You can always learn something new from the past.
I’ve just finished reading Julie Hall’s excellent article in SEDA Issue 9.1 (Feb 2008) which examined the aspects of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) that were most valued by academic staff:
- talking at meetings, social events, awaydays, and sometimes in the corridor
- involvement with professional networks and Teaching Fellow networks
- talking with students and colleagues
But staff expressed their concern that this valuable time was often not factored into workloads, and was even not physically possible in some environments due to lack of a social space. There was also a tendency for central support units to assume that staff are free to attend CPD sessions when they are not. Julie Hall highlights that that ‘development works best when it is contextualised and comes at the right time’.
Staff also indicated that they would like to receive some kind of reward or recognition for their academic practice, stating that:
- ‘I’d like someone to notice all the work I’m doing all day and say thank you to me individually’
- ‘It’s nice to be asked to contribute to the development of new programmes or just be asked your views on something’
So how can Learning Technologists help?
The UK Professional Standards framework encourages ‘professional conversation’ which, through dialogue, should aim to provide insight into what academics perceive, know, value and discard. Learning Technologists are privileged in their opportunity to work with numerous academics, course teams and professional support departments. Our position provides ample opportunities to engage in professional conversation, so here are five suggestions as to how Learning Technologists can support the aspects of CPD highlighted above:
1. Be talking to staff and congratulating them on experimenting with innovative approaches to enhancing learning and teaching with technology. This will help them feel valued.
2. By sharing relevant experiences of academic staff with other tutors across the university, promoting good practice in a context that is relevant to the tutor’s current teaching.
3. By using our knowledge of technology to create short case studies, e.g. video podcast interviews with academics, providing them with a voice and a platform from which to share their experiences.
4. By asking staff for their input into the development of new workshops and training sessions – what do they want and when do they want it?
5. By creating spaces, both physical and online, where tutors can meet and discuss their practice.
Hall, J. (2008) ‘Time to develop my career? That’s a fantasy!’ What academics said about their roles and CPD needs and how I tentatively introduced them to professional standards. SEDA Issue 9.1, February 2008, pp. 7-10