Professional development: Simple, small-scale, and cost-effective

This entry is part 25 of 48 in the series Teaching Transparently

As I mentioned here, I am a center director first and a teacher second. As a center director I teach faculty and students how to use technology for teaching/learning. (Well that and when they need to stay farrrr away from it.)

Like many of our peer institutions, travel funds have been cut. Funds for bringing in outside speakers have been cut. But the teaching and the learning has to go on. And we need to keep on top of what is happening around us. We need to think creatively about ways to keep moving forward and be frugal at the same time. Enter technology. FTW.

Every Tuesday I do something for the faculty and staff called TechnoTuesdays. Actually, I do them twice in one day: once from 12:15-1:00 and then again from 3:30-4:15. I highlight one tool per session, and answer the following questions:

What is it?

How does it work?

Who is using it?

How can it be used for teaching and learning?

What do I do if I want to learn more?

The general tendency when running one of these tech sessions has always been to whip yerself into a wild frenzy and believe that you have to know it all and know it cold or else…in other words to be the sole embodiment of knowledge about the tool being taught. Either that or cram ASMUCHASYOUCANINTOONE SESSION. Uh no.

But just as the teacher centric classroom doesn’t work that well for promoting student learning, neither does the technologist-centric too-much-tech session actually promote teacher tech skills.

The tools we use for teaching and learning are about collaboration, and about the possibility and the power of listening to and learning from others. Thinking about that, it dawned on me that maybe we could explain the technology by using it to teach the teachers. And even better, maybe I could use the tools to bring in the people whom -I- go to for help and support when I need to know more.


The Right Rev Jim Groom, via video Skype, going all edupunky when talking about UMWblogs to my faculty
I am lucky to have a group of virtual colleagues around the world who are passionate about what they do. They also are generous people who understand that knowledge and information needs to be shared widely …it shouldn’t be locked down behind a CMS or available only after paying a very expensive registration fee at an Edtech conference. These colleagues are very good at what they do but also believe in supporting and collaborating with others…and in the future if I have something I can share with them, there is an unspoken promise that I will do so just as willingly as they have helped me.

Many schools have spent gazillions on video conferencing and such. We do ours via Skype: It’s free. It works. It’s portable.

The moral to this story? Professional development can and should go on, even in tough economic times. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. As a technologist, you do not have to know it all nor do you do not have to do it alone. If you want/need help just ask. Keep it simple. keep it directed. We are all in this together, and we are all here to help each other stay informed.

And in that spirit of sharing, here is a link to our delicious site for TechnoTuesdays and links to all the things we have discussed both this semester and last. Enjoy!

Series Navigation<< Why I teach.Teaching Transparently: Scuba diving in 2nd year college Spanish >>

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for 18 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and watch the Red Sox. Preferably not all at once, although that could be interesting. To see her online portfolio please click here!


  1. Beware of the Eduzombies | Language Lab Unleashed! · March 15, 2010 Reply

    […] semester some colleagues and I are putting together a series of presentations called TechnoTuesdays. I blogged about this previously and I am pleased to say that project has grown to include others on this campus who work in Ed […]

  2. Beware of the Eduzombies · January 10, 2012 Reply

    […] semester some colleagues and I are putting together a series of presentations called TechnoTuesdays. I blogged about this previously and I am pleased to say that project has grown to include others on this campus who work in Ed […]

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