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What Is ILA Next? A Virtual Walk-Through of ILA’s New PD Event

By Wes Ford
 | Oct 01, 2020

Man at computerWith the spread of the novel coronavirus rendering in-person professional development all but impossible, PD providers scrambled to move planned face-to-face events onto an online setting. Unfortunately, most organizers failed to leverage the potential of the virtual space or even truly adapt the program to fit the platform.

Instead of trying to shoehorn the traditional ILA 2020 programming into an online format, ILA opted to cancel the conference altogether. The decision paved the way for ILA to rethink what PD could—and should—look like in the age of COVID-19. The result: ILA Next.

From the beginning, ILA Next was designed for a digital environment. Conferences that take place in the physical space often schedule a multitude of sessions into a few short days to minimize the time educators spend away from their jobs and families. Virtual events, on the other hand, eliminate the need for sunup-to-sundown programs and networking opportunities.

To combat online meeting fatigue, ILA put together a program that spans four weeks, with sessions, workshops, and learning labs running 90 minutes or less and spread across the entire week at times meant to minimize disruptions to educators’ day-to-day responsibilities.

To get a sense of what this type of event looks like in practice, we’ve put together a walk-through of the basic program.

Main Stage Sessions—every Saturday (over 18 hours of PD)

The weekly schedule for ILA Next starts on Saturdays with a Main Stage Session. From 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. ET, you can select to participate in one live Main Stage Session. During week 1, there is only a single Main Stage Session; however, in the weeks that follow, you will have four options from which to choose. But don’t worry if you are having a difficult time deciding which to attend: You will have on-demand access to all the Main Stage Sessions within five businesses days of the live broadcast.

Interactive Exhibitor Showcase—every Saturday

If you’ve ever been to an ILA conference, you know the exhibit hall is one of the highlights of the event. It’s a quick and easy way to keep apprised of the latest products, meet book authors, and explore new technology available in the education field.

We are bringing a bit of that exhibit hall experience into ILA Next. Each of our exhibitors has a virtual booth at which they can share product overviews, resources, contact information, and a variety of other info. Participants have 24/7 access to the space, but each Saturday there’s also an hour after the Main Stage Sessions dedicated to interactive experiences with exhibitors. Corwin Press, for example, is offering a live Q&A with best-selling authors Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, coauthors of The Distance Learning Playbook, a #1 bestseller, immediately following their October 10 Main Stage Session.Virtual Exhibitor Showcase

Be sure to check out the ILA Next coupon booklet before making any purchases from the Exhibitor Showcase to make sure you’re maximizing savings.

Learning Labs—every Saturday (eight hours of PD)

Two 40-minute Learning Labs round out the day, offering additional opportunities to learn from speakers such as Ernest Morrell and Cornelius and Kass Minor. Some weeks there will be concurrent Learning Labs, but just like the Main Stage Sessions, all Learning Labs will be available on demand within five businesses days of the live broadcast. That’s another eight hours of on-demand professional development.

Pathway Workshops—every Tuesday (six hours of PD)

ILA Next is anchored by a workshop series organized by age of learners. During registration, participants pick one of four pathways from the following options:

The Pathway Workshops will be streamed live every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, but if you can’t make it to the live session—you guessed it!—you’ll have on-demand access within five business days, but only for the Pathway selected during registration.

Office Hours—every Thursday (six hours of PD)

Office Hours complement each week’s workshop and also run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Come to these informal, small-group sessions to pose questions to speakers, share ideas from your mid-week reflection, or just to meet with other educators in your field. Grow your personal learning network and develop professional contacts. And, yes, these too will be recorded and available on demand within five business days.

Four weeks of professional learning; four months of on-demand access (over 36 hours of PD!)

ILA Next attendees can access nearly six hours of live professional learning each week (factoring in the extra on-demand sessions, that’s more than 36 hours of professional learning in total). Once the event ends, though, the learning doesn’t stop; registrants retain access to all content through January 31, 2021.

ILA members pay just $99 to register. Nonmembers who join before registering to get the lower rate save more than $100 over standard pricing.

Register now for ILA Next—and don’t miss catching the opening Main Stage Session live this Saturday, October 3.

Wes Ford is the social media strategist for ILA.
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