ADVICE

Educators need to take charge of their own professional development, this is how

SOURCE: Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
Teachers are required to build new skills as they use digital platforms to teach students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


By Geetha Bai 

Read all stories


Online training is growing, and professionals in the education field now have the option of upskilling themselves through online Continued Professional Development (CPD) courses.

Teaching is an evolving field and CPD courses can offer many benefits to educators. As the teaching industry changes, teaching methods are also expected to change. Experienced educators may find themselves unable to keep up with educators who are freshly out of formal training institutions.

CPD courses give educators the opportunity to learn new techniques and strategies which enable them to remain productive and effective.

The introduction of education technology (EdTech) tools in teaching and learning have made it essential for educators to upskill themselves. A research survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of RS Components titled The EdTech Report: A guide to the current state of educational technology and where it is going clearly stresses this need.

The report states that although there are plans for a £10 million UK government strategy for EdTech in schools, there is still a lack of understanding when it comes to educational technology among educators in the UK.

The survey results show that although half of the educators surveyed (51%) said they know what EdTech is, 36% said they have heard of it but do not know what it is, and alarmingly more than one in 10 (14%) have never even heard of EdTech.

The solution to this is CPD courses, which will allow educators to keep up to date with the latest developments which can be utilised to enhance everyday teaching.

The survey findings also reveal that although classrooms were once dominated by blackboards and textbooks, there has been a steady rise in the use of EdTech over the years.

At present, 79% of educators use EdTech in almost every lesson. In fact, regular use of EdTech in the classroom has more than tripled compared to 10 years ago, when only one in five educators were regularly using EdTech to teach.

YOU MIGHT LIKE

Why educators should be responsible for their own CPD?

Despite advances in educational technology in UK schools, the report shows that educators struggle to adapt to this new way of learning because of a lack of training. In other words, the large investments into EdTech tools for schools may not bear fruit.

This lack of teacher training is most evident at academy schools, where 60% said they do not think there is enough training available when it comes to technology. This was a similar scenario for educators at public schools, with 54% saying they do not believe there is enough training available.

Educators suddenly find the need to deliver learning online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowledge in skills in online teaching is important to make virtual classrooms work in practice. Among the skills required are how to use technological tools to deliver teaching and learning as well as how to create different pedagogical approaches for online delivery.

In addition to that, educators will have to create digitally inclusive content also apply EdTech best practices in teaching and learning. These include device and data protection as well as maintenance, save storage practices, effective communication as well as managing and protecting students’ digital footprints and online identity.

So, while CPD delivery often takes shape in a top-down approach, educators need to be empowered to determine their own upskilling journeys. This statement is echoed by the government standard for teachers’ professional development which promotes the need for teachers and other educational staff to take control of their own professional learning.

CPD programmes not only help educators to keep pace with the current standards of others working in education but also ensures they can deliver high-quality teaching and impact positively on pupil outcomes. In fact, 88% of school leaders believe that Initial Teacher Training does not adequately prepare teachers to help those who have special education needs and disabilities (SEND). Further training can allow teachers to build on their interaction skills and learn strategies for helping these pupils to achieve their full potential.

CPD has been shown to increase teacher motivation, confidence, and commitment to teaching. Learning new skills and applying them in the classroom can lead to a more stimulating and effective teaching environment.

YOU MIGHT LIKE

Choosing the right professional development courses for teacher training needs

The research summary by the government standard for teachers’ professional development listed recommendations for school leaders, teachers, and organisations that offer professional development for teachers.

The five-part standard outlines the professional development areas that should be included in the CPD for teachers. This includes programmes that focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes, are supported by robust evidence and expertise, include collaboration and expert challenge, sustainable, scalable and continuous.

Educators can start their professional development journey by participating in CDP by joining online communities, interacting with like-minded practitioners, academics, and other specialists in the education field. Many of these groups already exist on social media platforms where group members swap resources and techniques.

A more structured approach would be to sign up for online professional development courses. However, some courses are already available online, either for free or with options to upgrade.

Blended Learning Essentials: Getting Started is an online course available for free that helps teachers to promote effective practice and pedagogy in blended learning. This course is accredited by the CPD Certification Service and can be used to provide evidence of professional development.

The course will help educators discover the importance of blending digital learning methods into teaching. The course will allow teachers to connect with teaching and training professionals who understand the practical challenges of using blended learning.

online learning
A six-year old boy learns through online learning resources provided by his infant school. | Source: Oli Scarff / AFP

Teachers who are new to creating online content will also benefit from the How to Create Great Online Content course, developed by the University of Leeds, also available for free. This course will help teachers to create structured engaging content for an online audience, to meet teaching and learning goals.

Teachers can also upskill their digital knowledge and keep their students safe online by enrolling in the Introduction to Cybersecurity for Teachers free course. This course is supported by Google and explores the key concepts of cybersecurity, which is important to help students stay safe while using technology.

Teachers will learn about attacks that individuals and devices are vulnerable to and how to prevent them. The course will also explore malware, malicious bots, SQL injections, and physical threats to data, all of which are essential to teachers who are using multiple digital tools for online teaching.

Educators can also expand their horizons through Teaching English Online: China and Beyond, a course that will provide them with the right tools to deliver effective online English lessons whether to students in China or around the world.