It was at the (fairly) recent Discovering New Horizons in the Digital Landscape conference in Manchester that my friend and colleague, Anthony Beal, introduced me to 23 Things – a self-directed course aimed at introducing a range of tools that could facilitate personal and professional development for librarians. Which got me thinking – why stop at librarians? There are plenty of tools out there that anyone involved with teaching and learning (whether they’re teachers, learning technologists, librarians or something else) would benefit from, so why not create a self-directed course for a broader audience?
Hence the idea for the 39 Steps – a flexible CPD programme designed for anyone interested in embedding digital technologies into their everyday practice (quickly, and at no cost). The 39 steps outlines a range of tools (39 to be exact!) to facilitate learning that address common pedagogical challenges in education. Such as ideas to encourage learners (and co-workers) to collaborate in group work more effectively, tools to help learners set up frameworks for peer support that will develop their own personal learning networks, help with revision and time management, and more, that all contribute to enriching the overall experience for the learner.
There are some common challenges when offering any kind of CPD to staff, but perhaps the two that I come across the most is one of pitch and one of time. Often when I get asked to deliver CPD within an organisation around an area of e-learning there is no prior contact with the staff, so any kind of formative assessment has to be carried out ad hoc to determine the level of prior knowledge and experience. The other bugbear is time: we are all asked more than ever in our job roles to take on additional responsibilities and staff development, sadly, often gets overlooked.
With these two challenges in mind, the 39 Steps is very much designed to wet the appetite of staff and encourage them to explore the ‘steps’ that are most relevant to them and to skip ones they already know about. Whether you’re a dab hand with educational technology or you’re a newbie, the idea is that there is something for everyone. In terms of time, the contact time I have with staff often tends to be an hour or two at the most, either delivering a workshop at an event or doing a quick session at an organisation’s staff development day. As a result there’s rarely enough time for the staff to get their hands digitally dirty and play with the technology, that’s why the 39 Steps material is available in the cloud (both through Google Drive and Slideshare), so staff can work through the steps at a place, time and pace that suits them.
Have a look through the 39 Steps – how many of them can you say you use regularly and confidently in your workplace?