Friday, 18 January 2013

ASE conference session: Online models of CPD

I was invited to this session by Emily Perry at the Science Learning Centres, along with other teachers who had taken part in a trial of online CPD. Three of us were at the conference and able to attend.

I have written about it in blog posts previously, here and here

The first section of the session was about Experiences and expectations of CPD
There are lots of ways that teachers can experience CPD. The question was posed: Does online CPD get put into its own category? Should it?

Online CPD can take all sorts of forms. If you are reading this, then it is online cpd. Twitter is often claimed to be CPD. It is possible to for articles and pedagogy ideas online as well as using YouTube and TED. However we were interested in online conferencing and discussions; face to face, but not in the same room.

We were asked the following question: What describes the best CPD? (Any type)
The words we came up with as a group were: Relevant, reflective, new, Stretching, useful, problem solving, socialising , strategies.

Socialising was interesting, I shall return to that point.

I thought that an excellent quote about the merits of CPD in general was: "If it doesn't solve a problem then I don't want to be involved in CPD". It is a great message to any manager or teacher about the usefulness of taking part in cpd.

Before going on to explain the projects carried out by the science learning centre we were asked to consider the rhetorical question: Does "face to face" mean different things now - what does it mean?

The Two Examples of Online CPD

This section of the session was started with an overview about why the SLCs were interested in online methods of delivering CPD.

They find it is:
-difficult to get teachers out of school,
-difficult to get the SMT to prioritise subject specific CPD,
-and really difficult to get teachers out for subject knowledge/contemporary science.

With this in mind investigating online models seems a very sensible idea.
The SLC found a good thing about video conferencing they used is that it is managed by JANET, the academic network, and very stable, good quality audio and video. But that skills are needed to manage the online dialogue.
Initially the two trial projects were:

Science without walls:
Involving 6 scientists in 6 different sessions communicating with science teachers in hour long sessions which involved discussions and questions - dialogue.

The sessions had to be carefully managed because "socialisation" is important part of online CPD as it is harder than face to face.

It was a really interesting sounding project, brining scientists to schools and teachers without either having to move great distances.

And Teaching Challenging Topics
This project was the one I was involved in and had both synchronous (video chat/meetings) and asynchronous (web forum) activities.

The online "face to face" sessions were done using the adobe connect software.

Again using the video conference software presented challenges when managing meetings as there are less body language cues from participants when all you can see are their head and shoulders.

As mentioned the project also use the hub between meetings to upload resources and have forum discussions.

Outcomes from the teaching challenging concepts programme:
-Content that was found and developed by the SLC to support the teachers teaching that particular challenging concept.
-Getting to know other teachers and teachers in other contexts
-Using the online tool became part of the CPD

Next steps in developing online CPD
Socialising is important in CPD
Reviewing CPD sessions periodically.

I really enjoyed revisiting this project and it brought back a lot of the good points. Working with people online made me a much more proactive and reflective practitioner, and I liked to think that I was those things already. It has slipped though so the session was very useful in reminding me how it felt to deeply consider what I was teaching and the impact.

The theme throughout the session was about socialising being an important part of CPD. I hadn't considered that before. However, the social side of the ASE conference itself was very beneficial to me. I think I got more out of it because there was more of a social side for me, it made me comfortable and confident.

Both in interacting both with people I do know and people I don't, by swapping ideas in the context of our schools, allows us to reflect on what will and won't work.

Before taking part in the "teaching challenging topics" online CPD I had never considered in this level of detail what it takes for CPD to be worthwhile. There are a lot of levels to it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Online models of CPD

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