Administration Technology Planning, Catholic Schools, Connecting, Nets-A, Online Learning, Professional Development, Tech Leadership, Virtual Academy

Online Options for Professional Learning

Flashes of Light









It is the flash which appears, the thunderbolt will follow. Voltaire

Ask an educator to describe a professional development or training day.
Do the words engaging, collaborative, enlightening, empowering come up? They should.
If your school or district is relying solely on sit down, one size fits all training, there is a good chance you are not getting the
participant satisfaction, or more importantly,  the results your school and your students need.

Making professional development days both effective and engaging is critically important as it is ultimately beneficial to students. A wide array of professional development options exist today which take advantage of the latest technologies and today’s rich online social learning environment. Adults today are accustomed to accomplishing many things online on their own time in a self directed fashion. There has been no better time than the present for taking a close look at online options for professional learning.

Blended learning is not only for students. Blended learning can be a real and powerful force in professional development. In the book Blended Learning by Curtis Bonk, we are reminded that Blended Learning is a concept whose time has come. Though the term ‘blended learning’ has been around since 1920, today’ s use of blended learning involves ‘technology mediated learning’.

  • Anytime
  • Online Resources
  • Media Rich
  • Learner Choice

How can schools open options to teachers and administrators beyond the simple one size fits all ‘sit and learn’ sessions? How can your school adapt and incorporate these new means of learning for teachers?

Online and Blended Professional Development Options for Educators

  1. Online Professional Learning Community – Consider using an online community for teachers. There, teachers can discuss topics relative to their schools and classrooms. They can pursue resources to support school academic goals and collaborative projects. Many schools administrators have found this to be an effective means for connecting with teachers outside of regular professional development days. Online communities can be made private for your faculty only.
  2. Virtual Sessions –  Provide online professional development. Archive it for later viewing. In the schools in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, virtual academy classes have been offered since September of 2009. They begin their third year in September. This has been an effective solution for providing professional development across a broad geographic area. Covering many 21st century learning themes, virtual sessions have been made optional to teachers and administrators during after school hours. As a result, 15% of teachers attended virtual sessions outside of school hours. Many more accessed the archives.
  3. Form a Professional Learning Network (PLN) – Teach teachers to connect online to other educators and to other ideas by forming a Professional Learning Network. Today’s web tools such as Twitter, Google Reader, Delicious and others allow teachers to read and comment on blogs and literally enter the classrooms of others online. Online communities exist also where teachers can network with one another sharing excellent resources. These connections can infuse teachers with new ideas, new strategies and allow for global connections in his/her classroom.
  4. Record Site Based Sessions – If you do happen to hold site based sessions, be sure to record them for later viewing. A teacher who was absent from the session or wishes to access it later for any reason will be happy to find it that it has been archived.

Increasingly adults carry out many tasks online. Why not provide access online professional development too?   Administrators and school CIOs can tap in to blended online learning professional learning options to create meaningful experiences for learning in today’s classrooms. A wide array of professional development options exist today which take advantage of the latest technologies and more importantly harness today’s rich online social learning environment.


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