I've said before that I'm surprised about the impact writing a Blog each week has had on my capacity to reflect and I do feel I really benefit from it. It provides an opportunity to have another think about my activities each week, firms up my ideas and files them in amongst the rest of the nuggets of knowledge that are in my head - (bet you're glad I shared that thought with you!)
I've previously advocated the use of Blogs with learners as a tool for reflection. Many eportfolio systems include them along with templates that encourage Personal Development Planning (PDP) which is often an element in guidance programs, but a paper I was reading this week as part of some personal study that I'm undertaking, got me thinking a bit more about the idea. The paper was written by Lorraine Stefani the Director of the Centre for Professional Development at the University of Auckland. It essentially explores the link between PDP, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and the use of ePortfolios. She makes the point that there is a very low uptake by education professionals of formally recording the CPD that is an implicit part of their work (by virtue of their professional status). Stefani suggests a link between the attitude of staff to recording CPD (i.e.the resistance to it) and how it mitigates against the successful implementation of PDP with learners and the embedding of eportfolios into the curriculum. In other words if teachers have difficulty formally reflecting on their own development and documenting it, how can they really expect learners to be able to effectively reflect on theirs.
At the University of Auckland they implemented an initiative where staff were encouraged to develop a Teaching ePortfolio and there was the possibility that it would become mandatory for new staff to have one. Some staff development input was necessary and Stefani posed some interesting questions that would need to be resolved before a significant cultural shift might be seen:
Do line managers understand and value the concept of reflection on teaching and learning ?
Do line managers recognise the importance of teaching staff modelling the use of technology ?
They are not easy questions to answer. The initiative was introduced initially as a pilot with staff members, as part of an assessment strategy and staff who were facilitating and mentoring were also expected to maintain their own Teaching ePortfolio. It will be interesting to revisit this and have a look at the outcomes of the pilot when it's finished.
The idea of staff modelling the use of technology is something that the team at the RSC have always agreed with and is one of the reasons that I began to write a Blog. If institutions embrace new technologies for their own business processes, robust systems would develop and wouldn't it make perfect sense for teaching staff using new learning technologies for their own CPD.
The team here at the RSC endeavour to use the technologies that we advocate whenever possible and I do feel that it provides us with a real insight into the issues that will crop up for the people that we support in the post 16 education sector. It's really invaluable and I'd certainly recommend that learning by doing yourself will help to you to introduce ICT into the curriculum more effectively.
Stefani, L. (2003) ‘PDP/CPD and e-portfolios: rising to the challenge of modelling good practice’ [online], Association for Learning Technology. Available from: http://www.alt.ac.uk/docs/lorraine_stefani_paper.doc