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Moodle Thoughts and reflections

CPD where you’d least expect it

Ok, so the title’s just a little bit misleading because while there are certainly settings where engaging in CPD wouldn’t be likely, meeting up with an ESP instructor to talk about online courses isn’t one of them.

I spent this Saturday morning with a colleague who is planning to introduce a blended learning component into one of his regular (traditional) courses. His institution uses Moodle, so the idea was that I would show him how some of the resources and activities work in practice, as I’ve tested quite a few of them out in my course over the past couple of semesters.

It turned out that this instructor has some experience with Moodle, so we could skip the orientation details and dive straight in. He talked me through the activity types he was familiar with, like quizzes and an interesting activity I hadn’t used before as my course is entirely online: the attendance register. (I’d actually assumed this was a resource and not an activity, but the official site says otherwise.)

He then described the course he wanted to add online features to and we brainstormed a little on how this could be done in relatively undemanding fashion because of the time constraints involved. I showed him my course and some activity types I think work well, for instance, my favorite: the peer review (workshop). The idea of dividing students into groups and assigning a forum to each group also seemed to appeal, particularly the concept of the Q&A forum in which you can’t read earlier posts until you’ve added your own.

Throughout all this we talked about our courses and students, some common issues we’ve come up against and how we deal with them, and compared our specific teaching environments. I recommended the Learn Moodle MOOC, which I felt was tremendously useful for me when I was starting out and which they’ll be running again in June.

Later on in town I spotted some people toting bags bearing the logo of a well-known ELT materials publisher and I realized this was the day they’d held their traditional one-day event. I used to attend when I was at Octopus. And it occurred to me that they would get a certificate of attendance, while I had also spent a not inconsiderable amount of time doing CPD, only this doesn’t translate into any kind of formal recognition.

Please don’t get me wrong; I love talking about my course – if anyone knows this it’s the readers of this blog – and it’s fantastic to have an opportunity to do this with someone who is interested in online learning. I also found it very useful to talk about my day-to-day teaching issues with someone in real life – I don’t get many opportunities to do this as I work in an office now and my virtual staffroom (my online PLN) is basically my only source of ELT-related news and info. It’s inspiring, motivating, supportive and generally lovely, but even someone who is really into online stuff appreciates talking to people over coffee about things of relevance in their local context.

What I’m saying is that it would be great if these less formal/completely informal forms of CPD were also somehow recognized for what they are. I haven’t been doing CPD for the certificates for ages now, but still. I have no practical suggestions re how this could be done though, for example, in terms of defining how long this CPD session lasted or which topics were covered, and I know this is important for people quantifying CPD.

What do you think? Are there countries or organizations where CPD already is defined as something beyond what you can prove has taken place with a certificate? Or do you feel this is unnecessary and would say there is no need to describe my example as anything other than a chat with a colleague?

By ven_vve

ELT, elearning, higher ed, teacher training, translation. Partial to the island of Vis since the pre-tourist era.

11 replies on “CPD where you’d least expect it”

Hi Vedrana,

I think that in an ideal world, everything we do about work would be valid and accredited. That we care enough to give time to bits and pieces that make work better and increase our knowledge should be rewarded. Making this CPD tangible is a bit difficult but I think you’re halfway there.

You could document it, as you have in your blog, but make what you learned a bit more explicit. Your colleague could even add their own words. Also, don’t be afraid to write a journal article. I’m sure there’d be plenty of people keen to read more about good practices for using Moodle. That article could then be a bit more tangible. It’s a bit of a judgement call – do want to give up more time to write something up without the guarantee that anybody else would care about it.

I keep a portfolio of things about my teaching, prompted by reading Richards & Farrell (2005)* during my Dip. I know at least two places that interviewed me seemed to like it.

I wish this were more straightforward.

Marc

*Richards, J. C. & Farrell, T. S. C. (2005) Professional Development for Language Teachers

Liked by 3 people

Hi Marc,

Sorry for being slow to reply. A journal article would definitely be one way to go. You’re right about the time factor; I feel I’d first have to do a lot of reading to put together something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to submit to a journal, even if the publication favored practice over theory.

