It gets harder and harder to send teachers to professional conferences. The costs are high, scheduling is difficult, and funding sources aren’t readily available. Just as important, pulling a teacher out of the classroom, even to do worthwhile staff development, shortchanges the students.
Last fall, the K12 Online Conference changed the paradigm for professional meetings. Instead of pulling teachers out of the classroom, sending them off to a different city, and having them physically attend conference sessions, this conference took place entirely online. It lasted for three weeks in October, with strands covering a week in the classroom, personal professional development, and overcoming obstacles. The presentations were both interactive and asynchronous. The opening keynote was a video that people could watch at their own convenience. At the same time, there was a discussion board and live voice and text chats scheduled to discuss this content. Throughout the conference, there were both pre-recorded and live interactive activities. The conference drew attendees from all over the world. Some immersed themselves entirely in the event. Others just watched or listened to a single presentation during a planning period or on their way home from work.
Did you miss it? That’s okay. All of the content is still available on the web site. You can watch or listen to the conference sessions, read the discussion forums, and comment on the issues and topics raised in the sessions. There are RSS feeds for each week, so you could subscribe to them as podcasts (though there aren’t any new episodes).
Right now, they’re getting ready for the 2007 conference, which will take place in October again. Teachers from all over the world will be able to participate live. Others will watch, listen, and interact with the content later. Some will even get graduate credit for participating.
Assignment: Go to the 2006 K12 Online Conference. Watch or listen to at least one of the presentations. Mark your calendar for the 2007 Conference, which takes place October 15 – 26. Start lobbying the powers that be in your school to get some release time to participate in the 2007 conference.