At the University of Central Lancashire, DigiLearn is proving to be a hugely successful approach to staff digital development. With a number of other institutions now adopting similar models, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips for successful development and delivery.
1. Start with a community – people first!
The most important aspect of any programme of digital development should always be the individuals partaking in the development journey. Before designing CPD activities, look at how you can build a community to encourage and develop a culture of sharing experiences and best practices.
Microsoft Teams provides an ideal collaborative workspace. It also has the ability to create numerous channels for different topics of conversation e.g. assessment, content, collaboration etc.
2. Empower your digital champions
Most organisations will often have early adopters of technology. Given the appropriate platform, these innovative colleagues can become authentic digital leaders – within and across organisational departments. Encourage a one-on-one mentoring system within a CPD programme. This adds relatability, as colleagues can learn directly from their peers.
Set up a Flipgrid topic as a space for your technology champions to discuss ways which they can support others. This can be a great method of facilitating the mentoring process. For example, colleagues are able to respond and start a mentoring dialogue through the engaging medium of short video clips.
3. Design structured and flexible pathways
We all like to have structure in our own professional development journeys. There are so many different training resources out there. Without any direction, the whole experience can become really overwhelming for anyone. It is often common for questions such as; “Where do I start?” and “What am I aiming for?” to arise. However, by aligning learning activities, CPD can start to take a structure, adding clarity to end goals.
Flexibility in delivery is also important, as people often have different learning preferences. Some colleagues might prefer to attend a physical workshop with peers. Others might prefer a more individual self-paced approach, or even to remotely drop-in to online webinars. Providing alternative pathways can help to ensure that all learning needs are catered for.
4. Gamify the process – make it fun!
It is common knowledge that if we enjoy the leaning process, then we are much more likely to engage! Gamification and badging are some great ways of putting the fun into CPD and can actually encourage healthy competition between teams and departments. Reward and recognition are really important in helping to instil a sense of confidence and pride in colleagues for their digital achievements.
The Microsoft Educator Community (MEC) provides a vast array of free CPD learning packages – some of which are app specific (Teams, OneNote), and others are more pedagogically focussed (21st Century Learning Design, Dyslexia Awareness). Members can complete courses to earn points and work towards badges, including Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE), and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE).
A successful culture of learning
By continuously engaging people, empowering your digital champions and building fun and interesting learning pathways, you’ll create a successful culture of innovative, supportive, and collaborative employees.
Creating a culture of learning is an on-going process, and won’t happen overnight. However, building on these tips and working them into your own CPD programme, you’ll be well on your way.
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About the author
Chris is a Senior Learning Technologist in the UCLan TELT team, and digital learning lead for the University’s Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. He holds Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy and has completed a PGCert in Digital Education with the University of Edinburgh. Since 2018, Chris has led development of UCLan’s innovative and sector-endorsed DigiLearn model – to recognise and reward the inclusive digital practice of academic colleagues. Keen to widen collaboration across the sector, he established UCLan’s DigiLearn Sector – a community fostered to connect digital practitioners from across FE, HE and beyond.
Chris is also an active member of the Microsoft, Jisc and ALT communities – regularly contributing to their respective blogs and presenting at various sector-level events. He is a lead contributor to UCLan’s own Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching blog, and has his own blog – #edtechthoughts. As a Microsoft Learning Consultant, Chris now works with other institutions – supporting their adoption of Microsoft technologies to improve both staff and student outcomes.