The portfolio sounds interesting – I looked for it on your blog but it isn’t under presentations & publications, is it?

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Hi Vedrana!
I so understand what you mean! Having met people online and learning so much through dialogue and sharing actually made me aware of how little we usually share face to face. I don’t know if it is because of time constraints, or simply because we haven’t got the habit of just sitting down and talking about reflective practice per se.
It is something I would like to work more on. I don’t teach online so it is easier for me. But what I mean is that, even when you are surrounded by people, some conversations just won’t take place unless there is a collective interest in it (or reduced groups)..
Curiously enough, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, mainly because of a MOOC I’m doing (Becoming a Better Teacher _British Council) and the relevance of informal face to face discussions or meetups, regular teacher groups, etc. I wish I had more of that even if it were not recognized, which is another interesting point you make. I feel that the “informality” of it is would be precisely its main asset: more inviting, motivating, and more easily adapted to the needs of the people involved. But in my context it’s not likely it would be recognised either.
Lovely post as usual!

Liked by 1 person

Hi Anabel,

Your point about conversations not likely to happen unless there is collective interest reminded me of how when I started hanging out online more, it felt like the people I met there were genuinely interested in learning and sharing as opposed to those in my offline context. It would be unfair to say the latter weren’t interested, but my impression was that this was much less pronounced. I wonder now to what extent this feeling was due to the fact that I was responsible for organizing PD sessions at the school and encouraging people to attend and present at conferences.

The MOOC you’re doing sounds really interesting; is that the one Adi Rajan is mentoring on? And thank you for the last sentence! 🙂

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You mention badges in another post. Could the recipient award you one somehow (e.g. on the BadgeOS platform)? Or could they maybe validate one of your skills on LinkedIn? I’m not a fan of this platform but it is a way of recognising what someone does.

Liked by 2 people

Hi Neil,

Thanks for the comment. I like the badges idea (and LinkedIn, too, even though I don’t use it much). I’m not sure though that these microcredentials would be recognized if I wanted to use them for any kind of formal advancement, at least not in my teaching context. I think they might be viewed with a degree of suspicion because they haven’t been issued by some kind of accredited organization. In your experience, do employers take skills endorsements or recommendations on LinkedIn seriously? I’m sure this varies from country to country; we’re probably a bit behind as usual.

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I’m not sure how to get around the fact that these things aren’t necessarily recognised officially, but the question behind your blogpost is why I decided that ELT Playbook should come with the chance to get badges: https://eltplaybook.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/badges-for-elt-playbook-1-now-available/ as I think I’ve mentioned on a previous post you’ve written.
That’s also why I have a Continuous Professional Development section on my CV, and why I blog 🙂
Not sure that answers your questions at all, but thought I’d chip in anyway!
Sandy

Liked by 1 person

Hi Vedrana,

First of all I wanted to say how I love it when a colleague explains some technical stuff to me. I’m not the kind to read instruction manuals and I either work things out myself or go with limited use of the technology. Moodle is a great example. It’d be really nice if someone could explain it to me what can be done with it.
As for whether it counts as CPD, I think Marc said it all. I think if it counts as CPD for YOU, then that is what matters most. How you “market” it to the employer is another thing and what Marc said about the portfolio is a terrific idea.
Great post!

Kamila

Liked by 2 people

Absolutely agree on the portfolio idea. I really like it though I’m not sure what employers would say. Actually, I think those in the private sector would probably be interested and might use it to help them make hiring decisions, as in: “That person must be motivated!”
As far as public sector teaching goes, a public consultation was conducted just last month (online, so all the comments are available) on the Rules on Professional Advancement (don’t know if that’s the official translation) for primary and secondary school staff. The proposal was that points be awarded for activities in the following categories (my rough translation): organizing student contests and mentoring contestants, lectures and workshops, online training, engagement in professional associations, articles and classroom materials, projects, contributing to improving the work of the school, and contributing to improving the educational system. The activities are all quantifiable, be it in terms of projects completed or years spent contributing towards something.

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