Getting your annual continuing education hours can be hard when you are a teacher. With all the things you have to juggle, it is just one more thing to add to the list. If your district doesn't provide it, the cost can add up. That's why I decided to compile this list of free online professional development for teachers…because who doesn't like PD in your PJs?
Of course, if you're looking for something more substantial or a degree program, you can also check out online graduate programs for teachers.
Unlike public perception, teachers do not have three months off every year to spend by the pool. We spend our summers preparing our classrooms, organizing and setting up lesson plans, collecting ideas, and completing professional development.
While you will hopefully have SOME time to relax by the pool, how nice would it be to grab those required professional development hours while you are there?
The benefits of online professional development
While it can be more challenging to find high-quality, online PD options, there are so many benefits to doing so.
First, it allows you to complete your hours on YOUR schedule. Whether that is 2 AM or at a more reasonable hour, you get to decide when you're ready to learn.
This is a huge advantage when you are still full-time teaching (Hello, summer school!) or trying to juggle your work and family.
Another benefit of online learning is that it is often less expensive than attending a conference or in-person training. The overhead for online training is much lower because there isn't the cost of renting a space and materials, so you can usually find online professional development options for reasonable prices.
Typically, those professional development opportunities that provide certificates cost a little more than those that don't, but the costs can be reasonable.
A third great benefit of online professional development courses is you can go back and revisit it as you start implementing the ideas. Often times ideas seem great or you think you have a good understanding, but questions arise once you start to use your learning in the classroom.
With online PD, you can go back and revisit parts that you might need to refresh once you start implementation.
Where to Find Free Online Professional Development for Teachers
There are a number of places you can go to continue your professional growth. The depth and quality can really vary based on who is providing the training and whether you'll be receiving CEUs for it.
Since busy schedules and personal learning preferences also come into play, you'll want to consider which of the options below best fits your needs.
1. Education Podcasts
Whether you're looking to keep up on the latest trends in education or you need a little inspiration to make it through another testing season, there's a podcast perfect for you.
The benefits of PD through podcasts
The benefits of podcasts is that they are typically short and the audio format means you can be learning on your commute to work or during a jog on the treadmill.
The downside of podcast PD for teachers
The negative side is that these aren't commonly considered formal professional development, meaning you won't likely get CEUs.
Some campuses have, however, decided that a written reflection and implementation plan can qualify as professional development so it might be worth looking into whether your district or campus offers this option.
Teacher Podcasts to check out
When it comes to podcasts, it can feel a little like dating. Most of us have to try out at least a few options before we find our perfect match.
If podcast learning is for you, here's a great list of podcasts that you might want to check out.
Know of other great teacher-focused podcasts? Let me know in the comments!
2. Online Continuing Education Courses
If you're looking for a professional development option that's a bit more versatile, you may want to consider online courses. While some online courses cost money, they also offer the most bang for your buck because many are provided by accredited colleges and universities and credits earned can be transferred toward a future degree.
Be sure to look closely before enrolling in online courses or counting on them for credits. Many websites claim to have free online professional development, but when you look a little closer, they do not offer certificates of completion, and/or require you to pay a fee for continuing education credits.
However, you'd be surprised how much free online PD is really available for educators. This collection is a set of genuinely free online classes that offer PD certificates so you can get credit for all that learning.
ALISON: A New World of Free Certified Learning Website
- Certificates and diplomas available (Yep, you can even get a degree!)
- Free (with ads), can pay to avoid ads
- Courses are self-paced
What you'll find:
- Diploma in Educational Psychology
- Diploma in Teaching Skills for Educators
- Effective Communication Techniques for Teachers
- Instructional Planning for Successful Teaching
- Introduction to the Learning Process for Teachers and Trainers
- Motivating Students to Learn
- Understanding Student Development and Diversity
- Working with Students with Special Educational Needs
OK2Ask: Free, live online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development and exploration
- Live sessions and archived sessions available
- Professional development certificates available
What you'll find:
- Integrating Technology into Lessons
- Teacher Timesavers
- Google 101
- Book Club Opportunities
- Common Core Ideas for Literacy, Writing, and Math
- Special Ed & Gifted Learner Training
Intel Teach Elements
- Courses offered are online, face-to-face, or a hybrid
- Self-paced and facilitated courses available
- Includes projects
- Credit hours available depending on how the course is taken
- 21st Century Learner Focused
What you'll find:
- Blended Learning courses
- Assessment in 21st Century Classroom
- Introduction to Inquiry-Based Learning
- Understanding and Implementing Project Based Learning
- Provided by Universities including Ivy League
- Varied Options
- High-interest topics
What you'll find:
- Engaging Students with Art
- Inspiring Leadership with Emotional Intelligence
- Blended Learning
- Get Organized: How to be a Together Teacher
- Teaching Character
- Classroom Culture
- Courses by MIT professors
- High-interest topics & foundational courses
- Geared toward upper level teachers
What you'll find:
- Becoming the next Bill Nye – creating an educational show
- Courses on Educational Theory & Practice
- Computer games and simulations for learning
- Cross-cultural teaching and learning
KET Education Store
- Courses include options for all ages and stages – early learning, K-12, and adult
- Many free high-interest topics
- Additional paid options depending on needs
What you'll find:
- Positive Behavior in Schools
- Formative Assessment in the Secondary Classroom
- Mental Health & Covid 19
3. Webinars for Teacher PD
Webinars are another great way to access PD outside of what is provided by your district. There are tons of options available these days, and if you prefer video to reading or listening, a webinar can be a perfect solution.
Advantages to webinars for digital PD
Webinars are excellent for learning the basics about a topic or gaining new information about something you're already familiar with. They usually last about an hour, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule.
Webinars are also commonly provided for free or very reasonably priced due to the low overhead costs of filming them. Live webinars also offer the ability for student-teacher interaction and discussion to help problem solve how to use the information in the classroom.
Disadvantages of Webinars for Teacher PD
There are also several disadvantages to this format. First off, it requires total attention. Since it is a video format, you can't participate effectively while doing something else.
Live webinars can also be challenging due to issues caused by teachers in different time zones and when the webinar is held.
Unlike online courses, the majority of free webinars do not offer professional development credit. Although, your district may offer options similar to those provided for podcasts.
Free Professional Development Webinars for Teachers
Here are a few free PD webinars that might be of interest as you look toward your continuing education plan.
- EDWeek – Current Topics in Education Webinars
- ASCD Webinar Archives
- SimpleK12 Webinars
- Laura Candler's Free Webinars for Teachers
- Teacher Closet Monthly Webinars
- Emergent Tree Education Classroom Management & Behavior Webinars
With all these great choices, grab your tablet and a pair of headphones and get learning on your time!
If you're looking for more great options for professional learning that won't cost you a penny, check out my follow-up post:
Know of other sites that offer free online professional development for teachers? Let me know in the comments below!