This idea has been knocking around in my head for a few days. I’m not even sure it’s a practical suggestion but when you’ve got an itch you gotta scratch.
There’ve been quite a lot of new developments regarding CPD in the UK recently, the most obvious being the arrival of VITAL so it’s occupying a bit of my brain.
I’ve blogged before (and here) about my disillusionment with traditional CPD models where learners choose courses from a list, turn up and then hope to goodness that it changes their skills/behaviour. In many cases it might, but it seems like a hopeful scatter-gun approach to learning, not very effective if you are managing CPD for your staff.
I really like the Enquiring Minds model that Futurelab has written about where learning is directed by the learners, establishing a community that effectively teaches itself or drafts in outside help (professional or otherwise). It’s worth a look at and it’s being put into practice all over the shop (this for example).
The thing that interests me is the challenge of managing this group of learners especially if you are in a large organisation like a school or university. Groups of learners would have to be of a size that was self-sustaining without being overly big.
Also, not everybody wants to learn about the same things at the same time so how do you manage learning where the needs are so fluid?
And this got me thinking about Cell Groups. If you’re not familiar with the term, in a nutshell they’re a way of organising fellowship groups in churches (no wait, come back!) where a large congregation organises itself into small fluid groups where membership can grow and change over time. If a group becomes too large to sustain it is free to split. If members of one group feel they are a better fit elsewhere then they can join a different cell.
I was wondering whether this sort of model would work for CPD.
- In a school different cells would be formed for different special interests depending on where individuals’ needs for development lay, for instance, aspects of SEN provision, social networking as a learning tool, new literacies etc.
- Each cell would direct it’s own learning, collaborate, share experience and comment on each other’s progress.
- Within a cell, leadership wouldn’t necessarily be by any one person. It could be fluid or even non-existent, relying on leadership by consensus.
- When an avenue of development is judged by the group to be exhausted then the cell changes its focus or disperses and members join other cells or split to investigate other avenues.
- If individuals feel they are better served in different cells then they can switch mid-stream with the new group helping to support the new arrival in catching up.
The key thing is that these mini-communities
It’s all quite Darwinian. If it worked well then, with a bit of gentle direction, the cells would form around topics that were of most professional benefit to the learners themselves and therefore the institution.
It could also be quite chaotic and difficult to manage from the leadership’s point of view. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Not sure. The role of the leadership team would be to support learners in taking their development seriously and helping them to reflect and put into practice. With learners owning their own development the benefits would be greater than just plonking someone on a course and hoping for the best.
I’ll probably find that it’s already been in use for years and I just hadn’t noticed. Typical, really.
So, itch scratched. I’ll probably read this in a few weeks time with my head in my hands but the reason for having this blog was to record ideas, however naff.
If you have any thoughts on this I’d love to hear from you.
Go on, put me straight.