. Designed in collaboration with expert educators, Popfizz offers a range of online student courses, self-paced professional development courses and 5-day coding bootcamps. Popfizz’ holistic approach to teaching and learning is preparing students with 21st-century skills, and teachers with the professional development they need for beginner and next-level computer science training.

Our courses are embraced by thousands of students and educators in classrooms across the United States.

[1] https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/01/16/study-offers-data-show-moocs-didnt-achieve-their-goals
[2] ​Blumenfeld, P. C., Soloway, E., Marx, R. W., Krajcik, J. S., Guzdial, M., & Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning. Educational Psychologist, 26(3-4), 369–398. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep2603&4_8