We’ve all been there…
Those meetings for professional development where no one is being developed in any means, the least of which would have any semblance of “professionalism”. Staff meetings, department meetings, team leader meetings – sometimes they can all be a blur, because the delivery is all the same. Picture this: someone stands up and smiles in front of the group, announces who they are and where they’re from, and then the lights go out, the projector turns on and the powerpoint gets started. 30-45 minutes later the lights are turned back on and everyone in the room is sitting in a blank stupor while the well-intended presenter says, “does anyone have any questions?”.
Professional development does NOT need to be this way! Not ever, but especially not in the 21st century. There are so many ways to engage your audience, interact with each other as professionals and collaborate across platforms. I am on a personal mission to do away with the Powerpoint for good in all of my presentations (and trust me…I present a LOT). Since most of you here are leaders, I’m sure that you have to (or will have to) present in front of teachers, administrators, parents or community members often. And even if that’s not your thing, as a teacher you present in front of students every day. Trust me – they get bored too! So today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite ideas to spice up your PD using 21st century tools to engage, inspire and integrate with your audience.
My #1 tool for presenting at the moment is Prezi.com. I am in love with the way that this tool allows you to zoom in and out for true movement within your topic. Every single time I present and use this tool, I always have people come up to me afterwards and comment about the information. They talk about how much they learned and how meaningful the presentation was because they were able to pay attention and truly take in the information. This is exactly what I’m after in a 45-60 minute presentation. One word of advice though: make sure you don’t move around too much in your Prezi – it can cause a type of “sea sickness” with people if you’re not careful.
Another way I like to present information is with YuDu.com – this has a free platform that anyone can use to take information and present it as a flipbook/magazine. Not only does it have the “cool” factor, it also allows people to download the magazine to their own computers and interact with it like their own personal professional magazine collection. You simply take your powerpoint/word document and save it as a PDF. Upload the PDF to YuDu and they translate it into a magazine that flips pages back and forth. You can zoom in and out and all hyperlinks are live, so people can jump right to supplemental materials. A true way to interact with your participants, even beyond your presentation.
Video conferencing is getting easier every year and these two options – FaceTime through Macs and Skype (a web application) – make it super simple to work with people well beyond your driving radius. Anyone with an internet connection can now present, take questions, and provide valuable “face time” with presenters from around the world. It’s also an incredible way for your students to interact with other teachers and students from around the globe.
If you find yourself reading this, you probably don’t oppose blogging as a whole. Utilizing it as a professional development tool can provide you with a valuable resource that your participants can access, use, and respond to well beyond your 45 minute session. You can also offer podcasts, video, and reference materials by using this tool that support your presentation materials – all in one spot. I have used this very successfully as a way to both present my materials using links and embedded materials and as a way to continue to actively engage with my participants and to build a true professional community as we build and share information together.
If you’ve played with these tools in the past, consider dusting them off and trying them again for your upcoming presentations or lessons. And if you haven’t used one or more of these options in the past, try one today. You’ll feel so energized by practicing 21st century PD that you’ll want to do it again! Have you used any other tools for 21st century PD? If so, please share with us below – we could all use exciting new tools to avoid those dreaded powerpoints!
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.