TVOntario has always been good to the field of education. I've used their websites and videos for summer school to help explain math concepts. Their television programming is thought-provoking. The latest venture from TVO has even bigger potential.
Beginning in 2016, the Professional Learning Series will launch. There are a lot of places, virtual and physical, that run webinars and workshops. What's unique about this series is the amazing infrastructure set up to continue the learning conversations before and after the talks. Participants come from all over Ontario, from school boards big and small and everything in between.
Here's a great benefit: with TVO at the helm, board politics can be minimized. My colleagues and I participated in a TLLP with a focus on cross-board collaboration. It was successful in many ways with many different boards, but, in my opinion, the collaboration between the main two boards was not as strong as other partnerships. I suspect that part of the difficulty lay in establishing roles and sorting through bureaucracy with not one but two school boards. TVO involvement means that work is not proprietary to one person or board, and the reach can go even further.
Katina Papulkas is the new Director of Educational Partnerships for K-12 and her enthusiasm for this project is contagious. Signing up to join the community is easy: go to https://www.teachontario.ca/welcome and fill in the short registration form. Members need to use their board email. It's easy and there are so many discussion groups you can join (or create). I myself am still getting used to the interface but it holds a lot of potential.
I may be slightly biased in favour of TeachOntario because a) I've known Katina Papulkas for a long time, ever since she was a fellow teacher-librarian in the TDSB, and b) Denise Colby and I will be presenting a session called "Minecraft in the Classroom: Connecting Creepers to Curriculum" on February 4, 2016. Still ... don't just take my word for it! The Professional Learning Series begins January 14, 2016 with a talk by Stephen Miles on 3D Printing in Elementary Schools. It's followed by Blended Learning on January 21 by Maureen Asselin. There will be sessions on Google Apps for Education, video conferencing, digital citizenship, Twitter, Makerspaces, and mentoring, just to name a few. It's easy to sign up, and you can always access the archived videocasts if you cannot attend on the specific day. Try it out and see what you can get out of TeachOntario.