Online LearningThere is a growing number of websites that offer free, quality professional development, many with an interactive or collaborative component.

You may know the Library of Congress (LOC) website for its wealth of resources dedicated to primary documents, historical information and current events. But LOC is also an excellent source for professional development. You can request interactive, distance learning programs or review videoconferences of LOC’s core programs. The Teaching with Primary Sources program advertises itself as “free, easy to use, standards based” and “appropriate for all educators.” The Professional Development Builder is a robust series of 15 downloadable modules related to understanding, analyzing and teaching with primary sources. Topics include Abraham Lincoln, photographs, sheet music, maps, political cartoons and artifacts.

Self-directed online modules are also available from LOC. These six self-paced and interactive modules give you the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion for one hour of staff development. Topics include:

  • Introduction to the Library of Congress
  • Supporting Inquiry with Primary Sources
  • Copyright and Primary Sources
  • Analyzing Primary Sources: Photographs and Prints
  • Analyzing Primary Sources: Maps and Finding Primary Sources.

Watch the LOC site for upcoming announcements of applications for the 2013 Summer Teaching Institutes, held in Washington, D.C.

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Learning Center offers live 90-minute, online seminars. The webinars use technology that allows participants to interact with national experts, NSTA authors, scientists, engineers and education specialists. Upcoming seminars include High-Power Microscopes: The Virtual Lab, Engineering Design Challenge, Exploravision Tips and Online Resources, Distance/Rate/Time Problems, Holiday Chemistry and much more. Webinars are free but you must register to login.

The Center for Learning provides “free webcasts, articles, and resources for 21st-century educators.” The center’s offerings include renowned speakers and topics such as:

  • Will Richardson--Personal Learning Networks: The Future of Learning
  • David Sousa--How can differentiation be achieved—without putting too much burden on teachers?
  • Dr. Douglas Reeves--Keys to Implementing the Common Core State Standards
  • Eric Jensen--Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do about It
  • Sam Wineburg--Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past.

Concept to Classroom offers a series of free, self-paced workshops on educational theories as well as methodology. Titles include: After School Programs: From Vision to Reality; Assessment, Cooperative and Collaborative Learning; Inquiry-based Learning; Tapping into Multiple Intelligences and Interdisciplinary Learning in Your Classroom.

Teacher Reboot Camp, subtitled “Challenging Ourselves to Engage Our Students,” lists upcoming, free, professional development. There are links to websites: 30 Goals Challenge, TESOL’s free Electronic Village online, Simple K-12 webinars, Webinars by the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG, International Teachmeet, Second Life Live Events and links to free online classes including MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), MIT Open Course Ware and Stanford on iTunes.

OK2Ask® is “a series of online ‘snack sessions’ (available both live and in archived format) for self-directed teacher professional development and exploration.” This site, from TeachersFirst, is advertising-free, as well as free to use. Live sessions include video and audio, with text chat and a moderator, but there are archived sessions as well. Examples are:

  • Find It, Use It: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons
  • Envision, Engage: Getting Started With Project-Based Learning Using TeachersFirst
  • Whiteboards and the Web: Strategies for Student Centered Learning
  • Creative Classroom Chaos: How to Implement Student-Centered Activities Using Computers—A Sharing Session!
  • A Safe Journey to the Edge: Intro to Web 2.0 Tools
  • Guided Wiki Walk: Step by Step to Create Your Own Classroom Wiki.

Annenberg Learner from the Annenberg Foundation is a multi-faceted site where you can view workshops and courses online or purchase them to re-use. Both include a Teacher-Talk email list and linked websites with supporting materials, activities and forums. Topics include arts, education theory and issues, history and social studies, literature and language arts, mathematics and science.

Ten Websites Offering Free Online Teacher Education is an eclectic collection of free courses, many from universities, and some offering professional development credits. The current listing is:

  • Early Education and Care in Inclusive Settings (University of Massachusetts)
  • Tapping into Multiple Intelligences (Thirteen Ed Online)
  • Teaching Evolution (PBS Teachers)
  • Using Film Music in the Classroom (The Open University)
  • Lessons From the Deep: Exploring the Gulf of Mexico’s Deep-Sea Ecosystems (The College of Exploration)
  • The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice (Annenberg Learner)
  • Teacher Development: Starter Kit for Teaching Online (Edutopia)
  • Teaching Students with Special Needs: Behaviour Management (University of Southern Queensland)
  • Intro to Instructional Design (Utah State University)
  • Gifted and Talented Education (University of California)

Take time to explore the linked websites – you may find other courses or workshops that are also of interest and offered for free.

Intel features professional development through its Intel ® Teach Program (technology integration for problem-solving and critical thinking), Teach Elements (short interactive eLearning courses), Math Program (K-8 rigorous mathematics concepts), and Teachers Engage (a global online community).

Education Week provides on-demand and PD webinars archived and accessible for a limited time after the original live streaming date. You can also download accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Current titles include:

  • How to Secure and Manage the Untethered Classroom (addresses anytime, anywhere learning and its challenges)
  • Using RTI & Data-Driven Strategies in the Common-Core Era
  • Teaching 21st-Century Skills Outside the School Day (includes mobile gaming in after-school programs and high-tech public libraries)
  • Creating Learning Connections: Effective Use of Social Media in the Classroom
  • Math Practices and the Common Core
  • Engaging Parents in Schools and Student Learning
  • Spurring Latino Students to Higher Achievement
  • When Cyberbullying Spills Into School

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