Top Posts #3 – 5 Ways For Teachers To Get Quality PD This Summer

This post first appeared on Edudemic and is post #3 in my reposting of my top five posts from the past school year – Enjoy!

1. Attend (or start) a summer Edcamp

For the third consecutive summer, our district will host an Edcamp each Tuesday morning in Burlington, MA. These informal sessions are open to educators from Burlington and beyond who feel like gathering to lead their own learning. Attendees assemble each week and decide what topics will be the focal point for their learning. We provide members of our Instructional Technology staff (including our high school students) to support those looking to expand their skills with technology integration. In addition, teachers from Burlington can earn in-service credits or Professional Development Points for their attendance.
This model could be replicated anywhere! All you need to do is pick some dates, provide a space, and invite local educators. Trust me – if you plan it, they will come.

2. Attend A Multiple-Day Workshop

Most of the teachers whom I know hate taking one day off from their classroom during the school year, and they would never consider missing consecutive days for a workshop of any kind. The amount of additional advanced planning, combined with the time away from their students, is just too much for these folks to bear! Well, there is no time better than the summer months to escape the guilt of missing a day of school and treat yourself to a quality learning opportunity with educators and taught by other educators. Check out the summer-long list of workshops offered by EdTech Teacher’s staff of classroom practitioners.

3. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

The beauty of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is that most of the learning opportunities can be done regardless of time and place. You can choose what you learn, when you learn, and where you learn. If you are anywhere with a wireless signal, and you want to try the MOOC experience, then your only dilemma is choosing from the extensive list of options out there.  A great place to begin your search is at www.mooc.ca, a comprehensive list of MOOC’s maintained by Stephen Downes.
If you are looking for a less intimidating option, you could also enlist a group of colleagues and run through the some of the topics from the educational-technology focused #ETMOOC which ran between January and March of this year. The important part here is to find a space where passionate educators can find a topic of common interest and share their learning journey regardless of space or time.

4. Participate in a Weekly Twitter Chat

If you are an educator, then there is a Twitter chat for you. Check out this awesome Google Spreadsheet of Twitter chats broken down by nights of the week that was created by@thomascmurray and @cevans5095.  There are literally chats for every grade level and discipline that you could imagine. My suggestion would be to speak to your district or building administrator about earning credits towards recertification for your participation (in MA we call these credits Professional Development Points). You could use storify to archive your participation in the chats and incorporate your tweets into a reflective blog post to provide documentation of your learning.
If you need help getting started with Twitter, check out Erin Klein’s great video that appeared on Edudemic last week.

5. Just Hang Out

If you haven’t experienced the capabilities in a Google+ Hangout, you are missing out! Check out the schedule of Education On Air sessions that is available to educators for free learning opportunities. Educators could also create their own hangouts for colleagues to discuss a pertinent topic, collaborate on curriculum work, or even do a book discussion. The possibilities are literally endless, and the hangouts allow you to record the sessions to have for future reference. At the very least, I encourage you to try a hangout with one or two friends to see how easy it is to set up and utilize the numerous built-in functions.
Given all of the avenues available for professional development, 2013 could be the best summer ever! What a great time to take advantage of these opportunities to advance your own learning!

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One Example Of What A MOOC Can Do – #ETMOOC Lip Dub

  

 There has been a lot of talk about MOOCs lately and I have been doing a lot of thinking about how they could fit into our offerings for students in Burlington. But before I get too much further I want to make sure that everyone knows what the acronym MOOC stands for. A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course and Wikipedia describes it as follows: A massive open online course (MOOC) is a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web.

A number of top colleges have been offering some of their online offerings so that anyone interested can follow along and participate.  Check out the offerings from MIT, Yale, Harvard, and Stanford just to get a small sample of what is available.  It is a tremendously exciting time to be a learner in a day and age where you can take advantage of the opportunity take courses from some of our country’s most prestigious institutions for free.

So as we consider ways to take advantage of the opportunity MOOCs offer our students, I think we have to keep in mind some of the commonalities of meaningful learning experiences.  These are things that I have been reminded of as I have participated in my first MOOC, the Educational Technology and Media Open Online Course (ETMOOC).

The top thing for me is that a meaningful learning experience must offer participants meaningful opportunities to receive feedback and interact with other learners. The #ETMOOC experience has done this in many ways with options for participants to interact with both facilitators and learners on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.  The other thing that I believe is needed in learning endeavors is an opportunity for fun. While I am not saying that every learning experience has to be fun, I am saying that we need to find more ways for learning and fun to go hand-in-hand.

While I know that I am simplifying a very complicated conversation, I also know that we can learn something valuable from what is happening with MOOCs.  Just the video above is pretty impressive in my mind and the fact that in just over a week a group representing people from countries all over the world were able to come together to create something that is representative of their cause.

Stay tuned for more of thoughts on my MOOC experience…