Just as recently as a couple of years ago, Professional Development used to mean going somewhere else to attend a conference. The teacher(s) and/or administrator(s) who attended the conference would then pass on the knowledge and ideas gained to the rest of the staff. Professional Development may now be attained without leaving our building.
Online conferences are available for a variety of educational topics. Several online conferences are a fraction of the price of attending an "away" conference. A multitude of online conferences are available for free and may either be attended live or viewed as a recording afterward. Classroom 2.0 and The Educator's PLN are excellent organizations to join to stay in touch with the freshest ideas in education in the United States and around the world. I am amazed that I am able to sit in on an online session with the greats of education - not as a zombie at a table in a hotel banquet room, but as an active participant.
Professional Development has shifted. It's time that we shift with it. Check for online sessions on 21st Century Skills, Core Standards, RtI, PBIS. Talk to administrators about attending online workshops and conferences. View recordings of workshops at faculty meetings. Get in the habit of sharing your ideas with your colleagues. Give each other choices. There often is no perfect "right way" in education, but choices often give educators bits and pieces of inspiration to formulate plans that work in their individual classroom.
In addition to talking to the teachers you work with (your close Personal Learning Network), join PLN's for educators. The best place to start is by joining Classroom 2.0 and The Educator's PLN. Talk to your colleagues about sitting in on an online session with you or view the archived presentations of past sessions at your leisure.
Thanks to Steve Hargadon, I received the following notice of the 2010 Global Education Conference.
As always, the most important thing we can do as educators is to be the best we can be for our students.