I visited three educational professional websites which were the Association for Supervision Curriculum and Development (http://www.ascd.org/), Tapped In (http://tappedin.org/), and the National Staff Development Council (http://www.nsdc.org/). Here are some of my thoughts about what I found out.
ASCD and NSDC focus on providing educators with professional development opportunities through access to up-to-date information on hot topics and trends as a means for enhancing teaching and learning. Similarly, Tapped In centers on promoting and enhancing professional development; however, the delivery of information and structure of the site is much different than the other two in that it enables a subscriber, i.e. an organization, to establish its own learning community and create customized staff development programs specific to its needs. All three of the sites are membership or subscription based, but ASCD and NSDC do provide limited amounts of information (such as links to articles and blogs) to non-members, whereas, Tapped In does not provide this type of information unless you are a subscriber.
Of the three sites I reviewed, it quickly became obvious to me two emerging trends or hot topics are the continuous need for ongoing professional development with regards to technology, and the growing popularity of online learning communities. According to Tapped In’s vision, “Research has shown that student achievement is directly linked to teacher quality” (2007). Although there are a few educators who seem to possess a natural ability for always providing quality learning environments regardless of the scenario, it is still imperative that all educators keep on top of the latest innovations, especially technology. In order to do this, organizations and schools are creating learning communities for educators which are similar to social networks. According to Wikipedia, the definition of a learning community, “…is a group of people who share common values and beliefs [and] are actively engaged in learning together from each other” (2009). By combining learning communities with professional development opportunities, educators now have real-time access to information, whereas, previously, educators may have had to wait for a conference or a meeting to learn about or ask questions about the latest technology or trend. Because the technology world is rapidly changing, learning communities allow educators to review and discuss new ideas and equipment as it emerges rather than waiting for experts in the field to deliver the information at a later date. Through online access, up-to-date information can be delivered instantly, and educators can quickly decide how best to incorporate new trends into everyday learning experiences for students or determine whether more research or evaluation is necessary in order to successfully implement the new technology or idea. As educators become well-versed in the world around them through ongoing professional development via online communities, teacher quality improves and, ultimately, student achievement improves. The information available to us through web sites such as the ones discussed here are springboards for ongoing learning in the field of education which will have lasting effects on us as professionals who strive to successfully educate the children who will be our future leaders.
Association for Supervision Curriculum and Development. (2009) ASCD home. From http://www.ascd.org/
Learning community. (2009, June 21). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Learning_community&oldid=297682401
National Staff Development Council. (2009). National staff development council (NSDC): welcome. From http://www.nsdc.org/
Tapped In. (2007). About tapped in. From http://tappedin.org/tappedin/web/about.jsp