Web Review: Professional Development Resources

Web Review: Professional Development Resources

By Alexandra Janvey and Jamie McCurry

For those interested in pursuing professional development, there are many resources available online. This web review focuses on a few options that are currently available.

 Infopeople Infopeople is an extensive educational resource for online webinar and training opportunities. The site offers a number of flexible opportunities for continuing education, including instructor-led courses, self-paced online courses, webinars, and podcasts, which cover a wide variety of topics. Topics include (but are not limited to) programming, patron and user needs, readers' advisory practices, and customer service. During the year, two online courses are offered a month, using the Moodle learning management system. Instructor-led online courses cost $75 for California State residents and $150 for others. The self-paced courses are $25, while the webinars are usually free. To help keep track of upcoming learning prospects, Infopeople has a training announcement listserv and calendar. Webinars are archived for future reference in case you want to explore past sessions. This site also contains recommendations for various web services (e-mail, online storage, etc.), computer and catalog tutorials, and other services.

WebJunction OCLC's WebJunction is a top choice for professional development because it's not only a great learning resource, but flexible and affordable. Providing learning for all library staff has been their mission since the website first launched in 2003. All the training resources are available at no cost and accessible through the website at any time. WebJunction's conferences and webinars are conducted using WebEx web conferencing software. You can participate in these webinars through an Internet connection or by dialing in through a phone. Upcoming events are searchable on the website calendar and recordings of past webinars can be accessed in the archive. Another useful resource on the WebJunction website is the index of competencies for library practice. They also have self-paced courses available for members who get sponsored by their state library. There are over 350 of these online courses to choose from that cover technology and library skills.

Codecademy  Codecademy is a terrific resource for learning how to code, which often comes in handy for librarians and information professionals. The website is an online portal for free and interactive tutorials on web coding. The different lessons range from coding fundamentals (HTML, CSS), to JavaScript, Ruby, APIs, Python, PHP, and more. The site is filled with various courses and exercises that are designed in a game-like manner. Users are motivated by virtual rewards such as points that are added into a score and badges that can be displayed on social media profiles. Codecademy is a fun way to teach yourself how to code and learn to design websites, games, or even apps. These coding skills can also help to round out and strengthen a resume. This website is a unique learning resource for coding, and it is educational and engaging at the same time.

MOOCs MOOCs, which stands for massive open online courses, are another exceptional learning opportunity. They are the latest trend in education: free online courses aimed at large scale participation. These courses cover a wide range of topics ranging from art to gamification. It all depends on the schools that make these online courses available. While actual academic credit is not given for taking a MOOC, a certificate of completion is sometimes given if you do all the work required of you. The important thing is what you are able to learn and take away from the experience. MOOCs provide the opportunity to receive a more well-rounded education that otherwise might not be possible. All you need to enroll is a willingness to learn and the motivation to complete the course.

You can use the free MOOC aggregator, Class Central, to discover and browse the various classes that are being offered. Another way to locate MOOCs is to browse directly through the platforms that offer them. These platforms include Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Canvas Network.

ALA Online Learning Several divisions of the American Library Association, including ACRL, PLA, RUSA, YALSA, and LITA, offer multiple continuing education opportunities through ALA's online learning. Online courses, workshops, webinars, and webcasts are offered on various topics throughout the year. There is bound to be something of interest for anyone given the wide range of areas that are covered. This is another possible choice for professional development, if you have some money to spend. The price varies depending on the type of event, but members of the organizing unit receive a discount, and group discounts are also offered.

ALA online learning is done completely from the convenience of your own location and when you have the time, so scheduling onflicts won't occur. Some of the offerings focus on business reference, genealogy, creating video tutorials, graphic novels, information literacy, readers' advisory, reference interview, interlibrary loan, collection development, technology, management, and health information. This can be a good option if you need to brush up on a skill, learn something completely new, or are taking on new responsibilities at work.

Simmons College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science Simmons College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science has a continuing education program full of online workshops. Each workshop costs $200 for alumni and $250 for everyone else. They usually take place over four or five weeks. The workshops cover such topics as library instruction, building relationships on social media, programs for youth, job hunting, survey design, writing for publication, and web design fundamentals. All the online workshops can be done at your own convenience, but require regular participation. At the end of the workshop, all attendees will receive a certificate of completion.

Mediabistro It is useful to keep in mind those resources that, while not specifically aimed towards library professionals, offer resources on subjects that can be easily translated to the information science profession. Mediabistro is a website that focuses on the media industry, but also offers online courses (at varying prices) on topics such as event planning and coordination, HTML and CSS web coding, user experience design, writing, proofreading, and editing. These are essential skills needed for any position. The organization also hosts a number of networking events and meet-ups for an array of career areas that are worth looking into. The website is a substantial source of job listings for those seeking alternative information professional employment opportunities. Mediabistro also provides certificate programs on topics such as social media use, digital marketing, and copyediting. Many of the skills you are able to learn through this website are easily applicable in the library setting.

Alexandra Janvey is a librarian and archivist at Long Island University. Learn more by visiting her online portfolio.

Jaime McCurry is a recent graduate of the Palmer School at Long Island University. Learn more by visiting her LinkedIn profile.