As trainers, we all know how we prefer to teach. But what we would like to know is how do you prefer to learn? While Thinkfinity is in the planning phase of creating new courses, we would love to get your feedback on what type of professional development you prefer to attend. Do you like webinars (live or recorded), online courses (self-paced or facilitator-led), short or long courses of study, courses that offer graduate credit, etc.? Please share your thoughts as we are eagerly waiting to hear from everyone!!!
I enjoy a variety of methods for learning new information as a Professional. I love webinars especially ones which provide a certificate of completion. On-line courses give the flexibility I often need with my busy schedule. When time and opportunity permits attending a traditional course on a campus provides the added one-on-one and hands-on experience not available with on-line courses or webinars. Variety provides a plethora of experience.
Like Librarian Liz, I like to attend trainings online. I have a busy schedule and I feel very comfortable taking courses online so a webinar or a self-paced blended course offers me the ability to receive training that I may not have had a chance to explore if I had to commute to a land-based university. I can do my readings and complete my projects late at night when I have some time to myself.
The format of a training tends to be more of a concern than the length of the training. I do like a blended course that offers a variety of learning formats and projects that are directly relevant to how I need to incorporate the course information into my work projects. Webinars and self checks are fine as long as I can access them at a later time to refresh my memory. I would like to be able to read and print out a transcript to a webinar for notetaking purposes. I prefer activities that take me through the steps of a new process because I need to learn technology by using it the way I would on a day to day basis.
Courses that offer a certificate of completion or the opportunity to earn graduate credit appeal to me. One of the reasons why I participate in trainings is that my professional license requires that I offer proof of my continuing education hours.
Thank you for your responses. At ISTE, I heard a lot of people echoing your comments. We will continue to look towards developing new webinars and online courses for graduate credit this upcoming year (everyone at ISTE was especially excited to hear the graduate credit would only cost $50 per credit hour).
If anyone has specific topics you’d like to see addressed this year please feel free to post those here as well!
Distance Learning Coordinator
I love to learn online. I also need the support of recordings, or saved documents to which I can refer at a later date, via the bookmarked resources tab. I like the interactive discussions. I love to read articles about recent research, and compare to other articles, then share the synthesis with other educators. Networking about what works in the 21st century classroom, with the 21st century learner, and with web2.0 tools is a way for educators to grow. I learn from short videos as well.
Thinkfinity has so many possibilities for educators, and the resources are so accessible. With the time-factor as our biggest concern during the school year, it is important for teachers to be able to bookmark resources in their preferred tool as well. Teachers in the 21st century now blog, use social bookmarking, wikis, etc. Thinkfinity Community has most of these tools within one site, especially for those teachers who want to get their feet wet in a safe environment.
I prefer to learn online because it can give me the flexibility to learnon my schedule. Learning online opens up a lot of learning opportunities that I would otherwise not have. I live in a rural area so learning opportunities that are provided locally are few and far between. To have the opportunity to take many classes I would have to travel 5 hours one way to take a class.I have had experience with webinars both live and recorded and I like them both.I like recorded webinars because I can review them anytime that I want but I also like live webinars because I can have the opportunity to ask questions.
I actually completed 18 credits to finish a Master of Library Science entirely online, that was a very good experience for using a variety of presentation tools and formats. However, it was very demanding and more work, I think than many face-to-face grad classes. I think the ongoing 24-7 nature of distance learning is interesting and somewhat imposing. People are posting all the time and you feel compelled to read, analyze and respond to remain timely. I'm not sure I learned as much by churning out information on such an ongoing basis. However, the articles that were posted and many of the interactive assignments I still remember and use in practice today.
I also learn a lot by going to individual web tools sites (which I find by recommendation from blogs or other tech educators, Marilyn Western or Kathy Schrock, for example) and just following the processes given within the site. I create a product that I can use for a future demo with teacher or students.
For my current day-to-day practice, I find that webinars have been very helpful. I took a Thinkfinity webinar last summer and that got me into looking at the content and some communities. I like webinars because they are quick and focused on a few main points and offer practical information ready to use. I also search and use many videos already posted to pass on to staff that give quick and easy to follow skills how tos. Having so many software updates in our district is hard to keep up with through exploration or indepth tutorials. I just need to discover what are the main features are and how best to use them. Finding a concise video is a good way to pass information on to the whole district, since our PD time for technology upgrading has been really cut back.
