In the recent years, the term professional development has become a big buzzword in academic circles. As a result, Teaching and Learning Centers have been created in many institutions – to include my own. Yet, as fashionable as this term may be, professional development is nothing new. Indeed, professional development and IALLT have been synonymous for me.
IALLT has had a very important place in my professional life since my first days as Language Learning Center director who was charged with converting an old outdated lab into a new state-of-the art Language Learning Center (LLC). While developing a proposal for the new LLC, I visited the LLCs of several IALLT members who spent entire days with me, showing me their LLCs, discussing my preliminary proposal with me, giving me food for thought – in short: providing individualized professional development sessions. Without these sessions, I could not have completed a successful proposal in such a timely fashion.
As Language Learning Center director, a large amount of my time was devoted to providing a variety of professional development sessions to the language faculty in my department. Like many fellow LLC directors, I developed mini-workshops, half-day, and full-day workshops, and during the summer months I provided week-long workshops that I co-taught with colleagues from other campus entities. The workshop attendees were able to receive stipends for redesigning one of their courses to become web-enhanced. I also invited guest to give special professional development sessions, hosted workshops and regional conferences, and I chaired panels on language learning technology and invited my colleagues to join me. These are all different forms of faculty development.
When it comes to professional development, it is important to offer a wide array of opportunities. This is particularly true for language technology training, as the professional development needs vary greatly among faculty members, technology professionals, and even LLC directors themselves. Professional organizations play a vital role in providing training opportunities. IALLT offers pre-conference workshops during its biennial conference, and many of IALLT’s regional groups even offer workshops during their annual conferences.
As many institutions decided to cut travel funds as a result of the economic crisis, webinars became important alternate sources of professional development, as they eliminate the need for travel costs altogether. In addition, webinars can be archived and viewed long after they have been delivered to a live audience. IALLT’s new Webinar Team will soon start offering webinars, which can be accessed free of charge by any IALLT member. More information will be forthcoming.
Best to all,
Ute S. Lahaie, PhD