Based on physics education goals adopted at the 2005 World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development, the workshop on "Active learning in optics and photonics (ALOP)" has been described as a model for teacher training and professional development. This paper describes the basic philosophy and elements of the workshop and how it has served physics teachers in schools and introductory college/university in the developing world. Its main philosophy of fostering modern hands-on learning techniques-- adapted to local culture, needs and availability of teaching resources-- is elaborated. The workshop provides the participants with a conceptual evaluation instrument, drawn from relevant physics education research, giving teachers an important tool to measure student learning.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.