• James Kieft

Altering our approach to staff development.


Welcome to this month's blog post, for those of you who are regular visitors to my blog you will be aware over the past fews months a number of my blog posts have focused on the impact COVID 19 has had on teaching, learning and assessment in the Further Education sector.


So this post is going to follow a similar thread instead of focusing on a specific app. Before I start I think it's worth putting my role into context. I am a learning and development manager at a group of Further Education colleges. My role is focused on the development of teaching staff, this includes the organising of weekly CPD sessions, Summer CPD activities and our annual sharing of good practice events.


In this blog post I'm going to reflect on how our approach to running and organising staff CPD has changed and which aspects of those changes we hope to continue to use going forward.


In addition to the formal CPD activities we also mentor and support colleagues' informally with all aspects of teaching, learning and assessment. Colleagues are encouraged to drop in and ask for help and support.


For the informal support we set up a community of practice using Microsoft Teams that enabled colleagues to remotely reach out for support asking questions that were either answered by us or by the wider community instead of waiting on an individual to respond, It also provided us with a space where we could share resources and promote our webinars.


When it came to running our remote events such as webinars we were keen to ensure we were modelling best practice, highlighting to colleagues how they could use the different tools available to them.


During lockdown we were conscious that staff was spending an extended time in front of their computer screen whether that was delivering to students or attending team meetings. So to counter this instead of putting out our usual resources such as presentations that colleagues would have to look at we started to record podcasts that allowed staff to download and listen to them without having to use the screen.


Our summer CPD sessions were done in a webinar format, via the live event function in Microsoft Teams, the Webinars were recorded and recordings were made available via our channel on Microsoft Stream. The webinar format seemed to work well with colleagues able to tune from their desks and this resulted in a greater number of staff attending in comparison to face-to-face sessions. And those who were not able to attend the live event could catch up by watching the recording.


Our end of academic year sharing of good practice event and staff awards were also moved online, historically this would have been a face-to-face event run at 3 separate sites. The event featured a number of webinars run over a morning. These included an interactive discussion when we heard from practitioners on how they have survived and adapted to working remotely. A panel discussion on the adopted areas of practice colleagues would like to continue beyond epidemic and a session focused on the development of Digital skills, highlighting next steps for colleagues having completed the JISC digital discovery tool including work through the ETF’s Enhance units. The morning of events were very well supported; with a large number of colleagues in attendance it highlighted there was desire to engage as a whole group and being online had not put colleagues off but instead encouraged them to engage.


So going forward we are looking at continuing to make use of many of the practices we adopted during lockdown as there are a number of wider benefits including:


  • We will continue to run our staff community of practice via Microsoft Teams as staff have got used to using it as a way of asking for help and support and accessing resources and webinars

  • We will also continue with running our CPD sessions online in the form of webinars which are recorded. So that those colleagues are not able to tune in live can watch at a time that is convenient to them.

  • We will continue to record and share podcasts, so colleagues can engage with out having to look at a screen.

  • As sessions are delivered by one person and everyone is saying the same session with a greater consistency of message being conveyed and less opportunity content misinterpreted.

Overall has been a very positive experience as we've moved CPD activities online as already mentioned it has allowed us to model best practice and that has helped to develop staff confidence and awareness of the opportunities for use of Digital.

The result has been greater levels of staff engagement. Reflecting back lots of the online approaches we ended up taking were already on the drawing board, lock down forced our hand and resulted in them being rolled out sooner.

So does that mean that our face-to-face CPD sessions are a thing of the past?

Well in the short term Yes whilst COVID 19 is still about we will need to continue to work in that way. However going forward we will move to a hybrid model which provides a mix of online with face to face CPD activities.

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© 2020 by James Kieft