You might think that once you earn your degree and get a teaching certificate, you are set for life as an educator. However, the truth of the matter is that teachers never stop learning. Not only do teachers learn from their peers, as well as from their students, but they can also enroll in professional development courses to continue to hone their skills and update their knowledge base. As a teacher or professor, there are free online professional development courses with certificates that provide educators with the means to continue improving their skills and enhancing their teaching processes.
With professional development courses, everyone involved in education can benefit, from teachers to students and administrators alike. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of professional development, as well as handy resources to make your goals a reality.
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What is Professional Development?
Professional development covers a wide range of topics. Professional development can be structured as in-person or online courses, day-long lectures, or conferences that aim to further one’s educational knowledge.
Those who partake in professional development can focus on an array of options, with topics that can be: subject-specific, focused on mentorship, educational approaches, technology, leadership, advanced degrees, and more.
Professional development provides teachers with a way to continue expanding their skillset and to update their teaching practices to fall in line with new technology, educational standards, and the ever changing landscape of students’ needs.
Benefits of Online Professional Development Courses
Since the term professional development is so broad and can be tailored to one’s desired goals, there are so many different benefits that come from taking part in such courses, especially online.
By being able to partake in professional development online, teachers have heightened flexibility to manage their jobs and learning. Online courses can teach the latest educational theories and technologies. They can also offer insight into a deeper understanding of what it means to be a teacher.
Additionally, there are many free resources to continue pursuing professional development. Some online resources may offer certificates and even degrees, whereas others may give you the chance to interact with teachers from around the world to share ideas with one another.
Importantly, online professional development options are often less costly than their in-person classes and conferences. In fact, many of them are free. On top of it all, they don’t end when you complete the course.
To illustrate, many of these resources allow you to log back on and revisit past classes, webinars or discussions, so that you can continue to refresh your memory even after you have already completed the course.
In the same vein, those who take online professional development courses have the freedom to choose when they learn and study. This is pivotal because teachers are often overwhelmed with the time they spend in class teaching and the hours after work that they spend grading.
As education expands and evolves with both time and technological advances, teachers can promote their own career advancement by earning their professional development certificates online.
What Resources are Available?
There are many resources available to start online professional development courses today. From webinars to podcasts and online certificate-granting courses to degree programs, here’s a look at some of them:
Alison is a free online hub with teacher development and training courses. From coursework that trains teachers how to work with students with special needs to understanding diversity and students’ needs, teachers who enroll in Alison’s course offerings can expand their professional skill set. Alison offers certificates and diplomas, and it’s even possible to earn your degree online.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology leads an online coursework selection called MITOpenCourseWare. Educators can select the “Teaching and Education” topic and refine their search by sub-topic and specialties to enroll in classes online.
EdWeb.net is an online learning network designed for educators around the world to be able to share their insights and best practices. The platform offers free webinars and an interactive and collaborative space for professional learning communities to thrive.
TeachersFirst provides a series of live and hands-on workshops for professional development. Certificates are available if desired, and many of the courses will integrate technology into the curriculum.
Informative Podcasts to Learn More
Furthermore, not every teacher has the desire or need to take a full course or earn a certificate. Instead, they may want to learn on their own time just for fun or to enhance skills. For this, there are a variety of teacher-related podcasts that are worthwhile to check out. These include:
- Teachers Ask Jen Serravallo
- The Whole Child Podcast
- The Google Teacher Tribe Podcast
- TED Education – TED Talks Education
- The 10 Minute Teacher Podcast
Take it Further: Online Degrees
Perhaps your desire is to further enhance your career as an educator. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in any field, you can enroll in the University of the People’s online Master’s in Education in Advanced Teaching program. Students in the program can choose their speciality in elementary or secondary education and then take part in a curriculum that is globally-minded.
Furthermore, the University of the People’s program partners with the International Baccalaureate (IB), which means that with your degree, you are equipped to work at IB schools that require those who understand the IB pedagogy. The graduate program requires the completion of at least 13 courses, which can be done at one’s own pace either part-time or full-time.
To aid in professional development, the Master’s in Education degree allows its students to engage in classroom-based research to propel their instructional decision-making and curricular design process.
The Bottom Line
As with every profession, continued learning is a key to staying relevant and better serving yourself and the people you work with. As teachers and educators, learning standards constantly change and technology continues to impact the educational environment. As such, professional development is a key to stay relevant and improve one’s best practices to be the best teacher they can be.
Online professional development courses benefit teachers in a similar fashion that online universities benefit students. With increased flexibility, lower cost, and widened accessibility, online courses are a solid choice for those seeking to improve their skills as an educator.