Summer Brain Gain: 20+ Edtech Learning Opportunities for Educators and...

column | Professional Development

Summer Brain Gain: 20+ Edtech Learning Opportunities for Educators and Students

Preventing the summer slide online and offline

By Mary Jo Madda (Columnist)     May 21, 2014

Summer Brain Gain: 20+ Edtech Learning Opportunities for Educators and Students

The end of the academic year is approaching, as is summer break. But learning doesn’t have to end on the last day of school--neither for the student, nor for the teacher. To that end, we’ve compiled a selection of resources and opportunities for teachers (click here for our educator list) and students (click here for our student summer opportunities list) to prevent that tired ol’ “summer slide” and make this “summer of learning” the best one yet.

Below are some of our recommendations, as well as a Google form invitation to submit summer opportunities missing from these lists.

Summer Opportunities for Teachers

Online courses and professional development

Without the business of restless students and furiously-fast grading, your schedule is suddenly freed up--and that provides the perfect opportunity to meet other educators and develop your professional learning network.

There’s the opportunity, of course, to develop your edtech practices with your bunny slippers on; one of the easiest ways to do this is by joining a Twitter chat. Hourlong Twitter chats offer the opportunity to meet other educators, share stories, and gather edtech tools for future use in the classroom. In fact, educator Jerry Blumengarten provides his Weekly Twitter Chat Times list to help out fellow teachers, Monday through Sunday. Available all summer, free.

If you’re looking for something longer than an hour or a tweet, there are numerous options to take online courses and tutorials. Check out the edtech organizations in our Professional Development Remix guide for personalized PD and more. Both free and paid summer opportunities are also available from the likes of Coursera, local schools/universities, and edtech sites. Here are some examples:

  1. Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders: This webinar will help you learn how to use blogs and social media (Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and more) to enhance communication between school and home. Runs June 16-30, $97/participant.
  2. iPad Tech Training for Teachers: This free iTunes course, developed by Cathedral Catholic High School, contains tutorials for teachers using iPads in a 1:1 environment. Available at any time, free.
  3. Coursera Teacher PD: Courses on instruction, emerging technologies, and more. Courses run all summer, free.

In-person networking and PD

If you’d rather rub real (not just virtual) shoulders with other educators, try one of the following in-person PD events:

First up, the premiere example is EdCamp (full schedule of EdCamps here), a movement that’s gained a massive following over the past several years. These free “unconferences” break the rules of traditional professional development, and bring together educators from varying walks of life to create the rules and discuss, well, exactly whatever they want to discuss. According to the official schedule, there are 52 scheduled EdCamps between May 31st and August 23rd. Reserve your spot today--or throw your own EdCamp! Run all summer, free.

EdCamps aren’t the only live networking opportunities for edtech. Universities, tech-savvy schools, and local nonprofit or blogging organizations are holding a slew of in-person edtech events this summer. Here are a couple of our favorites:

  1. ISTE Unplugged: Join hundreds of educators interested in social media, technology, teaching, and learning to build and participate in "unplugged"-style activities sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education conference. Atlanta, June 27-June 29, free.
  2. High Tech High Summer Institute: Educators from across the country come to High Tech High to learn about the school’s edtech principles and practices, and to network with colleagues engaged in new school development and reform efforts. San Diego, June 23-June 25, $750/participant.
  3. EdTech Teacher Summer Workshops: EdTechTeacher hosts edtech 1-2 week how-to sessions with topics like iPad use, becoming a Google expert, and more. Various cities (Atlanta, Austin, Berkeley, Cambridge, Chicago, Los Angeles), Run all summer, $595-745/workshop.

Summer grants and contract work

Grants and fellowships for travel and more may have grown scarce by this time of year. But check out sites like TeachersCount for ideas. And to acquire some extra cash, you never know which companies will be searching for K-12 contractors over the summer to help test new products or pilot edtech.

Summer Opportunities for Students


The proverbial summer activity: camp. But not just any types of camp--we’re talking cool, tech-heavy camps, with names like Digital Media Academy Summer Camps and Camp EdTech (yes, that’s the real name). Take I2 Camps, hosted in locations from Illinois to Kenya. These camps are one-week hands-on STEM summer camps that let kids get their hands on the same stuff that scientists, astronauts, bioethicists, and entrepreneurs deal with, day in and day out. Run all summer, $750/participant/week.

Online Learning

You can also bring some fun instructional exercises directly to kids. For instance: TenMarks is hosting a free online summer programs to prevent loss of math skills. The TenMarks program, available to families, offers adaptive math exercises for students in grades 1 through high school. One possibility? Work a system out with the teacher in the grade level above yours to offer extra credit to students upon completion of the program. Available all summer, free.


Sometimes the best tools in a summer activity kit are a little gamified, a little incentivized… or merely glammed up with the moniker of a “challenge.” A few of our favorites include:

  1. Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge: A 6-week summer learning challenge disguised as a massive global treasure hunt for 2nd−8th graders. Students find the key to a safe deposit box holding a $10,000 college scholarship fund! Runs all summer, $199 first student / $100 per student thereafter.
  2. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: Challenge your students to read as much as possible--and defeat last year’s record of 176,438,473 minutes read! Runs all summer, free.

For More Opportunities

Check out Edutopia’s Summer Rejuvenation Guide for resources beyond the computer. And as we mentioned above, submit opportunities to our summer list, or check out our Opportunities Page for other postings.

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