It’s a simple principle, usually overlooked when it comes to any kind of staff development involving technology. Ask people how they feel about it. First of all. Before Logging in. Before you hand out the notes.
<- Say it with a picture
Sit in a group, face to face and let each person have their moment to say really, how they feel about how technology affects their role. Let them draw what they feel – as this tutor did. Trust me, it works magic.
This week, a potentially abrasive two hours of point and click Moodle training for a Sixth Form College in a packed (let’s not say sheepdip) staff development day, turned in to a fabulous peer development session – starting with each tutor, of about twenty, frankly sharing their relationship to Moodle, based on a drawing each had done : happy/unhappy faces, images of isolation, confusion, needing help, seeking direction – others had confidence, happy students and so on.
Listen, and Listen again
The senior tutor was the scribe and recorded a valuable checklist of takeaway actions to solve – many about simple things like logins and access. Arms became unfolded, resistance lowered, interest grew. Every participant felt acknowledged, felt heard and learnt something unique that they would never find elsewhere: how everyone else is affected by the technology in trying to perform their role.
Context is everything
So much of IT training is delivered outside of people’s working experience and context. Peer learning is so much more vivid and engaging. Four tutors in this group emerged as clear leaders – and they led the rest of the session, Showing and Telling about their context and how student assignments were set, uploaded, marked … and we just about got on to some pedagogy, which is really what Moodle is supposed to be for, once the basic admin is all sorted.
Social Age Learning
The greater risk is NOT taking a risk
It takes courage to step out of our comfort zone and take risks and even more so when we do it during a high stakes situation when staff development time is pressured and results expected. Taking this peer-led, coaching approach to IT training has always worked for me. Honestly.
I trust that these tutors personally and together will go on to develop their own experience in a way that will keep rewarding them – in a way that my ‘powerpoint and handouts, point and click session’ would have been long forgotten.
Instead I was free to go round the small groups asking about their experiences and aspirations – and didn’t do a single minute of Moodle training in the whole two hours 🙂
I hope the buzz of shared purpose is surviving the rest of the staff development week.