Multi-gadget experience

I am having an evening of multi-gadget-ness, sitting on the couch in the kitchen listening to Jo Whiley, drinking peppermint tea and eating small chunks of whole nut, with iPad and iPhone in arms reach while typing away on the netbook. Seems like a very long time since I’ve done this.

I’ve spent a good chunk of today reading through the latest and last posts from the gadgetry group in preparation for my presentation at the RSC-YH next week.  This is culmination of a Research and Scholarly Activity (RSA) project that has run for the last 6 months. The group was estabished with what seemed at the time a purposefully vague outline:

I’m looking for a group of ESOL teachers who are or have completed the DTELLS course at KC to join a network to investigate how mobile technologies and social media sites can support CPD activities.

From this I asked that they take a gadget (iPhone or iPad) join Twitter and any other social networking sites they wanted and use these tools for CPD activity. In terms of the research I asked that they contribute to a group blog, attend meetings and take part in an interview/forum at the end.

As I’m reading through the blog posts I seem to be coming across the same question – what counts as CPD? The IFL state that there are a wide range of activities that count, you just need to answer the following questions:

  • Have you undertaken professional development activities this year?
  • Have you reflected on the learning you have gained from these activities?
  • Have the activities and the reflection made a difference to how you teach or train?
  • Can you show evidence of this difference and the impact it has made to learners, colleagues or the organisation in which you work?

Meeting with one member of the group today she talked about following a link from Twitter last Friday evening to a webinar on writing activities for ESOL learners but she was unsure if this counted as CPD. Her rational for this was that it was not directly work related but she did it because she was interested in it. In terms of the above questions I would think that she could answer yes to all of them, perhaps possibly except for the last one. The impact she talked to me about today was relating to having confidence in her own knowledge and experience in order to be able to contribute to the webinar. How do you evidence this, and how do you evidence it in any meaningful way? If there isn;t evidence does it still count as CPD?

Another post has talked about the benefit of the iPhone is being able to write reflections on the go (on the train) as well as in class. However, she raises the following questions: “Why should I now spend time writing about it just for evidence?” There are many models of reflection, and this year has been really interesting hearing the trainees using these different models after their observed sessions, but I don;t think any of the models suggest explicitly that these reflections should be written down. Another theme coming form the blog posts is the value of discussion/networking whether this is face to face, in the office, down the pub, or virtually via Twitter. But this discussion definately doesn’t provide evidence of impact, does written reflection provide this evidence?

When Sam and I met recently to discuss the project we talked a lot about this aspect of impact of CPD activity and how you evidence this. When asked about my own CPD activity I can easily say that Twitter, the ESOL blogosphere and the iPhone have had the biggest impact on my teaching. My evidence for this is in the CELTA blog, the contributions to the blog from the trainees, feedback from the trainees and possibly the biggest evidence is the fact that the daytime group have set up their own post-CELTA blog. But where is the tangible evidence that my taking part in Twitter and having the iPhone has impacted positively. Would it have been as successful without those? How would I ever know? I just ‘feel’ that it has, I know that the portability and ease (another theme from Gadgetry) of the iPhone has meant that I’ve been able to share photos of the WB, audio from feedback as well as links to interesting blogs and send reminders. All these things I could have done without an iPhone, but I don;t think I would have.

So my big job now is to find the story that is hidden within all this data to tell at the conference next week, and to pluck courage to embark on some journal writing.

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