Thursday, June 14, 2012

Teacher, Teach Thyself! Free Quality PD Resources

You don't have to take or attend formal classes
to extend your learning.
Photo Source
It's summer in the northern hemisphere, which is a great time for educators to take a break from the daily bustle of teaching. It's also the greatest opportunity many of us have all year to extend our own professional learning and grow in our craft.

Depending on where you work, your professional development may be proscribed for you, or you may have a lot of freedom to choose courses or sessions you would like to attend or work through online. Regardless of your individual situation, there are countless learning resources on the web for you to take advantage of whenever you have a desire to learn something new. Even if you are required to take specified trainings by your school, you can still learn what you want when you want on your own for FREE using high-quality resources like the ones below.

Direct your own PD for your own professional growth and for the benefit of your students! Here are some resources I find useful and often return to when I'm looking for answers, to review prior learning, or to understand something new. -
Created by Russell Stannard, a specialist in the use of media and technology. The tutorials on this site rival any that I've ever paid to watch, and they've helped me learn several programs and web tools. The site is a little hard to navigate in my opinion, but worth it when you find the software instructions you are looking for.

TeachingChannel -
To quote from the website itself: "Teaching Channel is a video showcase -- on the Internet and TV -- of innovative and effective teaching practices in America's schools." Professionally produced videos which show knowledgeable practitioners demonstrating teaching practices that work in their classrooms. Get inspired with some new approaches to try out in your classroom!

Classroom 2.0 LIVE! -
This site provides weekly live webinars with education practitioners that are sure to add to your teaching tool kit! Participating live is the best way to go if you can because it allows you to ask questions of the weekly guests. If the timing of the live sessions doesn't work for you, and/or you'd like to benefit from past sessions, you can view recordings of previous webinars on the archives page. -
This site is created by Google employees who want to help a more mature generation of tech users get their bearings in the world of technology. Each video is a short overview of a technology topic or tool. Many are focused on Google tools (of course), but there are also spots on other useful topics such as this one on how to create a strong password.

Learn It In 5 -
Created by Mark Barnes, an experienced educational technologist, the short videos on this site are aimed at teachers and are mostly under five minutes in length. They get straight to the basics of what you need to learn to use a techonlogy.

Microsoft in Education -
Teaching guides, lesson plans, and product how-tos specifically aimed at classroom and higher ed practitioners. One of my favorites is Digital Storytelling in the Classroom.

Microsoft Office Training -
General training resources for Microsoft Office products. This site has been valuable to me as our district is switching to Office 2010 this year. Resources exist for Office versions back to 2003.

Sponsored by the Goodwill Community Foundation, the tutorials on this site are AMAZING and FREE. Topics include, computers, reading, and math. There are free online courses in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

CommonCraft -
If you are a visual learner, this site is for you! Complicated concepts in business and technology explained using a unique animated format. You can view individually online for free, but if you decide to use these with students or other educators in presentations, please pay the appropriate licensing fees so these folks can keep creating these high-quality training videos.

Digital Discoveries from El Paso ISD
Tim Holt, Instructional Technology Director of El Paso ISD, presents short video segments on all sorts of educational technology, from using iPads in unique ways to using web tools with your students to directing your own professional development.

iTunes U -
If you own any iDevice, you probably have iTunes on your computer. But have you ever noticed iTunesU? An extensive repository of educational resources from universities and K-12 school systems all over the world, it's hidden right there in iTunes. You can take a course from Oxford or MIT if you want (not for credit, but it's the real stuff!). Several states like Texas have repositories of educational content as well. The video linked above gives a good overview. To explore yourself, open up iTunes on your computer, go to the iTunes store, and look for the iTunesU link in the top navigation bar.

That's my list! It is by no means exhaustive. Have I left off one of your favorite go-to sites for continuing learning? If so, please share it below in the comments so we can all benefit. Happy learning!