One of my favorite professional development (PD) opportunities of the year is coming up, appropriately, during Connected Educator Month. The K12 Online Conference is an annual, virtual event organized by and for teachers. It’s a free and convenient way to get relevant, innovative, classroom-proven ideas from teachers around the U.S. and the world on how to use Web-based tools and other technologies to advance learning and enhance teaching.

Some important features of K12 Online make it a unique and valuable experience. For one, it restricts participation by folks trying to sell us a program or organizations trying to push their agendas. On the other hand, it welcomes individual teachers and groups of teachers to share from their own classroom work and promotes conversations around the practice of teaching and learning. Highly interactive discussions occur before, during, and long after the Conference. The organizers strive for maximum access by making K12 Online and its resources available through a number of platforms and formats, including: the conference blog, YouTube, and iTunes. Of course, there are links and resources through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.

More amazing, the Conference is a completely volunteer-run project. These are all teachers putting in time to help each other learn. The conference runs for two weeks (this year Oct. 21 – Nov. 1).  Some sessions are live webinars, most are pre-recorded; once published, all sessions and keynotes are archived. Many of these sessions include student voices and work.

Here’s this year’s schedule.

Some teachers organize watching parties with a few colleagues. In some places, departments or whole-schools organize professional development around K12 Online sessions of interest to them.

This year’s theme is Transforming Learning, presented through four major strands. Each strand opens with a live keynote address, starting with a preconference keynote on Oct. 14th by teacher-librarian extraordinaire Shannon Miller.

·        Open Learning   Keynote: Oct. 21st   Steve Hargadon and Audrey Watters

·        Outside [school] Learning:  Oct. 21st   Kathy Cassidy

·        Leading Learning:  Oct. 28th  Larry Ferlazzo

·        Building Learning:  Oct. 28th  Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager

No registration is required.

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