According to the thesaurus of the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) database, professional development refers to "activities to enhance professional career growth." Such activities may include individual development, continuing education, and inservice education, as well as curriculum writing, peer collaboration, study groups, and peer coaching or mentoring.
Fullan (1991) expands the definition to include "the sum total of formal and informal learning experiences throughout one's career from preservice teacher education to retirement" (p. 326).
Considering the meaning of professional development in the technological age, Grant (n.d.) suggests a broader definition of professional development that includes the use of technology to foster teacher growth:
"Professional development ... goes beyond the term 'training' with its implications of learning skills, and encompasses a definition that includes formal and informal means of helping teachers not only learn new skills but also develop new insights into pedagogy and their own practice, and explore new or advanced understandings of content and resources. [This] definition of professional development includes support for teachers as they encounter the challenges that come with putting into practice their evolving understandings about the use of technology to support inquiry-based learning.... Current technologies offer resources to meet these challenges and provide teachers with a cluster of supports that help them continue to grow in their professional skills, understandings, and interests."