As the 31 August 2009 deadline approaches for teachers and trainers in further education and skills to declare their continuing professional development (CPD) for the first time, we are very pleased to see that more than 65,000 of our members are using REfLECT to plan, review and record their CPD.
REfLECT is the online, personal learning space provided by IfL as a benefit for all our members, and our target was that 40,000 of our members would be using REfLECT by March 2010.
Through our partnership working, the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS), Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), the Learning and Skills Network (LSN), regional support centres and others have adopted and promoted REfLECT in their programmes, and we have already exceeded our target considerably.
The window for 2008-09 self-declarations of CPD opened on 1 June 2009, and we invited the early birds who declared during June to share their evidence of CPD as part of a first-phase random sample. As part of this preliminary research, we have been looking at the patterns and types of CPD being undertaken, and focusing on the impact of CPD on teaching and training practice and the quality of learning and learners' success.
A review of this pilot sample indicates the range we can expect from across the sector in a variety of formats – from brief lists of attendance at events to detailed accounts, including reflection of impact on practice. What we found striking was the quality of the reflections on practice and the impact that CPD had made on learners, as evidenced from IfL members using the REfLECT tool – more than a third of the sample.
The REfLECT users found the format and structure embedded in the process to be invaluable when recording and evaluating their CPD activities. Early evidence indicates a more detailed interrogation of CPD when REfLECT is used, and feedback from evaluations suggests that it is helping providers adopt a whole-organisation approach to CPD.
We will undertake a more detailed analysis when all the declarations have been made, and will produce a report on the CPD returns and members' commitment to their professionalism in December, when the full review is complete.
Supporting individual and organisational professional development
Our definition of CPD for teachers and trainers in FE and skills is broad: for us it means maintaining, improving and broadening relevant knowledge and skills in your subject specialism and your teaching so that it has a positive impact on practice and on learner experience.
The learning can be formal or informal, extending beyond courses, workshops and formal studies. These activities that IfL members might choose to undertake as part of their CPD include: Peer coaching; subject learning coach or advanced learning coach training; mentoring new colleagues; peer review; peer observation; work shadowing; team teaching; designing innovative feedback mechanisms, with learners and peers; continuing professional dialogue and opportunities for learning conversation; curriculum design, development and validation; reading and reviewing books or journal articles; updating knowledge through the internet, television and other media, and reviewing these with a group of professional colleagues; and sharing ideas and resources with other teachers’ and trainers through REfLECT.
REfLECT goes mobile
We have also been collaborating with MoleNET on an initiative that allows IfL members to capture their thoughts, ideas and reflection on the move.
Recognising the importance of mobile technologies in supporting teaching and learning, and their impact on professional development, we have developed REfLECT Mobile, which can be accessed using: A programme designed to operate on Windows Mobile PDAs and smartphones; a Java-based file upload tool compatible with most mobile devices and a very simple version of REfLECT via the browser on any mobile device.
There is also a toolkit that allows developers to create JavaMIDlets.
This innovative approach is proving popular with members and partner organisations, and places IfL at the forefront of developments in this area.
Feedback from users
Here is a small sample of the comments we have received from REfLECT users:
"Staff who use REfLECT have been surprised at how user-friendly it is. They value having a tool that makes it easy to keep their CPD records in line with IfL recommendations, and the fact that it belongs to them and cannot be accessed directly by college management or IfL, but can be made available to IfL and their employer when required."
Katie McCombe, staff development manager, Walford and North Shropshire College
"Thank you to IfL for supplying this tool for recording CPD. It's easy to use and is a fantastic vehicle for sharing continuous improvement across our organisation."
Sarah Pigott, learning and development coordinator, Beneast Training
"The lecturing staff at Knowsley Community College, including our principal Frank Gill, the senior management team and the directors, have used REfLECT since our involvement in the pilot, in February 2008. Those who have undergone Professional Formation in order to achieve QTLS have also commented favourably on its use – the ‘click of a button’ pro forma submission through the gateway means that documents, statements, certificate photocopies or any other necessary evidence can all be uploaded, which avoids time and effort on packaging and posting."
Sue Rhodes, staff development manager, Knowsley College
"Compiling your portfolio for Professional Formation on REfLECT is straightforward and secure, and can support your work tremendously. IfL is to be commended for providing this powerful e-tool for members."
Benson Ferrari, Herefordshire Literacy Project (HELP)
31 August 2009 is the deadline for declaring CPD
Teachers and trainers working in LSC-funded provision need to be members of IfL and spend at least 30 hours each year on CPD (pro rata for part-time teachers and trainers). This should be declared to IfL by 31 August every year.
Self-declaration forms are now available in the members' area of IfL’s website and, for those using the online learning space REfLECT, within the CPD record.
Dr Jean Kelly is the head of professional development at the Institute for Learning, the professional body for more than 190,000 teachers, trainers, tutors and student teachers across the further education and skills sector
For more information about CPD and the wide range of formal and informal activities that can count as meaningful professional development, visit www.ifl.ac.uk/cpd