To ensure that teachers are at the forefront of the latest educational developments with respect to methodologies and technologies, continuing education is provided. Continuing education for teachers can be compared to a bridge that connects the best practices of individuals and groups within the field. The purpose of continuing education is to keep teachers up to date and hone their teaching mechanisms in order to derive effective outcomes from students.
In the past, continuing education for teachers was nominal. It usually contained self serving slides or presentations and similar other tools that educators just needed to click and complete. There was no follow-up, collaboration or discussion to test their effectiveness. However, this has changed in recent times with tools for continuing education becoming more robust and effective. Consequently, the tools of today not only provide self learning but also assess and measure effectiveness through several touch points such as additional learning materials, working with peers and experts, completing assignments and participate in discussions on related subjects within specified time frames. Examples of this online technology that is blended with offline learning is Michigan’s LearnPort and PBS Teacher’s Line.
The focus is not just on eLearning in isolation but also through interaction actively with groups both through online and offline forums using the latest internet technologies across the county and world. Web 2.0 tools are also being used more often in current times such as Twitter, Wikis, Podcasts, Skype, Moodle, Ning, Flat Classroom and Google Docs. These social networking tools are quite useful in professional development of teachers and educators. They facilitate removal of barriers such as territorial boundaries and time zones.
Additional forums of continuing education for teachers include seminars, webinars, workshops and conferences along side courses provided in college campuses and school districts in-house. Non-profits and governmental associations also provide continuing teaching programs in relevant areas and subjects for teachers. Examples are courses conducted by Connecticut Education Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and American Association of Physics Teachers. Such organizations deploy continuing education either state-wise or subject-wise as appropriate. Private companies are also known to join the fray offering continuing education courses for teachers.
Continuing teaching courses may be focused on specific teaching subjects such as Mathematics and Physics could be meant for enhancing their educational methodologies. The latter also covers latest technologies that can be brought into the class rooms. Virtual class rooms are an example. Additionally, they could also equip teachers with heightened capabilities in classroom management and related tasks.