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?