Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PD, Webinars and Web 2.0 Mastery

Let's face it, there are thousands of tools out there that can be used in the classroom, with kids or without, to make education better or worse, but, how on earth do we know what we should use and how to decide when to use it?  I have spent so many hours learning about things on my own until this past summer when I decided to embark on the free webinar.  I attended a lot of them and left with a huge amount of knowledge I wasn't expecting.  I decided my best bet is to share these fantastic sites with other educators so they might hop on board and try to dabble in the webinar method of professional development.
 So, let's look at some places that offer free and quality webinars.

SimpleK12.  First and foremost, SimpleK12 is a fantastic place to visit to learn about everything web 2.0.  The company has two methods to their use, first of all, everyone creates an account.  To access live webinars, you simply sign up using a free or paid version.  To access archived webinars, you must be a member.  Membership has a lot of perks, however.  You can get certificates for your attendance and access to thousands of free ebooks to assist you in the edtech journey.  I attended about 12 webinars through this site and folks, they get great people to do them.  I learned a lot about google, about polling sites, just to name a few.   They had a program called "A Day of Learning" that ran almost every Tuesday during the summer.  There were scads of free webinars those days. All of them are 30 minutes, you can usually join a few minutes before and stick around a little after to ask questions. I tried to attend as many as I could.  I am still registered for some upcoming ones, as the programs don't stop when school is in session.  This is a great site to check out.  It's worth the time because their webinars are great. 

edweb.  Follett software company has donated to this organization.  It's set up a little like simplek12 with free webinars, etc.  But here, you join communities and find your lessons based on the communities you want to learn about.  Being a librarian, I have taken a lot of library webinars. The webinars are archived and you can access them after the fact. They run several series for educators that offer a lot of great services. Their speakers are often some that do simplek12 webinars as well.  I can honestly tell you, I have had nothing bad come from one of their webinars.  I have learned something in every one.

ASCD I can't lie, I have never taken one of their webinars but they have such an extensive collection that there has to be something for everyone. Most of them are geared toward administrators, but, as a teacher, it can't hurt to know policy and what's coming down the pipeline. They also have a massive archive of past webinars.

PBS Yes, the television station has webinars.  They offer an archive of classroom 2.0 techniques.  There are some good ideas here.

Eschoolnews I get a lot of email from eschoolnews but, sometimes a webinar pops up in the email.  I haven't tried one, but they exist and they are often free. Most of them are technology related.

Google Google has a training to be a google certified trainer.  You take the webinars at your own pace.  This is a great place to start if your district is adopting google for education as the platform.  There are hundreds of tools via google to use.  I am doing just the docs webinar.  It's six hours long but divided. Some are shorter.

Edmodo Last but not least, Edmodocon.  In August of each year, Edmodo has an online conference that teaches about edmodo.  If you can't make it, the conference is supposed to be archived.  It's a lot like a webinar.

This article just names a few places to attend free webinars.  There are a lot of other sites out there that offer similar opportunities. (Free online conferences, tutorials, web training, etc.)  A few suggestions: some send a lot of email.  You might set up a free account just for these sites.  Also, don't be afraid to ask questions.  Some places have archives and will send you links to see if you are interested in their site.  You might get a free webinar or two on a trial basis.

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