PD and Jammies Can Happen at the Same Time - No Travel Required

Jeannie.Standal's picture

Finding school library-specific professional development (PD) can be hard to manage. The big conferences and formal courses are expensive and most involve travel.  To further complicate the matter, getting time away from school, arranging a substitute (if that's an option), and myriad other obstacles make this best practice not practicable for many school librarians.

Luckily, it is the digital age and there are a number of high quality, virtual conferences, webinars and other options available from the comfort of your own computer (and jammies)!  For example, just a few weeks ago there were sessions available from the likes of Barbara Stripling and Joyce Valenza at a virtual conference for school librarians. An added advantage to virtual conferences: they are often archived, so if you can't attend live, you can still watch the sessions later - so convenient!

If this seems like a workable solution for PD dilemas, here are a few places to start:

Library 2.0 is a ning brought to us by a large group of partners including San Jose State University. They recently produced a Teacher Librarian Day  virtual preconference in partnership with Rutgers University that was perfectly timed so that nearly the whole thing took place after the school day in Idaho's time zones.  This site links to some other education-related networks that are worth the time to explore.  The Global Education Conference is coming up from November 16-19, and all the sessions will be archived and easy to select according to your needs. It is free and easy to join Library 2.0, and they don't send junk email. (Hurray!)

The Digital Shift is an annual virtual conference produced by Library Journal and School Library Journal.  It is a virtual event with real world conference mainstays like an Exhibit Hall with vendors available to talk, an Auditorium where the keynotes speak, and a lounge where participants can chat with colleagues.  Attendees can download resources and presentation slides, participate in Q&A sessions with authors, and sign up for give aways.  The archive from last month's conference is available now! You do not have to subscribe to the publication to register for the event.

School Library Journal also hosts the SummerTeen Summit every August.  It is a really fun virtual conference for those who work with teens to get motivated for the upcoming school year!  It's another high quality conference with a real world feel. Last August's archive is available and, again, you don't have to subscribe to register for the event.

ALA's Booklist webinars offer a peek at the upcoming releases from various publishers.  Each participating publisher gets time to pitch their newest titles, making this an excellent way to keep up with new releases, but each webinar is limited to a fully packed hour. Booklist will send notifications of upcoming webinars to anyone who has signed up in the past, so once you attend one it is easy to sign up for the next.

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is a relatively new organization that partners with other institutions to make millions of digitized items available and searchable for anyone.  They occasionally host webinars to showcase new services and they recently held one called "Using DPLA for Teaching and Learning" which focused on primary source sets.  Super useful for schools.

Ted Talks cover a wide range of topics in mostly 15-20 minute presentations.  Each talk is inspirational, thought-provoking, funny or educational and many times, all of the above. There are quite a few talks on different takes on education.  

#TLChat is a monthly Q1/A1 discussion held on the second Monday of each month via Twitter.  Notable school librarians such as Gwyneth Jones, Tiff  Whitehead, Jennifer LeGarde and more participate and volunteer to "provoke/sustain" the chat.  It is equally acceptable to chat or to lurk. The archive is available at tlchat.wikispaces.com.

If that isn't enough, there are blogs galore!  A few are linked ot the School Libraries page of the ICfL website, but that is only a taste of what is available. In addition, the ABLE and sABLE modules on the Continuing Education page of the ICfL website are popular all over the world for basic library training for newbies and experienced alike.

This short list is only a sampling of formal and informal PD that is available at your fingertips.  The resources listed here are free, but there are even more options available that are not free.

Do a little resource sharing of your own!  If you have a favorite digital resource for professional development, please share with Idaho's library community on Facebook on the ICfL School Libraries page (and please "Like" us while you are there) or tweet using #ICfL.