In the month of May there are 3 really good webinars (with handout materials) being offered. I am particularly interested in the presentation by Heidi Hayes Jacobs about 21st Century Learning and Teaching. She is very smart and gets what educators need to do to make learning a lot more effective and interesting.
While the webinars are great, I think the big idea is that I feel our school could just as easily create webinars of our own and host them locally or upload them to YouTube. We had a faculty meeting yesterday and there is so much that needs to be done, yet the school still starts and stops at the same time. I really think we need to move towards offering professional development in a way that lets teachers take the course at a time when they have the ability to focus for a while without being interrupted.
With online development, we can offer more options and we can differentiate what we have to offer. Some teachers have the capability to independently learn a topic - this would be great for that group. Other people (myself included sometimes) really needs to wrestle with an idea and discuss it with others - this online option is great for them too! It seems like the above cases are contradictory, but they do make sense. By allowing independent learners to continue, we can meet their needs and give much more time and focus to those who are having difficulty with a concept. Also, sometimes there is just one sticking point that holds up learning. Once that is overcome, the person can go on working and learning independently.
A side benefit to offering PD online is that more teachers become exposed to online learning and they can now go out and apply that method to their classroom. I could really see a math class where independent learners could view a short video and begin an assignment (asking questions if the get stuck of course) while struggling students receive targeted instruction in much smaller groups. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
I would love to hear your thoughts.