This past week I moderated the 6th PD in your PJs for my district. On the second Tuesday of the month we host a Google Hangout On Air about a topic chosen by the teachers. This has been years in the making as I began to search for ways to provide professional development in a alternate ways to fit the busy lives of teachers. I had began attending sessions at TCEA that addressed online professional development the past few years, but all those folks had used a paid for service to host the sessions. Something my district was not going to pay for.
In the meantime I enrolled Lamar University’s online master’s program for Educational Technology Leadership. I chose this program because I had two small children at home and a husband that worked long hours. I needed to have flexibility in when and where I attended classes and got my assignments done. Most of it happened after 8:30 at night and on the weekends. Getting my mater’s was a life long dream of mine, it just took a while to figure out what I wanted it in. I appreciated that this program allowed me to further my education and still be a mom to my kids. I wanted professional development to do the same thing!
Enter Google Apps for Education and Google Hangouts. Finally tools that were free and that worked for what we wanted to do. It started with testing out the tools within the department I work for with Lunch and Learn type of training. This allowed us to learn in a safe environment. After a few months of that I wanted to branch out and offer this type of training to teachers so that those with outside commitments could still increase their knowledge and become better technology users. We offer 1 hour of professional development credit for attending and filling out the reflection form. Participants get to hear from knowledgeable folks from across the district brought to their living rooms. The nice part is that the program is recorded and is available for viewing at any time to fit any schedule. So far we have given over 200 hours of pd credit to teachers.
There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to make this work, but it is doable for anyone that wants to offer teachers flexibility in how and when they learn. I am excited to keep this opportunity going this school year and to see what else will come of this.