Monday, 19 May 2008


Transforming Staff Development

As mentioned in an old blog post on rapid Cop. I've been exposed to two new methods of problem solving recently. The first being the appreciative enquiry model, which was employed when JISC & the Academy locked horns to thrash out some ways of collaborative working back in Dec' 2007. Incidently Jo Smedley & Sahron Waller have compiled a wiki to help us collaborate easier - which is nice & very useful.

THe second method is the the World cafe method, which I've used in a recent Second Life event we ran, which was also employed at the JISC/HEA. Both required some planing and facilitaion but are designed for conversation and active participation.

A recent SWAP academy staff dev' event I assisted with could well be construed as an unconference, as it was a clever mix of hands on and some traditional presentations to groups. It was held at University of Birmingham in their new social sciences building and consisted of opportunities for groups of staff to book my time as an elearning consultant to create a learning object during the 24 hours of the event. During this time there was also opportunity to watch presentations covering current technologies. The day went very well, and I was certainly impressed with the format, as Julie Waldman said at the start of the event;

"this is not like any other event you've been to, it's up to you as teams to decide how you want to best spend your time."

I must say there was a few minutes of "you mean we're not going to sit here passively all day and be preached to" by the delegates, but everyone soon adopted a positive approach, and realised that they were very much in control of the day. I met some very nice people and really experienced my first staff development unconference type event. And really enjoyed it.

To sum up :

  • A booklet was given to predetermined project teams (4 max)
  • A project plan was required to be completed befoe the event
  • e-learning consultants time (me, Simon Ball, etc) could be booked by teams
  • Breakout rooms could be used for small group work
  • video and cameras and web technologies were made availble to delegates
  • Parallel traditional sessions were conducted in the main room (could have been in a side room?)

The day was organised by Julia Waldman who is leaving the academy. It was a fab day Julia.

I know Professor Gilly Salmon has promoted the use of groups for staff development for a while now. As does Greta Barnet of South Birmingham College whom I assisted back in Easter . She developed two sessions running for 2.5 hours using groups who had to create, upload and present their CAA types to the group
(the blockbuster quiz was a favourite for all). Both sets of staff really did well and it was a rewarding day. I can throughly recommend the group method of staff development. I've experienced it twice this year and it really works effectively (if planned and supported well).

NOTES: Ensure you have a planned timescale, and plenty of helpers to assist on the f2f sessions. In both sessions, there were plenty of e-learning experts around for staff to call upon.

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