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5 Ways to Continue Professional Development Online while Working AbroadPosted on November 1st, 2012 No commentsJust because you are working outside of your home country, it does not mean that your education and professional development needs to be on hold. It may seem difficult to pursue any sort of additional education in a foreign country. The idea of taking courses in a new language and navigating the education systems of a totally different culture are definitely daunting. And the possibility of the degrees you do receive abroad not being recognized in your home country is also an issue. However, there are actually plenty of education opportunities readily available online, often completely free of charge. It is possible to pursue the same sorts of educational opportunities abroad, just as if you were in your home country, simply by taking your education online. Here are some great ways to continue your professional development from anywhere around the globe with an internet connection: 1. Pursue a second degree. It may seem like getting a degree is the last thing you have time for, especially if you have a full time job abroad, but it’s actually possible to fit in time to pursue a degree by doing so online. Most online programs allow students to study and participate in class at any time and from anywhere. There are also many programs that allow for taking classes one or two at a time. Two great sites for information on online degree programs are College Navigator and Online Education Database. 2. Look into free open courseware. Open courseware is a relatively new phenomenon. Tradition universities, including some of the most distinguished in the world, now offer many of their courses online, for free. They are designed so web users can go through them on their own and are meant to share information on a global scale. These courses typically cannot be applied toward a degree plan, but they are excellent modes of independent learning. Institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, and Yale University make a wide array of courses available to the public, and they can be taken at any time. MIT even offers certificates of completion for students who make it through. 3. Get a certificate. If you don’t feel the need to pursue an entire degree, you can also search for professional development programs that offer certificates. No matter what you would like to brush up on, there is sure to be an online course available geared toward professional development. For example, K-12 teachers could take professional development courses online in learning styles or scheduling by looking for databases like this great one from Teacher Source Book. Simply google professional development in your field for a myriad of options. 4. Follow podcasts. Podcasts are not actual classes, but they can provide a wealth of new information on a huge array of industries. Podcasts are typically recordings of lectures, talks, conversations, interviews or readings on a particular subject matter. Simply search for podcasts in your niche and download them to an iTunes account or your own computer folder. 5. Participate in Google hangouts. While you may not see the point of doing a Google hangout with long-lost friends, there are many more uses for this type of online meeting space. Google hangouts allow users from any location with an internet connection to chat as a group. You can simply turn on your webcam and connect to a Google hangout option within their Google account. Learn more about Google hangout. Try looking into online seminars and chat rooms that are focused on your industry, or on a topic that could benefit you. This is a guest post by education writer Barbara Jolie. Barbara is passionate about education and studyingonline. When not writing and thinking about all things education, Barbara is busy planning her next vacation and caring for her pet cat and bird. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo Credit: iStock