Online Professional Development – What can it do for you?

June 22nd, 2018

The accessibility of online professional development is raising possibilities which will revolutionise professional development for all of us.

An online event can easily be shared with a large group, without need for a venue, or facilities such as parking or refreshments, and without copious amounts of paperwork! Online courses are fast, eco-friendly, cost effective and can readily be adapted to be inclusive. They can also be quickly changed to reflect new legislation and current events, and course attendees can be notified of updates. Course feedback can be instantaneously shared, and certificates immediately downloaded. It sounds perfect, but, given the choice, most people will still opt for real-time, face to face tuition.  Why is this?

Feedback from our governors flagged the value of networking in person, and sharing good ideas, as one of the highlights of face to face events.  People may also have had negative experiences in the past with technical problems that have blighted conference calls and online workshops with poor audio quality or patchy internet connection.  This might lead them to think that a virtual event will not be able to give them this level of discussion and interaction.

In addition, during earlier incarnations, online professional development and some of its providers, had a chequered reputation from ‘tests’ that could easily be passed by repeatedly trying all answers in turn, to ‘qualifications’ that were out of date or so basic that they were not worth the time to study. This led to a perception that online professional development, in general, was less valuable, despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

However, now that technology is more advanced, and new kinds of learning activities are becoming commonplace, organisations have greatly developed their use of virtual teaching methods. We are becoming more and more reliant on technology in every other aspects of our lives and therefore it is surely only a matter of time until we use it more regularly for our personal development.

Within the Octavo Governance team, we have been looking into a range of learning options which will supplement our provision and make it more easily accessible to governors who have difficulty getting to our events. By making certain topics accessible electronically for our governors and clerks, it means that they can complete their development in their own time, when it is convenient for them. This is in addition to the full range of face to face courses we offer. This will enable governors to choose the options that best suit their needs and their own learning style, and it is anticipated that governors will use a range of these activities to get the best from the Octavo Professional Development programme.

Our Governors and Clerks belonging to those schools that purchase our annual contracts are already able to use the range of basic and refresher Governance units in the Virtual College, such as Basic Safeguarding and Exclusions modules. Whilst we put a big emphasis on our face to face training programme, online professional development is also a fantastic tool for our governors and clerks, and an exceptionally good way to keep ticking over during school holidays or even to sneak in a bit of training during your lunch break! We have been working very closely with Learning Link support to help customers access this service quickly and easily.

The future for Octavo Governance is likely to involve a much wider range of online professional development methods for governors to choose from, including video blogs, real-time face to face workshops, online modules and downloadable documents. Schools, school staff and governors will be able to dip into learning at times which suite them, design their own professional development, work at their own pace and convenience, and supplement our regular course programme with specific online tuition.

Optional self-testing and refresher modules are one way in which online interaction can work alongside a face to face event, enhancing its impact. Online activities can also be supplemented by a range of learner support between events, such as mentoring, telephone advice and support, and access to a large, current and comprehensive resource bank.

So, what do you think? Online professional development Learning isn’t just for governors and clerks so how do other school staff feel about making the switch to online learning? What topics do you think would be suitable for e-leaning modules? We’d love to hear your thoughts and views on the matter so please do leave your comments below.

If you have an Octavo Governance contract, and would like to try this service, you can click here using your email address and school/Trust name to sign up or contact us at Octavo and we will be delighted to help you. For more information on the support our Governance team can provide your school click here.

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