It`s the end of a long day. After 2 plenary talks and 4 carefully chosen workshops, you are geared up with a set of incredible activities and ideas that will give a boost to your lessons and keep your students motivated and engaged throughout the next couple of months. Then , after a while you inevitably start wondering when the next event will take place and whether you will be able to attend it or not. Well... does that ring you a bell? It certainly does if you have been a teacher for a while! Events such as one-day seminars, national and international conferences have ,for ages, been considered heaven for those who seek professional development. For the future generation of teachers, though, local workshops and international conferences will no longer be seen as the ultimate source of inspiration . A massive movement towards the web is changing how people acquire knowledge and share it.
Well, let`s face it, it is undeniable how much technology has gained space in our lives and how virtually impossible it is to ignore it, specially in the professional scene. As a matter of fact, the academic year has just started in Brazil and we are still living that classic period in the beginning of the term in which everyone feels inspired to make a list of professional resolutions. These lists are no secret to anyone, we actually enjoy sharing our aspirations and aims and sometimes even add a few more resolutions to our own lists based on what we hear from other colleagues. The lists are as colorful and diverse as the number of teachers, there is a myriad of goals, but from I have recently noticed, most resolutions, in a way or another, go around a common denominator: technology. Sometimes their resolutions are explicit as wanting to learn how to use a tablet in class effectively, which new web tools to be used for upcoming class activities, or as elementary as how to make and upload a slide presentation to the school`s wiki or make a profile in a social network to interact with workmates and students. Some teaches have resolutions that apparently have no connection to technology itself, but sometimes they don`t realize that the answers to their worries might be found through technolgy.
As it has been aforementioned, there is a massive movement towards the web for both sharing and learning. Little by little teachers realize that the web has more to offer than just diversion. I have learned that the web has an unequaled power to re-design one`s academic and professional perspectives and it is my intention, here, to offer you a few suggestions I have tried myself. This post is dedicated to those who want to learn more about educational technology, those who want to learn how to take more advantage of the web for academic and professional purposes and to those who apparently believe this post does not relate to any of their personal list of resolutions and are waiting for the next seminar in town in the hope of attending a session that will address their favorite issues.
Here are a few suggestions how you can revamp your carreer in 2013:
1. Join a Facebook group
Did you know that besides keeping you connected to your friends and updated with what is going on in their lives , Facebook also offers great opportunities to interact with other professionals who share similar interests? Just go to the search area at the center top of your profile page and type in an area or topic of interest. Facebook will instantly show you many options of groups, pages and profiles that relate to your search. Visit a few and join in the one you like best. In these groups, teachers share interesting links, articles, news about upcoming events, great Youtube vídeos, etc. Here are five great suggestions to get started:
Online Teaching and Learning
2. Use Twitter to follow well-known successful professional and institutions
Nowadays top notch professional and institutions have a profile on Twitter. There, they share articles and blog posts, give tips, advertise courses and inform us on upcoming relevant events. So, go to the search space and check if those professionals you`ve always admired have a Twitter account and start following them. Tip: don`t forget to take a look at the list of users who follow and are followed by that profile. You might even discover profiles that are more interesting than the ones you were originally looking for!
Here are 10 profiles worth following:
3. Attend webinars
Also known as virtual conferences or online workshops, webinars are a fantastic way to invest in your professional recycling. They are usually free, last between 30 and 60 minutes and are delivered by the same incredible speakers you usually meet in important events. Webinars are highly interactive: you can write messages and questions in a chat box and some even allow you to speak using your microphone. Many sessions are recorded, allowing you to view them later as many times as you wish and presenters usually make their slides available for downloading. Isn`t it awesome? Give webinars a try , you shall be positively surprised!
For EdTech lovers:
Upcoming webinars delivered by Shelly Terrell every Friday (6:00 p.m Brasilia time): http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/292127
(Don`t forget to check the recordings of past webinars. Fantastic material!)
2013 TESOL virtual seminars (paid for non-members). Check out the schedule:
Serendipity and Fine Focus Webinars
There is no list of upcoming session topics once many of them are decided by the users the moment the webinar starts. I tried it once and I was very surprised that the whole session was on the topic I had suggested. It was a very nice experience and learning took place through the interaction among participants and moderators.
4. Take an online course
If you are looking for a more in-depth professional development experience on the web, consider taking an online course. You don`t need to be a tech expert to take these courses but they require a good deal of self-discipline and dedication, specially when you do it for the first time. So, my tip is to start with a free course that lasts for a few weeks only and then, after you get the hang of it, go for the ones that are paid or require commitment for longer periods.
You may have heard of MOOCs before: Massive Open Online Courses. In a partnership with top universities around the globe, Coursera offers many courses for anyone to take for free. Unique experience for those willing to take courses offered by prestigious institutions , such as University of Michigan, Columbia, Princeton, Stanford, just to name a few. Check out the link for courses in the area of education:
SEETA stands for Southeastern Europe Teachers Association and gathers several professional from around the globe interested in professional development. It is a very active association that, from time to time, starts forums and discussions on relevant themes and offers webinars and online courses, all for free! In order to have access to everything, SEETA requires that you sign up as a member ,which, by the way, can be done at no cost.
TESOL is one of the largest and widely known associations for English teachers with ramifications all over the world. This means that what they offer to the teaching community is definitely reliable and of good quality. Their courses are not very cheap but are delivered by the top professionals in the field.
For those who are not willing to spend cash but still want to take courses supported by TESOL, the Electronic Village Online (EVO) is a great alternative. The free courses are offered every January and last for 5 weeks. Take a look at what was offered this year! Don`t forget to join their mailing list so that you can get a reminder for next year`s sessions!
Nickly Hockly, Shelly Terrell, Gavin Dudeney and Lindsay Clandfield are some of the names that you will find in this stellar team of professionals. The Consultants-E probably offers the best online courses in the field of educational technology. If that is your area of interest, then you must know about these guys and take one of the courses they offer. They are definitely worth the investment!
Here is a nice tip: for some courses, you can apply for a full-tuition scholarship!
Here is a nice tip: for some courses, you can apply for a full-tuition scholarship!
5. Browse through the web
In the past , if you wanted to read articles or learn content in your areas of interest, you had to buy books or subscribe to journals and magazines. Now, you can go to a search engine, type in a few words and discover a whole new world. There are excellent blogs, pages and online journals with fantastic reading material. If you can`t find any blogs in your area of interest, how about starting one? Here are a few of my favorite picks for your appreciation:
As you can see, you don`t need to wait days, weeks or months to attend the next seminar or spend lots of money to invest in the next move towards your carreer development. The web offers countless opportunities for continuing learning and sharing experiences like never seen before. These five suggestions cater to different professionals with different interests. If technology itself is not your goal, you can still use it to find people, groups, communities, blogs, pages and networks of professional with similar quests. As a matter of fact, most of my own PLN (Personal Learning Network) comes from the sources mentioned in this blog post. How did I learn about their existence? By chance while networking with different professionals in Twitter and Facebook.If you are thinking about ways of revamping your professional life in 2013, consider taking advantage of all the web can offer!