Who said professional development had to be expensive? Check out these free online resources!

1. Try a MOOC(massive open online course).

These courses are offered for FREE to anyone with internet. They aren’t any old courses taught by Joe Schmo though. These are courses taught by professors from legitimate universities.

Where can I find it
Coursera has hundreds of courses from well known universities across the globe. Music specific course offerings include Jazz Improvisation, Introduction to Music Production, and Teaching the Violin and Viola: Creating a Healthy Foundation. General education course offerings include K-12 Blended & Online Learning, Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century skills, and Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms.

edX is similar to Coursera but does not have as many music and education courses. Though, it is worth checking out! Some music specific courses up on their website now include Vocal Recording Technology, Intro to Music Business, and Jazz Appreciation. General education courses include The Art of Teaching, Critical Issues in Urban Education, and Leaders of Learning.

How it works
You can sign up for courses through the website. Some courses may have already started, some may be starting in the future – this information will be posted in the description. The course is structured like a typical college course. It week has it’s own assignments, videos, forums, and more! You can do as much or as little as you choose. Certifications can be earned, usually for a fee. Even if a course has already finished, you can often still join and review all material that was put up during the semester.

2. #TweetIt

Twitter can connect educators from all over the world. Hundreds of educational twitter chats happen weekly. These 140 character discussions can pack a lot more punch than you might think.

Where can I find it
Twitter hashtags are used to connect those who wish to participate in the chat. #musedchat and #elmused are two music education chats I have participated in.

How it works
Each chat occurs on a specific day and time. #elmused happens each Tuesday at 9PM EST and #musedchat happens each Monday at 8PM EST. If you find a chat and you’re not sure when it occurs, usually a search of the hashtag on Twitter or Google will let you know.

You’ll want to use a program such as TweetDeck or Hoot Suite to keep up with the chat. These programs allow you to track a specific hashtag and will update the tweets in that hashtag automatically. It will appear more like a group chat this way.

Topics are usually chosen in advance. One person acts as the moderator. Sign on at the time the chat is supposed to start and feel free to introduce yourself by stating your name, what you teach, and where you’re from. The chat begins when the moderator tweets the first question, usually indicated by a tweet that begins with Q1, which stands for question one. To respond, start your tweet with A1, which stands for answer one. Follow A1 with your response to the question and be sure to end your tweet with the proper hashtag, or else those participating will not see your tweet. The next question will be indicated by the moderator when he/she tweets Q2 and participants then respond with A2.

Chats can be fast paced so don’t feel pressured. Tweet as much or as little as you’d like!

3. Pinterest

Social media isn’t all pictures of cats and viral videos. There’s a whole other educational side to it! If you didn’t land on this blog post from Pinterest, you need to check it out ASAP!

Where can I find it
Pinterest is probably the most well known social media outlets. I love Pinterest because I can organize all of my boards instead of having a single stream of things I have “liked” or “favorited.”

How it works
Pin blog posts, articles, videos, worksheets, and countless other resources to your own feed. Follow specific boards/topics by searching or a user’s whole profile.

4. Facebook Groups

It’s easy to spend time on Facebook so why not make it productive?

Where to find it
There are tons of music specific groups on Facebook. I belong to several, including Music Teachers and Band Directors. A simple search can help you find others.

How it works
First request to be in the groups. They are closed so an admin or someone already in the group will need to add you. Then post a question, answer one, or do a search! Teachers are talking about everything from lesson ideas and auditions to classroom management and admin/parent questions. Be sure to read the guidelines before posting. There are certain rules that apply to each group, especially regarding ads and products.

To follow a Facebook post without commenting on it, find the thread you want to follow and click on the gray down arrow on the top left of the post. Select Turn on notifications. You can also save a post if you want to revisit it later.

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