I do like the format of this Thinkfinity course. The lessons have been set up to give a good overview of the features with emphasis on personal incorporation. I love the flexibility of the assignments while remaining within a good learning structure. It has certainly tied many of these features together for me... and provided a way to make my own framework that best suits my learning needs and beyond that can be easily shared.
I am a very social person and learn best when interacting with others. I have traditionally taken courses at the local college for my continuing education. I am new to online classes and still finding my way around. I do like the connection that Thinkfinity promotes through it's online community.
If I'm revisiting something I've learned before or am somewhat familiar with, like a language or literary course, I like online courses with credit--this gives me a self-motivation to not only relearn previous knowledge, but to go beyond my former level of expertise and do better (which is where I personally need forms of evaluation/assessment, like critical feedback via homework, to help me consider ways of improvement that I wouldn't receive via a webinar). As others have said, it's great to have the flexibility to review online content as one's schedule allows. And with technology as it is today, it's great that as long as I have my laptop or phone on me, I can swing by a place with wifi and review a class.
But I've noticed that I still really enjoy learning with people face-to-face in a group. The social nature of being able to communicate immediately with others in the same occupied space builds on my ability to make connections--especially since the atmosphere is more organic in allowing for all types of conversation to emerge in a way that may not happen online.
My biggest complaint about most of the in person PDs I have been to is after we learn strategies, technolgy, etc, we are rarely given much freetime to incorporate what we learned. There are so many things on an educators plate these days, it's hard to add everything you learn plus keep up with the day-to-day. That's why I like the webinars. It's not taking away from classroom time, and this way I can complete it as "free" time becomes available. Plus with a webinar, I can pause, explore what there is to offer and come back. I have already added content, changed my web page, posted comments, tagged websites etc. thanks to the webinars I have already viewed.
I don't think that I have a preferred way to learn. The preference varies with the material. When I take music lessons, I like the interaction with a teacher and also the immediate feedback, so that when I practice it is done correctly. Some things I have learned sitting in a lecture hall, but having the opportunity to discuss the subject matter with other students halped to clarify ideas. Some things I've learn in webinars and that too has its own positives.
Like Carolyn, I too, prefer to learn different ways for different content and different situations. I am just now finishing my master’ degree and I chose to enroll in a program at a university where I attended classes in person. I enjoyed learning in this type of setting because I found I learned as much by the interaction with the other students as I did from the instructors. I also found it valuable to experience specific content-related teaching techniques and methods in the role of a student. However, the only way I was able to attend classes at the university was because the campus is very close to my work site so I was able to make it to campus twice a week for evening classes. For the past couple of years I have had to spend my weekends completing assignments for these classes. Since I really only have weekends to work on my education, I see the advantage of online learning and webinairs. I like the convenience, but I miss the direct interaction with my instructors and fellow students.
Like many who have responded, I too prefer learning in a variety of ways. As a US history teacher, I enjoy going to historic sites to learn directly. I've been to DC, and Philadelphia and many historic sites in between. This summer I am going to Virginia with a group of teachers on a Teaching American History Grant. I just finished an online course last summer, and found it to be a little difficult to keep up because of the amount of work that was required in a very short time. I love webinairs however, and have found them extremely convenient. In addition, I earned my masters degree at a university that had a satellite cohort class right down the street from where I live. It was great working and learning with the same group of people for 18 months straight. The reality is I just love learning, so I am excited to know that Thinkfinity is planning online opportunities for continued learning.
I feel like I am the minority. I like traditional instructor led courses with classmates sitting right next to me. Our facilitator Tim led us through a fantastic intro to Thinkfinity course where we used the computers and sat with other staff members as we went along. That is what I would prefer.
I enjoy doing online courses. I get a chance to fit them in my schedule when I can and really take the time to focus on what is going on. I like instructor led courses or webinars with followup discussion boards where you can interact at any time. I also enjoy doing a lot of my own research and discovery.
I truly believe that if an individual likes to do independent research, then online learning is one of the best methods of learning. I have had online classes which eliminated travel time and allowed me to set my own schedule. I personally enjoy researching, exploring, and making discoveries about given topics. Webinars work for me because I feel I receive the benefits of a "seminar" or "conference" without the expense of travel and out of town lodgings.
I find that live webinars are helpful, as they can be done from anywhere with a computer and internet access. When the webinars are live, one can ask questions of the presenter. Self-paced online courses have been very beneficial to me as I live a distance from any colleges or universities. I am able to work at my own pace, completing homework tasks as I find time between caring for my kids and keeping up with my job. Shorter courses that offer graduate credit are ideal, as they allow for great learning opportunities as well as credits earned for licensure renewal.