On the Horizon: 20+ Free Professional Development Opportunities for 2012

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Part of the Cool Sites series

January is the month when many of us are motivated to accomplish our goals for the year. If you are like me then you may have experienced several years of getting goals accomplished then felt defeated. In April 2009, I joined Twitter and began collaborating and communicating with educators and found that this interaction helped me accomplish goals and so much more. With free social media platforms you can begin to develop and harness the power of your Personal/ Passionate Learning Network (PLN) to accomplish goals. Social media provides us with incredible opportunities to choose the way we want to develop professionally. You can choose the topic, the medium, and who you want to learn from. Moreover, online professional development is packed with various types of multimedia experiences, such as webinars, virtual learning environments, discussion forums, live video, podcasts, web 2.0 creation tools, and more. The experience is usually dynamic and motivating because you are learning with others around the world! Below is a list of courses, programs, and webinars that offer you the opportunity to continue learning in 2012.
Upcoming Free Professional Development
The 30 Goals Challenge– Over 7000 educators have participated in the 1st and 2nd cycles of this global challenge for educators with the premise of getting you to complete 30 professional development goals in one year. These are short-term goals, such as guest posting, changing your classroom environment, providing effective feedback, establishing an online presence, and engaging with parents. We begin the 2012 cycle this week. To keep up to date, please join the 30 Goals Facebook group or you can easily follow through Twitter by checking out the #30goals hashtag. You don’t even have to have a Twitter account to get the tweets. You can easily subscribe through RSS.
Free Friday Webinars- Thanks to the American TESOL Institute, I conduct free 30 minute online webinars every Friday at 4pm EST (New York), 3pm Texas, 1pm LA, 7pm Brasilia, 9pm London, 10pm Paris, 11pm Athens/Istanbul, Sat 8am Sydney, and Sat. 6am Tokyo.

TESOL’s free Electronic Village Online (EVO) sessions– These are free online 5 week courses that start January 9th and end February 12th. You can choose from several courses including the Digital Storytelling for Young Learners one I am moderating with a dream team (Esra Girgin, Barbara Sakamoto, Özge Karaoglu, Jennifer Verschoor, David Dodgson, Michelle Worgan, and Sabrina De Vita)
Simple K12 webinars– Attend free webinars with experts on various topics. In 2012, I will be hosting a few of these webinars! Simple K12 was the winner of the Edublogs Award for Best Webinar Series.
Free Webinars by the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG– Learn about various technologies and how to integrate them effectively in the classroom. January 15th is the first one this year, Cool Activities with IWBs. I will be hosting one on March 25th, Integrating Collaborative Projects with ICTs.
Join the online International Teachmeet event where you will see over 20 teachers worldwide present about various topics in 3 minutes! The next one is March 3rd, but you can sign-up to present now.
The Virtual Round Table E-Conference– ELTon nominated free online conference focusing on language and technology. Unique in that participants can attend via a live video conference or in Second Life. Check out the next conference in April 2012.
Edublogs Live Events– Every week, attend a free webinar on various topics. Usually, Jo and Phil Hart hosts these free webinars that cover effective use of web 2.0 tools or instructional methodologies.
Future of Education– Steve Hargadon will be hosting a free worldwide virtual Future of Education: Learning 2.0 conference January 23 – 27, 2012.
Classroom 2.0 Live Events– Every week, attend a free webinar with an expert in a field or listen to some great authors speak live and ask them questions.
Integrating Technology for Active Lifelong Learning (IT4ALL)– provides free online workshops on Moodle for Teachers (Orientation, Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced), Professional Electronic Portfolios (PEP), WebQuests, Facilitating Online Classes, Grant Writings, TESOL, Integrating Technology and using Web 2.0 in the classroom.
Attend Second Life Live Events– Second Life has several educational groups that meet weekly for free conferences, talks, workshops, and more. Download the software and register for free. Consider joining these educational groups- ISTE on Second Life, Discovery Educator Network, EDTECH Retreat, EDTECH Community, or Visit Edunation Island– a safe place for educators
#Edchat– Join over 2000 educators every Tuesday to discuss various topics you get to vote for and suggest.
Education Chats on Twitter– Find out the dates and times of educational conversations that occur on Twitter.
Free Online Classes Throughout the Year!
Although many of these don’t necessarily start in January, these free courses are worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the year! They are free online courses taught by authors, subject matter experts, and university lecturers.
SEETA Courses– The South Eastern Europe Teachers Association offers several week courses with a guest author or expert in the field. You will have to register, but the courses are free!
MOOC– Massive Open Online Courses where 1000s attend for free through discussion forums and free webinars. Follow the hashtag #MOOC for the latest MOOC. University professors, TED speakers, and notable educational theorists moderate these courses. You learn from the very best in our field! Topics range from Personal Learning Networks to Mobile Learning!
MIT Open Course Ware offers over 1900 free online courses in over 20 subjects. You can subscribe by RSS or get e-mail updates.
Stanford on iTunes– Download courses, faculty lectures, interviews, music and sports that will play on your iPod, iPad, iPhone, Mac or PC.
17 Universities with free online courses– Find out how to access these free courses from some of the most respected universities in the world! This article also describes the experience of learning through these online classes.
250 Free Online Courses– Find a list of several more free online courses from the top universities categorized by subject.
Challenge:Try any of these professional development opportunities and blog about your experience.
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What are your favorite ways to learn online? Did I miss any other great professional development opportunities starting in January?

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