Thing 18: Online Learning & DIY PD

Learnning is a choice


All of you have already had online learning and DIY professional development experiences through this workshop and likely through other courses and webinars as well. We have so many different ways to learn online – from short webinars to multi-week ecourses and even full degrees.

The resources in this week’s lesson focus on helping YOU find ways to learn the things that you want & need to learn. Though we aren’t going to cover online learning for students specifically, many of the ideas and resources can apply to them as well.

I’m a huge believer in setting your own learning goals, while working with your administrators & colleagues to make sure that your goals are realistic and fit in with the overall goals for your department/school. There’s really nothing worse than being forced to sit through a PD session or workshop that you have no interest in and has no connection with the work you do. Having taught many PD sessions for school districts, I’ve always felt sad for the folks who tell me they’re only there because they have to be and then proceed to zone out (at best!). I want them to find something that engages and inspires them and maybe that means being more flexible with those PD days.

It was exciting to hear that in one school district, the librarians taking this CoolTools workshop were able to use a PD day to work on these workshop lessons. What a great example of flexible learning. Many of you have made great use of the “You Choose” topic recently to pursue what you are interested in. Here’s a growing list of this year’s “You Choose” posts and a listly list of the projects from past years.

Along these lines, wouldn’t it be great if we (and our students) had some official time set aside to pursue our own professional interests? It’s interesting to see this becoming a trend in education, as it has in some industries. It’s sometimes called “genius hour” or “20% time.” Some articles on the topic:


Webinars, eCourses, Podcasts

Webinar Schedules

These sites maintain listings of upcoming webinars of interest to librarians.


  • EdReach – “EdReach provides a platform for passionate, outspoken innovators, taking education forward by discussing the critical education issues of the day.”
  • TechChickTips – Great podcast with tips about tech tools for use in education. (hasn’t been updated in a while, I keep hoping they’ll come back!)
  • EdTech Radio – Part of a larger education related podcast network. Lots of interesting and insightful discussions of education topics.
  • EduAllStars
  • 2014 Edublogs nominees in media category – includes a number of interesting podcasts


Massive Open Online Courses – Even though you may not have heard the term till recently, the term has been around since 2008. With the ease of creating online learning spaces and ever increasing connectivity, this kind of learning has grown like crazy. Of course there are controversies too. How many people sign up and don’t complete (raising my hand on that one!), how to assess what has been learned and so on. Regardless, there are lots of MOOCs available. Even if you don’t take one, you should be aware of some of the major places to find them. And keep these in mind for your students who are passionate about a topic, a MOOC might be just the thing for them.

  • edX, Coursera and Udacity are the leaders in offering MOOCs
  • HyperLibMOOC – Dr Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones ran this MOOC for library professionals in the fall of 2013 and may run again in the future. This was a highly successful experiment running an online learning experience that encouraged and supported a high level of engagment and interaction between participants. Even though you can’t “take” the course at this point, the learning materials are still available. Module 2 is particularly interesting for school librarians, it’s a guest lecture by Sarah Ludwig, Dean of Digital and Library Services at the Ethel Walker School.
  • Empowering Yourself as a Digital Citizen – This course will prepare participants to be active digital citizens who evaluate information in 21st century social environments, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), while making individual and collaborative contributions to these spaces as self-reflective and empowered learners. Those who demonstrate mastery of each of the modules in this course will be awarded the Digital Citizen badge.
  • Library Advocacy Unshushed: Values, evidence, action – This MOOC from University of Toronto is just ending.
  • MetaLiteracy MOOC – Run through U Albany by Tom Mackey and Trudi Jacobson

Informal Learning

What’s the role for informal learning in our Learning Plans? How do things like Twitter, Facebook, professional social media groups, EdCamps and Unconferences fit in? Many of us turn to these tools when we need to explore an idea or figure out how to do something. You probably won’t get PD credits for a twitter conversation, but you may find just the person who can help you learn more about somethign you need to know.

Things to Read, View, Think About


Some ideas for this topic’s activities include:

  • Create your own personalized learning plan. Explore resources and think about what you need and want to learn over the next year. What resources can you use? Will you get PD credit? Does your school support and encourage personal learning plans? What have you learned from this lesson that will help you gain support for you plan? Create a plan you can follow through on and share it with us.
  • Explore the resources and readings. Have conversations with colleagues (in person, online) about the topic. Write a reflection sharing your thoughts and experiences.
  • The “Double Dip” Find a webinar that comes with PD credit (like the EdWeb ones). Watch an archived webinar or participate in one live. Write a post about the experience. Will your school give you credit. do you think this is a good way to learn? What about trust and accountability? How would you assess your learning?

LOG YOUR LESSON: Don’t forget to log your blog post when you’re done!  When you finish this lesson by fill out the log form. You’ll need the URL of your first blog post to complete the form.


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