But what about staff that won’t or don’t want to engage in CPD?

computer classroom

I have received a number of follow up questions to my earlier post “Should we employ staff who don’t have digital skills?“. I will answer them in a little more detail than 140 characters allows.

This is an incredibly difficult but important issue. One that I don’t think I am qualified, or intelligent, enough to answer. So I shall talk solely from my experience and detail some of the things I find work best.

Getting people to turn up

Stop calling it CPD or training. There are fewer more off-putting words in the world of work. I find targeted training/CPD is best. Even better, is when you can identify a need and deliver something that meets that need directly. They’ll turn up if they know something needs improving.

Reward is a vital part of success. Or at least recognising efforts. I have seen many people do good works that go unnoticed and inevitably they lose interest. I don’t know what we can do about it. There is some hope that ‘badgeing’, giving staff a badge on successful completion of a session, will entice them to participate more. I’m sceptical.

What will be really help is if staff were given a reward in time or funding. For example they are given a small monetary reward that they can use on equipment, CPD or conference expenses. Or they could be given time back. I know that both of these options are complex and very unlikely to happen.

Measures

@KerryPinny But how much time, and how do we measure success?

Do we need to measure success? What is it we’re measuring? Learning or attendance? At the moment success seems to be measured by ‘bums on seats’. This is an incredibly simplistic measure. Plus who are we measuring it for? Do they want it as yet another stick to beat staff with? Hardly a developmental or supportive approach.  How do we measure student learning? We make them complete an assessment. Perhaps we could introduce that in to CPD. Although, that strikes me as a way to guarantee a drop in attendance.

I like the example in our law school. They have invited staff to participate in a Digital Week. The week aims to get staff to explore new ways of teaching with digital tools. Here the staff are being supported and encouraged with the space and time they need to explore.

Attitudes

@KerryPinny should we employ people who don’t want to gain the skills and capabilities that they don’t have, but need for the job?

— James Clay (@jamesclay) June 16, 2016

I believe engagement in the digital is a matter of relevance not attitudes. Attitudes can be changed and I have found they are changed most successfully by showing how technology is relevant to that individual or discipline. There’s nothing to be gained from showing up and saying “oooh look how shiny this new thing is”. You have to show them why they should engage in the first place. People first, tech second.

Now let’s pose an even more difficult question. How do we measure willingness? I can tell you I’m willing and give every assurance that I’ll do it. But what if I don’t? What if I tell you exactly what you want to hear. You gonna sack me? Even if I’m a top-notch teacher and researcher. Even if there are no complaints from my students? I think you wouldn’t.

So what can we do? Yes let’s put willingness to learn in the job specification. We could even get them to do a test. Perhaps we should hook people up to a lie detector? I’m sure that breaches a policy or human right or something. Or maybe, I might be crazy, we show prospective staff that learning is an expectation that will be supported and rewarded.

Priorities

Who’s going to remove their ‘choice’? “By executive order of the Vice Chancellor all staff are expected to complete x hours of CPD a week. Non-compliance will be met with punishment”. Sorry, I’m being facetious again. Our choices are dictated by the priorities of others. I am certain that if staff had the time, and there was something available that was worth their time, they’d want to work on their development. Let’s face it if your boss has asked you to do something you generally can’t say no. If there is work to be marked or students to support you can’t just drop it. I’m not sure 300 students would accept having their work returned late because their tutor fancied learning how to use Twitter.

Risk

For some staff trying new things and experimenting is incredibly risky. The evaluative, metric driven processes in HE make staff risk averse. “I better not try that in case it doesn’t work”. We are very reluctant to upset students. Rightly so, there’s nothing more frustrating or damaging to learning than a poor session. We need to make it clear that risk taking is encouraged. That trying new things is an expectation not something to be avoided. We need to stop punishing staff when things don’t quite go as planned.

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