Summer Learning: 10 Professional Learning Experiences for Educators

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels Copy

For many educators, summer is a time to not only relax and recharge, but to participate in professional learning and enjoy extra time to plan for the upcoming school year. For the past five years, once my school year ends, I have been taking advantage of the extra time in my schedule to head to summer conferences and engage in other professional development activities. The  largest event each summer has been the ISTE conference held at the end of June each year. The ISTE conference has been an amazing learning opportunity and brings in educators from more than 70 countries around the world and usually more than 16,000 attendees. Originally set for June 26-July 1, the conference has been rescheduled due to the pandemic and will now take place from November 28 through December 1, 2020.

There have been several other in-person events cancelled or rescheduled, leading educators to seek out PD and also to create PD opportunities for others. Although many in-person events are not happening, there are some wonderful virtual learning opportunities lined up over the next two months for educators to explore and make new connections.

Here are ten learning events happening this summer that will enable educators to engage in a variety of options for personal and professional development.

  1. Global Edtech Academy. Through the GETA, educators can participate in free live and recorded sessions, master classes, and virtual office hours available throughout the summer. More than thirty speakers are providing content on many topics including assessment, digital equity, social emotional learning, Google and Microsoft tools, Minecraft, SEL, and STEM/STEAM.
  2. Learning Revolution. A daily online education conference that was started earlier this year and is led by Steve Hargadon. There are sessions held daily and all learning events are free for educators globally. Once you sign up, you receive a daily or weekly listing of events happening and there are also additional opportunities to connect with educators through the Learning Revolution network. There are groups for discussion, a book group “Books Change Lives,” as well as five weekly regular shows from Howard Blumenthal, Angela Maiers, Rusty  May, Rebecca Muller, and Rachelle Dene Poth. For educators looking to share ideas and build presentation  skills, proposals are accepted on an ongoing basis. Recordings are available on the site.
  3. Big Bang Summer Fest. A virtual event provided by Big Picture Learning which is taking place from July 6-23, 2020. There are a variety of learning formats for participants. Such as Advisory and Headliner sessions, Jam sessions for exploring passions, the Friends Tent for connecting with partners and there are even summer after hours events planned.
  4. ISTE Summer Learning Academy. A first for ISTE this year, a summer academy offered for educators from July 13-31, 2020. The cost for the three weeks is $20 and registration also comes with a coupon for a discounted ISTE membership. During the three weeks of the academy, there will be live webinars, micro courses and opportunities to network with other educators. The schedule of sessions is focused on themes including assessment, equity, learning design, SEL, and UDL.  Educators can also apply for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and graduate credit.
  5. NTAC. Created by the New Tech Network, NTAC is a “virtual gathering to “learn, reflect, and renew” taking place July 13-16, 2020.  The event offers keynote speakers, Braindate lounge, learning blocks and many topics to choose from for professional development.
  6. Indiana Connected Educators LIVE conference. Provided by the Indiana affiliate of ISTE, this event is taking place live from July 20-24, 2020. The ICE conference is free to administrators, teachers, instructional coaches, media specialists, counselors, and IT staff from all levels of education. The sessions will be recorded and available for a few months after the event. During the conference event there will be more than ninety presenters and many important topics for professional development, especially as we prepare for what school will look like in the upcoming year.
  7. Rethink Learning Summit. A first time event designed by Knikole Taylor that will take place online July 20-21, 2020. The summit offers “two full days of synchronous and asynchronous learning sessions to pause, breathe, and reflect over what we are experiencing around the world.” The cost is $49 for the event which has more than forty presenters and a variety of sessions focused on “taking what we have learned” and how to “create a new normal in education.” Educators can register on the site and scholarships are also available to cover the registration fee.
  8. United EdTech Conference. A virtual conference that will be held July 17-18, 2020, presented by BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) focused on helping educators to “create meaningful instructional activities for students using technology in a way where pedagogy comes FIRST.” There are sixteen presenters and the conference will provide two types of sessions:  Pedagogy In Practice, a 90 minute session, focused on discussing best pedagogical practices for using edtech and 30 minute lunch & learn sessions, which will be opportunities to network in an informal setting. All proceeds from the conference registration will be donated to The Learning Laboratory New Orleans.
  9. Preparing for Purpose Summer Bash. A one day virtual summit on July 21, 2020 provided by Northeastern University’s NExT and the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) Network. These two networks have collaborated to provide this event for the first time. The focus of the summit is to help educators learn about experiential learning practices and how to provide them for students.
  10. The Hive Summit. A free online PD event “created by educators for educators” that runs from August 1-14, 2020. The Hive Summit was designed by Michael Matera and offers educators the opportunity to engage in professional learning through daily live presentations and activities to help educators become more connected. You must register to be able to view the recordings and access the presentation materials. Educators can also receive a PD certificate after completion.

Beyond the virtual conferences and webinars that are available, we can also engage in professional development by joining in book studies or community discussions on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Meredith Johnson, who started the BookCampPD site and runs a Sunday night chat and offers book studies throughout the year. For educators looking for ideas of books to read, there are recommendations on her site as well as a list of Twitter Chats and other educational resources to explore. This summer, there are four books as part of the summer book study, with each month focused on an educational book and discussion held during the chat on Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm EST. It’s an opportunity to connect and share ideas with educators from around the world.

Taking advantage of these opportunities is important as it pushes us to take some risks, enables us to expand our own learning network, and fosters our personal and professional growth. Whether it’s participating in one of these events or simply reading a blog, listening to a podcast or joining in a Twitter chat, we have many ways to continue to build our skills and our professional learning network.

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Rachelle Dené Poth

Rachelle Dené Poth is a Spanish and STEAM: Emerging Technology teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, and the author of seven books, her most recent Things I Wish [...] Knew includes stories from 50 educators. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator. Follow Rachelle's blog at

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1 Comment

Judith Presley

Thank you for the list!
For me, summer is almost never a vacation, but a time for development and improvement. And the main thing is that I am passionate about the process. Also in summer, there is time to do research and planning, as you correctly noted.
You know, I like the remote version of forums and meetings even more, because you can take part in more events without leaving your home!

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