CPD goes online
Early in the summer, a new facility appeared on the Learning and Teaching Scotland website. CPD Find is a national database of course providers that combines all those from the GTC Scotland register with a lot of new ones.
One criticism of the old register was the lack of quality assurance. Now newcomers to the list must provide references before being accepted. The database will also contain more than courses; so teachers searching for a subject should also find professional reading, case studies, or examples of international visits.
CPD Find is currently available on the CPD Scotland section of the LTS website. But as the Glow network for schools develops, it will feature prominently and benefit from many of its networking facilities, says Con Morris, project co-ordinator with LTS.
"As a nation, we do face-to-face continuing professional development really well," he explains, "but the problem increasingly is getting out of school, leaving classes behind. There are only so many twilight courses you can do. If you want to access CPD online, plan, reflect, go to providers to see what opportunities there are, Glow gives you the environment to do that."
A key part of that strategy will be the CPD Reflect toolkit which Mr Morris and his team are developing. This will enable teachers to plan and build up heir continuing professional development portfolio with half a dozen "tools" to help them.
A "reflection" tool will allow them to look at video examples, say, of challenging situations in the classroom. If teachers then need more help on that topic, they can be guided towards materials or courses that are available.
A "portfolio" tool will contain a profile, a record of personal information and an evidence bank with work stored on it. A "journal" tool will allow them to keep a diary of their professional development. For example, "Today, I was doing mapping skills with S2 didn't go well," says Mr Morris.
Then there are tools for planning, for professional review documentation and for sharing.
When teachers have access to Glow, they will be able to go to Glowmeet, which contains a web conference facility. Mr Morris illustrates the benefits with a scenario of "Gary", a young teacher overwhelmed by his workload, and "Ann", a CPD co-ordinator who is his mentor and works somewhere else They can work together, online, on Gary's work-life balance. So she can discuss with him where he has got to this week, and put a sheet of paper on screen for him to check off. He can score through the items he has achieved.
"When Glow technology is rolled out across the country, every teacher will have access to Glowmeet videos, chat and worksheets," says Mr Morris.
In the very near future, he will be saying to local authorities: "Have you got the tools to support this?"