Nov 24

4 great ways to modernize Professional Development

Let’s say that teacher professional development is not an event but rather a process that teachers go through to gain knowledge and skills to develop on a personal level as well as attain career advancement.
By this rational, teachers don’t actually need to go anywhere to go through the process of maintaining and improving their professional competence. And, as a result, the 21st century is seeing significant growth in online professional development.


Below are 4 amazing ways in which teacher professional development is modernizing;


Personal Learning Network is the best way for educators to get connected with learning opportunities. It is a way to access professional development resources, and a way to build trust with other educators. Although PLNs have been around for some years, these networks to grow tremendously. Now, teachers can expand and connect with their networks around the world at any time and any place.

How educators can develop their professional and personal learning network:
Actively make ties: It’s not enough to just follow or read other peoples work. Teachers need to also connect by leaving comments, replying to questions, and starting conversations on places such as wikis
Join Twitter chats: Educators can chat, collaborate, and connect through Twitter chats like #edchat and #edmeet.
Sharing lesson plans, presentations, and documents: Use services like Tumblr, Edublogs, or Facebook to share lesson plans with their learning network.
Crowd-source ideas: Teachers should turn to their PLN to crowdsource ideas or perform social searches.
Use Twitter resources to discover more people to follow: Check out following/follower lists, RTs, #followfriday suggestions, and Twitter lists of the people other educators admire to find even more great resources to add.
Discover new people to add to your network: Lots of educators use social media as a passive way to check out people they’d like to add to their personal learning networks. They analyze the quality of their posts, point of view, and signal to noise to decide if they’d make a good addition to their network.
Start conversations: Use a social media accounts to ask questions and spark conversations that encourage new thinking.
Find new blogs and resources to follow using social bookmarking: Social bookmarking services like Diigo and Delicious can help not only find great blogs and resources, but also get teachers connected with other educators.

Examples of popular social media tools:
Classroom 2.0: In this networking group educators get connected with other educators who are interested in Web 2.0, social media, and much more.
Ning: On Ning educators create their own social website to bring their PLN together all in one place.
Diigo: offers educators to collect, highlight, remember, and share resources they find online. It is also know as an online bookmarking tool.
Google Reader: is a RSS tool in which educators subscribe to blogs they want to follow.
SlideShare: offers a place to upload presentations to share with other learning network.
LinkedIn: is the absolute best place for education professionals to get connected.
Twitter: Perfect for finding people and is one of the most powerful tools for growing and maintaining a personal network.
Facebook: Facebook is a great place to connect, share, and grow your network both personally as well as professionally. Another wonderful hub for PLNs.
Scribd: offers reading, publishing, and sharing documents. Educators can share novels or lectures self written or written by others. It is a good place to get connected with their owners of the written pieces.
Yahoo! Answers: Educators can find and share information in Yahoo!Answers. They can also connect with others, and build upon their PLN.
Quora: offers a professional place to share your knowledge and grow your network.
Google+: is a growing network that offers lots of great possibilities for developing PLNs.
Pinterest: offers a great way to find other educators, and great resources.
Delicious: One of the most popular social bookmarking sites on the web, Delicious makes it easy to share what was found and to find new followers for a PLN.
Paper.li: Using Paper.li, educators can curate and share PLN tweets.
Scoop.it: is a great tool for curating an engaging PLN magazine based on resources.
AddThis: offers a great way to share web resources on the web’s most popular social media tools through the AddThis toolbar.


Increasingly, a larger variety of institutions are offering their courses online for free. The courses are basically for anyone with a computer and an internet connection. These so-called Massively Open Online Course courses (MOOC) are a part of a revolution in professional development. Unlike simple lectures or online degrees, MOOCs are complete courses with homework, exams and grades. They are a modern development in the area of distance education, and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources.


Open Educational Resources are openly formatted and openly licensed documents and media. They are freely accessible and useful for teaching, learning, education, assessment and research purposes. The availability OERs (tools and curriculum) is growing at a fast pace for teachers and these resources now offer digital content and produce high quality educational content just for educational purposes. While many teachers are already using digital resources to instruct students and support teaching/learning, the growing trend now is to liberate content from the constraints placed upon content distribution by the publishing industry. Companies like Apple have made major announcements that entirely shift the way that educational content is both created and distributed.  Organizations, educational institutions, private entities, and state and national governments have put dollars and emphasis behind developing content that can be openly distributed and shared at minimal or no cost for the purpose of encouraging wide-spread educational improvement and reform.
This module introduces you to some of the major Open Educational Resources that are presently available for consumption by students and teachers.

This module is intended to be an exploratory experience where users can investigate the resources of greatest interest to them.  Users are strongly encouraged to share meaningful discoveries with colleagues to improve student access to high quality digital instructional content and manipulatives.


A more creative way of looking at online professional development is through gamification. Games offer and encourage greater levels of intrinsic motivation as well creating a positive ‘engagement economy’

It is understandable that this new way of learning through games is debatable but according to Jane McGonigal, gaming is becoming a way to save the world in the future. Gaming is not a new educational device. The military have employed games in various forms for many years. Researchers are developing games in which current and future needs of professional development of engineers are addressed. Games are more stimulating and require less overhead. In his blog posts, Paul Braddock talks about The School Game that he has developed. The game is designed mainly for school teachers and is aimed to help them in their professional development. The idea is fantastic and in time will be widely successful.


Next Step:
Now that I’ve got you thinking about modern ways to better yourself as a teacher in the 21st century, here are some discussion questions to ask yourself, your fellow colleagues and the admin at your school;

  • In what ways do you think these new ways of PD can lead to increased participation in professional development?
  • Which social networks (i.e. Twitter, Google+, Blogging) does your school currently use for professional development and how have they been helpful?
  • In what ways does your school currently develop your teaching and knowledge of teaching?
  • If you don’t currently use modernized forms of professional development, how do you think these could be helpful?
  • Where and how will you be learning and teaching in 5, 10, 15 years time?
  • To what extent are your colleagues and/or students aware of what’s happening in and outside a 21st classroom? Check out the infographic below!







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  1. Avatar of eroth

    Thanks for all these resources, Sanne. This is something I’m going to hang onto!

  2. Avatar of Sanne Bloemarts
    Sanne Bloemarts

    Thanks, I’m so glad I found the infographic at the end too. It’s definitely something I see schools using!

  3. Joy

    I love this. There is so much here but it is all easy to follow and easy to share. I will be passing this on to everyone I know. :)

  4. Avatar of Jeff Utecht
    Jeff Utecht

    I’m wondering how far away are we from the educator taking full control for their PD and stop relying on schools to do the PD for us?

    A great list of resources that I just keep thinking looking at and saying to myself: Why do schools fly me in to do PD for their teachers? When will schools expect teachers to do their own PD?

    I know this ruins my consulting business but really….do we still need people to fly into our schools to teach us? Or should this be on the teacher to go learn where they want and from who they want for free or little money.

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