The Direct Network

4 Awesome ProDev Opportunities for Higher Education

Posted by Carrie Watkins on Jun 17, 2015 2:10:00 PM
Topics: Higher Ed, professional development

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 institution. 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: faculty have a passion for learning and there is no shortage of opportunities for professional development.


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 managing online courses and analytics. But you'll also find many discussions on the maker movement and creating your own professional learning network (PLN). Find me at Distance Teaching and Learning in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as SIDLIT in Kansas City, Missouri this summer. You can also find conferences around organizations, such as NACUBO and NACAS.

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. Though a little later in the fall, EDUCAUSE also has many of their sessions streamed live at a discounted price of the registration, and no expensive hotels!

Twitter/Twitter chats

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. From education thought leaders such as George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Laura Gibbs to loosely bound communities such as Rhizomatic Learning (#rhizo15) from Dave Cormier, you can interact with educators and education-related thinkers from around the world.


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.


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. While most of the courses are focused on integrating technology at the K12 level, they also welcome faculty from higher education, especially those working to develop new teachers, to learn more about the tools available to students at all levels of their education. 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.

About Carrie Watkins

Carrie is a former digital consultant for MBS Direct, who specialized in traveling around the country to learn about new products and services MBS Direct can provide to partner schools and bringing those ideas back into the office to work on with the digital solutions team.

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