Professional development connects educators and is necessary to build relationships and gain trust between administrators and teachers. But these interactive sessions of professional growth don’t always have to be in-person. Virtual PD is an ideal option for schools that don’t have the budget to cover travel expenses, guest speakers or consultants. Plus, it relieves the logistical headache of trying to schedule one PD session that works for everyone’s schedule. No wonder the idea of virtual PD is becoming a reality for many administrators.
Here’s how to make it work with for you.
- Choose Your Weapon. Nearly every tablet, laptop and smartphone are equipped with a quality camera and microphone, putting the tools you need to video conference literally in the palm of your hand. All you have to do is choose which platform to use: Skype or Hangouts? Google users will find using Hangouts is second nature. Hangouts works for one-on-one conversations or group chats – up to 100 people. Plus you can add photos, maps, emoji, stickers and GIFs. Microsoft’s Skype is one of most well-known, most used video conferencing tools. Skype is also optimized for newer Android devices that allows it run faster and uses less device resources. Both of these platforms easily connect with their own networking groups like MSFT Edu #TweetMeets or #GoogleEI on Twitter.
- Prepare Well. Make the most of your virtual experience. Choose a quiet space and make sure you have headphones or earbuds at the ready. Grab some drinks and snacks before you settle in. Block off time on your calendar so others know you’re busy; act like you are driving to a conference and thus can’t attend any last-minute meetings or appointments. Plan out the sessions you want to attend ahead of time.
- Follow Up. Professional development is only as good as you want to make it. Take notes about the PD session and add them to your OneNote Staff Notebook page or blog. Or, go one step further and try collaborative note taking with a shared Google Doc. Once the PD is over, complete any evaluations and check if a recording of the session will be available for later use. Search out Twitter feeds in relation to the PD and follow anyone who has interesting perspectives about the discussed topics.
Virtual PD is cost-effective, schedule-friendly and gives you access to collaborators, experts and consultants that you may not have had before. Are you a virtual PD convert? Let us know in the comments below.