MARS Professional Development Committee

With the merger of the Education, Training and Support with Professional Development (PD), MARS now has a new “Super Committee.” Take a look at our membership herd at our new ALA Connect site.

The PD Committee sponsored the first webinar for RUSA on August 2, 2011! Using GoToWebinar software recently licensed by RUSA, this webinar was an “Introduction to Screencasting Tutorials” based on content from a previous MARS program during Annual 2010. There were over forty attendees and plans to repeat this session are tentatively scheduled for December 16. We still have some growing to do in planning and executing webinars, but the potential is enormous and the support from RUSA is fantastic.

If you have any ideas for a MARS webinar, please contact Nancy Cunningham, Chair of Professional Development ( The committee will be working on developing future webinars that shoujld be of value to ALA members. We are also interested in training other MARS commitees on the process and best practices for implementing webinars. Professional development is something that every MARS committee offers. We are eager to partner with any other committee and have lots of able members.

PD members also volunteered to participate in a joint RSS/MARS Subcommittee to plan preconference sessions. Both MARS and RSS intend to offer affordable professional development sessions as preconferences by finding locations and presenters that support our educational efforts without high fees. Got a great idea for a preconference? Please let Nancy know about it and she will pass it along.

Our committee held its first virtual meeting in October using GoToWebinar software! We found this to be an effective and fun way to conduct committee business. Members can record notes, visit websites, respond by voice or chat—the ultimate communication experience. No more scrambling at Midwinter to share ideas. We intend to continue having regular virtual meetings to help us stay on track with planning activities. Using the webinar software for virtual meetings also helps us improve our technical skills. Some of the challenges to virtual meetings have been scheduling, which required using Doodle to determine best meeting times and troubleshooting during the session. However the support from RUSA has been excellent and our committee will gain more experience as these virtual meetings become routine.

Van Houlson, Co-Chair