Beyond events:online professional development for part time staff Janet Macdonald OU in Scotland SHED Annual meeting Jun 2007
Learning to be a teacher.. • If you train staff, students learn better (Gibbs & Coffey, 2004) • Most staff learn to be an HE teacher “on the job” • remembering own experience as students • and shared social practices (Knight, Tait &Yorke 2006) • But events still important for introducing new ideas, policy and practice
Eraut says.. Learning depends on the intention of the learner • implicit: taken for granted • reactive: in response to need for information • deliberative: when time deliberately set aside (Eraut, 2000)
OU in Scotland part time tutors • 550 in all parts of Scotland • Work from home • Mark assignments • Provide tuition • Professionally isolated!
Library resources • 14,000 electronic journal titles • 7,500 e-books • 255 databases • 93 courses integrating e-resources
Startrek to Shakespeare... Star Trek to Shakespeare
Electronic assignment submission student eTMA system Staff tutor tutor monitor
Researching online professional development • Tutor Moderators: formal provision • Online communities: supporting non formal learning
What does the course do? Three week training in online facilitation which covers • social skills • technical skills • pedagogical aspects Developed by OU in Scotland Run for the benefit of the whole OU community
Exit questionnaire • 130 respondents over 9 presentations Nov 2005-Oct 2006 • evaluation forum • experience • confidence/competence • successes • ideas for enhancement
Winning features Collaborative and experiential approach, working across faculties and regions ‘It’s good to see the range of approaches and solutions and carefully consider the pros and cons.’ ‘It’s been a great opportunity to be a participant in a conference where all the other contributors … are sharing experiences and practical tips.’
Winning features The online student experience ‘It has helped me to see things from the students’ perspective and this will be particularly important when designing activities for my own students.’ ‘…to get the sense of what it is like to be a new student in a group – hopefully I can hold on to that feeling if I do go on to moderate.’
Winning features • restricted flexibility • learning contract + activity list • certificate of completion
But participants want • Content to “take away” • Space to come back..
Methodology • Transcripts from 8 presentations Tutor Moderators course Jan 06-Jan 07 • 94 responses to Activity 1E • Iterative reading, emergent themes
Activity 1E Explore the forums on your desktop. • What forums did you visit? • What purposes did you think they had? • Share your observations and experiences in the Reflections forum with your fellow participants. Now have a look at the attached file to this message and see what we think. To what extent do you agree with these ideas?
Course discussion • “…- they are active and a reply to an urgent question usually takes only a few hours. ..We recently were questioning our own understanding of a particular [assignment] question. I guess it takes a brave tutor to say – I don’t get this- but once someone did it was huge relief and more added their concerns..” (Tutor 10, Jan 06)
Sharing resources • “One of the very experienced tutors has posted his tutorial handouts on his own website and I discovered that fact from the [forum]. The materials he has produced are outstanding and have saved many of his fellow tutors hours of work.” (Tutor 5, Jan06)
Peer support.. • “…a great way to get in touch with other [tutors], to keep in touch with the course team about things that we need advice about, or for us to give our own views and feedback. It’s also a great way to share a smile and a joke occasionally..many of us work in far flung places…so it’s good to feel part of a body of people from time to time.” (Tutor 68, Jun06)
Plenary, interdisciplinary. • “..there seems to be an intense discussion about politics and education provision. A debate is good, but in some opinions are quite forceful and may put someone off joining the [forum]. I would feel uncomfortable sending a message to this [forum]...” (Tutor 65, Jun06)
To join or not? • Centrality to role • Issues which matter • Size of message base • Clarity of purpose • Wenger, 1998 • Preece, 2000
Learning Development Team OU in Scotland www.open.ac.uk/scotland OU Knowledge Network http://kn.open.ac.uk