For better or worse, there is a lot of buzz around education, and a lot of ideas for change. Some of these ideas may work for your school. Some of them may not. It’s difficult to know which ones will if you don’t know what the ideas are.
But there is one thing that seems to ring true for education: teachers have a passion for learning and there is no shortage of opportunities for professional development. Here are a few of my favorites.
Image by EdSurge. Click for the full graphic, including conference dates and information.
EdCamps are informal conferences for teachers, by teachers. To be an EdCamp, the conference has to be free (though it may have sponsorships and the accompanying swag and flying t-shirts), but the most amazing thing about EdCamps is the agenda is decided at the beginning of each one. No proposals submitted six months ago. Have an idea you want to discuss with like-minded educators? Have a tool you want to show off? Formal presentations (a.k.a. powerpoint decks) take the back seat to desks in circle formations and a shared Google Doc. The EdCamp movement started in 2010 with EdCampPhilly. There were eight total EdCamps that year. In 2014, there were 280 EdCamps globally. Check out this link to find an upcoming EdCamp near you.
If you haven't already heard, we've partnered with eMints from the University of Missouri Department of Education to provide options for professional development to our partner schools. The courses are created, designed and led by educators, and most cover aspects of integrating technology into curriculum while maintaining the focus on learning objectives (not shiny new apps). Use code mbselearn to get a discount on their online courses, or contact your Account Manager about setting up an in-person workshop with your faculty members. Click here for more information.
There are many reasons to be suspicious of yet another social media outlet. But I invite you to lurk in one education-related Twitter chat and see how long you can keep from chiming in. Twitter is home to a huge cadre of connected educators, sharing blog posts, best practices, links and support to other teachers worldwide. Want to learn more about Mystery Skype? There's a hashtag for that. Project-based learning? English language learners? New teachers? Yes, yes and yes. Some of my favorites are #whatisschool, #tlap and #moedchat (there is one for just about every state), but you can find a full list of known Twitter chats and hashtags here.
For those schools with a significant professional development budget, summer (and many other times of the year) is rife with conferences. Many conferences these days have a strong focus on technology, with sessions on Google Apps for Education and coding. But you'll also find many discussions on the maker movement and creating your own professional learning network (PLN). Find me at ISTE as well as the Lausanne Learning Institute this summer. You can also find conferences around organizations, such as NAIS or ICE. Don't have that wonderful PD budget? Most conferences have a hashtag on Twitter that you can follow and pick up many of the ideas discussed there. There is even a hashtag for the large number of educators who can't make it to ISTE, #notatiste. ISTE also has many of their sessions streamed live at a discounted price of the registration, and no expensive hotels!
Though the year of the MOOC has come and gone, these massively open online courses provide a free way to learn something new. As a MOOC flunky, completing just two of the dozen plus MOOCs I've started, I've tried just about every platform. From Coursera to edX to FutureLearn, you can find courses on everything from online teaching to the science of cooking to understanding basic Physics. Most courses are in six- or eight-week sessions, though some are self-paced and available at any time. For the best results, I recommend finding a friend or co-learner to join you. At bear minimum, it will help hold you accountable.