The beginning of the school year for many teachers includes something that many are grumbling about. Do you hear those low-pitched rumbles? That’s right, I’m talking about your school’s required professional development. While nearly all teachers are required to complete continuing education credits in order to keep a current certification (and by extension, a job!), the school-mandated and offered ‘training’ days are often broad in scope, and many report that they’re not that helpful. Other schools don’t have the funding or time to support teacher training, leaving those teachers to manage their own professional development. While that may sound like an extra step in the process and just one more thing to manage, it is important to remember that if you’re managing your own professional development, you get to invest your time (and sometimes money) into what is going to be most useful for you and your classroom. So if you’re way ahead of the classroom technology integration curve, you won’t be wasting a day while your school teaches your peers iPad basics. Even in higher education – where for many years experts in their field who couldn’t teach that well were kept on as professors for their other abilities, notoriety, and grant-getting abilities – many schools are now often requiring professors to participate in professional development to improve their teaching. Especially in education departments around the globe, having great teachers teach future teachers is particularly important! So how to improve on your teaching skills, fulfill mandatory continuing education requirements, and continue to teach on a daily basis? For many beginning teachers (who may be hired with a teaching certificate but an unfinished Master’s Degree), completing graduate courses will often satisfy the required CE credits – for at least a period of time. But if you’re not in a graduate program (and let’s admit, most of us won’t be!), you may be able to find a lot of different options online.
From online graduate courses that are a part of M.Ed. programs to one off PD courses to MOOCs, there are a ton of options out there.
Intel Teach Elements offers online continuing education courses for teachers that focus specifically on technology in 21st century classroom topics. From learning about social media to 21st century assessments, these free classes are ‘just in time’ – meaning you don’t need to devote hours to taking the class. Free, short format, and focused on technology? We consider that a win.
Modern Lessons is a free online learning platform designed for teachers and students looking to bolster their existing technology skills (or to get started with technology altogether!). Many ‘basics’ classes are offered – like how to start up a Twitter account for your classroom, but there’s a huge section focused on stuff teachers would find useful, like an awesome guide to using Google in Education and courses on integrating iPads into your classroom.
PBS Teacherline offers a wide variety of online courses for teachers, many of which can earn you credit depending on how you choose to enroll in the class. Pricing varies depending on if you’re seeking graduate credit or not and varies course by course. Nearly all K-12 subject matters are offered, as well as courses in technology integreation, and many of the courses could be applicable for college instructors as well.
Annenberg Learner offers a wide variety of online courses and workshops that can count for continuing education credit, or in some cases, graduate credit as well (depending on the course). Users also have the option to purchase a DVD instead of participating in the class online. Courses are searchable by subject matter, and grade level varies widely. This site in particular has great descriptions of their courses so you’ll know easily if one might be useful to you.
ScholasticU is the online PD for teachers arm of education giant Scholastic. They offer courses for both continuing education and graduate credit both for teachers and for administrators as well. They offer many full-format courses as well as ‘quickies’, meant for having easy access to information when you need it in a crunch. Most of the classes are geared towards Pre-K through secondary teachers, and they offer a huge community of like minded teachers for you to communicate and collaborate with.
The Library of Congress offers its ‘Teacher Modules’ for free online. The courses are geared towards helping teachers learn how to use the huge collection of resources available from the Library. Courses would be appropriate for educators at all levels, and many would also be useful for older students as well. Those who complete the course can get a certificate of completion, but not graduate credit.
ASCD offers over a hundred online courses in professional development for educators. From resources on teaching to the Common Core to STEM subjects and teaching with technology, they have a wide range of subjects covered. The courses are well-priced (many around $99) and each one offers additional resources that may be helpful to you (suggested books to purchase, etc).
Teachers First offers free courses in two formats – live sessions and pre-recorded sessions – on a variety of educational topics. If you participate in a live session, you are eligible to receive a certificate of completion for that work. Since you need to participate in a live session to receive a certificate, this is obviously somewhat less flexible than watching a pre-recorded course, but we think the awesome subject matter is worth it (Bloom’s Taxonomy!!).