I am a huge fan of online learning and DIY PD! I absolutely love everything about it - that you can customize your learning topics and goals, that it is can be so flexible, that there is an endless variety of resources and formats. This is really the ideal form that the internet can take; connecting a world of avid learners who can share and grow together in ways that were not possible even 25 years ago.
I already do a ton of online learning and PD, but really enjoyed exploring some of the articles and resources in this assignment. From Building a Personal Learning Network – 10 resources to add to your professional development toolbox, I was intrigued by "Unconferences and Camps", which is one of the few resources I have not yet explored. I investigated this topic even further in Edcamps: Remixing Professional Development. In this article, the author, Andrew Marcinek, hosted edcamps for colleagues, and they sound amazing! This is something I will definitely keep my eye out for in the future. I love the concept of turning "meetings into conversation" and leaving the agenda open for organic learning opportunities. Some of the best PD I have ever participated in has been more of a conversation; although it must be said, some of the worse PD I have participated in lacked any kind of prescriptive teaching and lead to confusion and frustration during the break-out work sessions. So it's a fine line between guided exploration and all-out free range learning!
This year I have enjoyed participating in a new online learning venue: "Tell It On Tuesdays", organized by my area BOCES SLS. So far I have attended two of these online webinars and am scheduled for a third on February 14th (I just wish it weren't on Valentine's Day!). These were supposed to be opportunities for member librarians to share areas of their own expertise with each other, but so far the first two I participated in were facilitated by professional organizations - TeachingBooks.net and CDLC. The next one will be the first facilitated by a colleague, so I'm excited to see how that goes. The first two had only myself and 1 or 2 other participants, which I think is really sad. I wish more people would make time to support this great opportunity, because otherwise, I fear it will not be continued next year. I do earn PD credit for participating, and I really enjoy the informal feel of these local events.
I have also taken two online post-grad classes through SUNY Buffalo. They were both a lot of work and required significant time and participation. One actually assigned hundreds of pages of professional reading each week! Both required daily participation in discussion boards, and both had written assignments, too. I would say these courses required MORE effort than a traditional grad class, but the trade-off was being able to log in from home when time allowed as opposed to having a designated meeting time and place. I will endure a lot of extra work for that flexibility!
I'm also a big fan of YouTube learning and just general online searching for professional information. Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier to chart your own course and to become the professional you aspire to be!
And the biggest thank you of all goes to you, Polly, for putting together these Cool Tools workshops! I do some of my best learning in this forum, and there is always something new to explore. Here's to many, many more tracks of Cool Tools!!