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Professional learning - lessons learnedDesigning Online Courses, Evaluation, Teacher CPD 2007 views
For the past couple of years, I've been working on an extended project which has investigated the extent to which organisations can create CPD (continuous professional development) opportunities which have impact and reach beyond the training room.
These are some of the lessons I've learned from it. It's not designed to be a fully-fledged evaluation - just my initial thoughts.
- When embarking on a “course” of CPD that is longer than a one-off intervention it needs to be carefully matched to the priorities and expectations of the people who will be involved. This matching needs to be a continual process throughout the course, especially if there is a learner-driven element such as online interactions or accessing resources. If the learners feel, at any time, that the “course” is not meeting their priorities or their expectations, they are likely to drop-out, or to only engage in those parts that they feel most comfortable with (most likely the face-to-face components).
- If a forum will be an essential component of the communication plan, then email subscriptions (Moodle terminology) to the forum should be enforced, rather than be made optional.
- Although blended learning has been equated to choice, we need to be clear about which elements of the blend are essential components and which are optional.
- Every CPD opportunity needs to have a clear communication plan which will set out the purpose of the opportunity, what people will be expected to gain from it, and what participants will be expected to do within it. The plan should indicate how the inidividual participants concerned will be communicated with.
- When working with people who are new to working online, a face-to-face session at the very beginning is essential. To set priorities and expectations, and to introduce people to why and how they will be communicating online. This could even be a partially paper-based session (similar to, for example, the Paper Blogging exercise described at: http://mlearning.edublogs.org/2007/03/16/workshop-activity-paper-blogs/
The most important thing out of all of these is setting expectations and generating motivation. This is critical for any medium to long term CPD experience - especially those with an online element, where the learner is in total control of their experience.