By Teachers, For Teachers
Professional development has been directly linked to both school success and teacher satisfaction – especially in this day and age where teachers are faced with overcrowded classrooms and pressure to integrate new technologies all while meeting or exceeding relentless academic standards.
Despite this, many schools simply do not have the budget for top-tier professional development programs; if they do, these one-time, on-site instruction courses pack quite a rigorous syllabus.
Happily, we compiled a collection of tools that will help facilitate your learning (in either instance) as well as make professional development a much more sustained experience.
Although Apple devices do come standard with a voice recorder, we can assure you that the variant offered by HT Professional will prove to be a much more robust tool. For those educators who are fortunate enough to attend on-site professional development programs, you will find the slew of recording modes extremely useful:
But more than these modes, this app is a fantastic tool for playback and learning – you may share recordings via e-mail (or Dropbox), annotate with notes and bookmarks, speed up or slow down playback for note taking and also roughly edit the audio if space is limited.
In addition to being a great tool for teachers to use in classrooms for grading their students’ work, you’ll find that this app proves useful in jotting down annotations in a professional development session as well – assuming that your presenter is kind enough to give you a set of electronic notes ahead of time.
If that’s the case, everything from there on out will be a breeze – the app accepts a plethora of file types including your favorites from Microsoft Office, browsers like Safari or commonplace image editors and, unless you tap the screen deliberately, there are no menus or navigation to interfere with you simply reading and annotating your notes. Given this, it’s easy to look back to reference the material (and any questions you may have) when it comes time for the Q&A portion of your PD session.
After your professional development is over, simply save your files and upload them to your favorite cloud-based service (e.g. Google Docs, Dropbox or an FTP server) and you are able to reference them from any device. Thankfully, there is also an autosync function that allows you to standardize your files across platforms so you’re always using the latest version. Definitely a must-have app that will make your professional development experiences (and every moment after) much more fulfilling and organized.
If there were an area of professional development we could all consistently stand to learn and understand on a deeper level, it would be within the Common Core. Luckily, there’s an app for that, and its to-the-point nomenclature certainly gives you a giant hint as to what it’s all about.
Yes, you guessed right – it is a very helpful resource to find out about the Common Core State Standards for broad and specific disciplines via a helpful search function. Updates for these subjects are also posted so the app does a good job of keeping you at equal step with the changes.
The app won’t necessarily replace a good old-fashioned professional development session outright, but it certainly acts as a great supplemental resource to encourage continued learning as well as a fantastic “double-check” guide to ensure your current lesson plans are aligned properly.
We’ve made mention of Dropbox a couple of times in this eLearner edition already, but don’t let that deter you from taking a look at this offering from Barracuda Networks – especially if your latest professional development course has left you packing a ton of everyone’s new favorite media go-to: Video.
Arguably, nothing conveys an experience (especially a learning one) like video, but a full-bodied platform like this does come with an unfortunate consequence – large file sizes. But whereas Dropbox starts you off at 2GB, Copy boasts an impressive 15GB without spending a dime. Refer a new friend sitting next to you in class and you immediately tack on an additional 5GB. Needless to say, with that much storage space at your disposal, you’ll have more than enough to upload and share rich media from not only your professional development class, but also any activities that require video from your day-to-day classroom activities.
In addition to acting as a cloud portal for video, Copy also has a view-only option for student assignments as well as a sync-and-edit selection for files that work best for collaborative projects. Not bad at all.
We’re huge fans of a little app called Flipboard (which you may use already), but before you dismiss Zite as just a clone of a popular platform, download it and give it a quick trial run.
While Flipboard’s interface is certainly more handsome and intuitive, Zite packs a couple features that make it a worthy adversary – especially when it comes to populating relevant learning topics into your personal database. Instead of relying solely on your social network activity, Zite also takes data from the material you read outside of it as well, making it ideal if your tablet undertakings differ a great deal from your desktop life. Admittedly, it’s come a long way since its launch two years ago and we are eternally grateful for its improvements.
Sure, this app is the most-loosely related to conventional professional development, but at the core, PD’s mantra is literally based on all types of ongoing learning opportunities that Zite certainly allows and continually provides based on the topics that interest you naturally.