There’s a CPD revolution happening and you’d hardly know. Every week hundreds of teachers engage – willingly – in an hour long CPD session from the comfort of their own homes.
UKEdChat or #UKEdChat to the Twitter savvy among you is a whole new way of approaching CPD. Now I’m not going to slate the traditional way as I have testimonials from thousands of delegates each year telling me that our one day training courses have had a real impact on their teaching; BUT I’m more than a little bit interested in this new, free, innovative and cutting edge form or CPD.
At its best it’s a fast moving, up to the minute, innovative exchange of ideas.
At its worst it’s inaccessible information overload that’s hard to follow.
I’ve heard both views – a lot and I’m not sure where I stand on the topic.
A lot can depend on how good the moderator is. Each week there is one of a series of moderators. Their job is to decide on the potential questions for this week’s UKEdChat. To encourage people to take part, to keep the conversation moving once it’s happening, to highlight and retweet excellent tweets to ensure they are heard and to create a summary after the end of the chat.
The best moderators come up with really engaging questions which can realistically be tackled during the hour long chat session. They ask just the right questions at just the right moments to keep things moving and they effectively highlight all the most salient points. They also work hard to make sure that anyone who’s taking part for the first time is gently encouraged to get involved and is made to feel that their opinion counts.
Being a UKEdChat moderator is a hard job – I know because I stepped into the breach once and I’ve never known an hour go so fast. Blistered fingers and blurred vision were the result and I’m not even sure I did a good job. I did love it and I would love to do it again (hey @Colport… if you’re reading this take note ;-) ) as I quickly came to realise what a pivotal role it is in making UKEdChat a success.
You generally only hear the positives about UKEdChat and on the whole I’m a big fan. I’ve learnt a vast amount from the dozen or so I’ve taken part in. The sheer volume of people involved means that there are always a huge range of ideas and opinions being exchanged at all phases and abilities. The views of everyone from head teachers to teaching assistants are voiced and there are links a plenty. A huge number of positives… so what is there not to like?
Well… and I’m sure this will count as one of those controversial viewpoints which will invite both comments and hatred but I think it has to be said… there are problems with UKEdChat. It’s fantastic but it’s not perfect.
It gets more and more popular so the sheer number of people involved now means that it is complete information overload. When it’s an engaging topic literally hundreds of tweets are floating around, many points are repeated both because people share views and because lots of people retweet the best tweets. In the early days I would try and read everything and found that was near enough impossible. I also used to wait until an appropriate moment to make my point, but again you can’t do that… you just have to shout over the masses and hope! It’s a bit like having a staff meeting where everyone’s allowed to talk at the same time…
UKEdChat can also be extremely daunting for newcomers. Lots of people already know each other and everyone seems to know the rules of engagement. I can only begin to imagine how many people sit on the sidelines each week unable to get a word in edgeways.
There can also be a bias towards edtech topics – which is fantastic as it’s hard to get CPD on those topics elsewhere but at the same time I think it probably makes UKEdChat doubly inaccessible to those colleagues of ours that we’d love to introduce to Twitter and UKEdChat but who maybe find the photocopier a bit challenging.
I’ve taken a bit of a UKEdChat break the last few weeks as I’ve had another commitment on a Thursday night but having thought through the pros and cons of UKEdChat and having really missed the fast paced innovative ideas exchange I used to enjoy on a Thursday night I’m heading back this week. Despite some misgivings I think it’s an absolutely fantastic CPD resource and I’m willing to contribute in any way to keep it that way.
So what do you think? Does UKEdChat offer fantastic CPD or is it simply information overload? I’d love to discuss this further… either comment below or tweet me @CreativeEdu
You may also be interested in:
Twittering classes for teachers – Guardian.co.uk