Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Online Professional Development - It's easier now!

When I first began teaching overseas, I craved the interactive professional development of conferences and well-planned in-services.  However, there was a dearth of both for various reasons - time, money, small teaching staff etc.  But, I found several resources to fill the gap.  One summer at NECC (now ISTE's annual conference), I won a year's worth of classes through Classroom Connect Connected University.  Again, remember, this was ten years ago when online learning was still uncommon.  It was so amazing and fun.  I took classes on communicating with parents with technology, creating good internet projects, and infusing technology across the curriculum.  I also found my way to MiddleWeb, which has had various incarnations since its early days.  I loved having the ability to post a question to countless colleagues around the world and have multiple answers within hours.  Now, I realize this doesn't sound surprising, but in the early 2000s, social networking was still new. 

But now?  Wow - there are so many resources online for teachers to continue their professional development.  One that I'm especially keen about this the Teachers Teaching Teachers Technology Virtual Conference (4TVirtualCon) which has FREE registration!  Last year I attended and presented on creating an  internet projects that ROCKS.  This year, I'm interested in the 4T's mulitple sessions about QR codes in the classroom.

Twitter has also become my goto space for connections with colleagues. If you don't know what this is all about, check out Teachers on Twitter: It's All About the Hashtag.  As a teacher, I attend Twitter chat sessions for English teachers #engchat on Monday nights.  As a research and academic, I also follow #phdchat (Wed  and #gradschool. There is a good overview of Twitter for Academics from the University of Evansville.  I also found Using Twitter in University Research, Teaching and Impact Activities.

I often hear about people's predictions about what the classrooms of the future will look like.  However, in just thinking about how the opportunities for teacher professional development have changed over just the last decade, I think the better question is, what should the classrooms of today be using to prepare students for the world of the future.  We certainly can't accurately predict what the new technologies will be.  Somehow, I've learned to adapt and embrace the changes of the last few years, but how? I have to admit, it is a lot of trite proverbs:
* If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
* Treat others as you would like to be treated.
* Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.
* Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn. William Arthur Ward 
* Experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones.  
* If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.-Isaac Newton
* Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant. -Mitchell Kapor

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