Online learning on the mind

22nd February 2013 at 00:00

I enjoyed the challenge of Iain Smith's open letter in TESS (15 February) and agree with almost everything he envisaged as good continuing professional development. However, our online professional learning provision is just one of a range of Education Scotland offerings.

Many of the online materials have been developed for events or conferences and we have been asked to share them. We know that many of our materials are used to support local authority events and are not designed to be used by individual teachers.

Also, his letter missed any reference to professional learning communities within Glow. We launched our professional learning communities' area on the website in January. Already, they are attracting a considerable number of users who are taking part in online collegial activity, including sharing learner resources and professional learning insights and practice; participating in web conferences; following up on the impact of professional learning; and connecting with colleagues with similar interests.

Each community has one or more volunteer supporters who work with others to develop it, and we are seeing Glow enhancing other types of professional learning, such as "flipping" the learning for face-to-face events, reflective diaries for action research projects, online coaching, strategic leaders addressing wicked issues and supporting professional recognition.

Much of this feeds into the National Professional Learning Community, which is part of the journey towards the "one-stop shop" envisaged by Donaldson.

We are looking forward to yet more educators joining, starting, supporting and mentoring in the professional learning communities; more contextual links to the communities on Glow from our website; further development of Glow's social web features, providing more collegial activity as well as endorsement based on impact on learning; and the coming together of mentors to form the mentors' forum community you so rightly identify as key to implementing Teaching Scotland's Future.

All of these initiatives are key in strengthening professional learning. We are now embarking on a series of conferences reflecting and promoting that topic, with opportunities for educational leaders to consider how to improve professional learning.

We are also launching a new career-long learning network, involving a range of partners including Scotland's universities and local authorities.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss all of this with Mr Smith and to hear his views on what we could do better.

Con Morris, National CPD adviser, Education Scotland.

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