As the pandemic hit, the Netflix model of CPD was quickly mobilised and streamed into homes and workplaces, allowing people to work on what they wanted to, when they wanted to.
The benefits of this approach have been of blockbuster proportions and should clearly remain part of our professional learning culture in future. Here’s why:
The benefits of online teacher CPD
It increases accessibility
The “on demand” approach to professional development allows colleagues to better manage their time and therefore engage with ideas in a meaningful way.
Offering autonomy around accessing quality CPD also supports buy-in (in a market that can be cursed with discredited pseudoscience and subsequent cynicism).
Schools’ CPD programmes should include quality pre-recorded content, to be accessed when convenient and supported by crucial reflection time to ensure that it can be assimilated into staff learning culture.
There are also opportunities for those colleagues who deliver professional development to use recording technologies such as Loom and Microsoft Teams to streamline their own workload; by creating a ‘bespoke to setting’ back catalogue of sessions that can be referred to support of recruitment, coaching and whole-school improvement – whilst ensuring that these opportunities remain timely and impactful.
It offers more choice and clearer messaging
It is important that this is not reduced to some form of time-filling edu-tainment and the purpose remains the same. But the effects can actually be better.
The use of remote CPD has huge benefits in terms of not only school budget, teacher time and workload, but also the ability to get direct access to experts in the field, which would otherwise be impossible. This has the potential to ignite real interest in supplementary CPD, too.
Going direct to source in this way reduces the risk of fundamental truths and core concepts getting lost as they are interpreted and redelivered down the chain of command. Key messages and drivers are preserved, avoiding misconceptions and loss of impact (which is a key factor in the kind of reductive professional development that causes more harm than good).
It offers leaders more time for reflection
Taking advantage of the wealth of remote, pre-recorded support materials also allows us leaders time to reflect on refining our CPD programmes. We can explore what staff are exploring and consider what we need to do more of and do better.
Lisa Lockley is assistant headteacher at John Willmott School in the West Midlands