Reflecting on a PDP process

I have just developed a PDP (personal development plan) for the current module of my Masters course, and what has been interesting is how this process has developed along the way.

My first issue was using the OU template as a starting point. This was developed for face-to-face teachers/lecturers and lists 27 skills which are relevant and can be used for benchmarking your own competence. It was suggested that we delete those that were not relevant to us, adapt them where necessary and add any new ones needed. Ideally, we would end up with between ten and twenty competences. I went through the list and found most of them relevant, perhaps with a little tweaking. Maybe that’s not surprising, as I do 40-50 days a year of face-to-face teaching. But I had to add some others, because I also design courses, teach online, do project work… My list was getting longer. Incidentally, I was really surprised at the absence of two competences, which I had to add – ability to work with maximum efficiency and planning to hit deadlines. These are critical in my job, and surely they are important for all educators?

Eventually, to help organise my list, I decided my job could be broken down into five distinct elements:

a)    Design courses and materials plus tutor support, online and offline

b)    Teach face-to-face

c)    Teach online (forum management)

d)    Lead online development

e)    Promote innovation (e.g. social media, gaming)

I assigned each competence to specific roles, which helped. Most of the competencies were relevant to more than one role, and some to all of them. But it was still a long list. I tried to cut them down but gave up at 24. Is my job particularly complicated?

I then tried to determine my skill level in comparison to “other teachers”. This was really hard. Truly, I don’t know how good many of my colleagues are at many of these skills. This is where we really needed a competency framework of some sort. But I gave it a bash. I don’t think anything surprising came out of it, but it is always useful to think these things through.

We then used this work to produce a set of development objectives for the module. I have regularly done this exercise in a corporate setting and actually had my latest appraisal/development planning meeting a few days ago, so it was fresh in my mind. But obviously, this exercise was a lot less constrained than my work one.

So eventually I was able to produce a list of objectives for the module. These range from the very general (filling in the gaps in my knowledge of educational theory and practice and relevant technology) to the very specific (maintain a blog throughout, set up an eportfolio). It will be useful to have these as a reference point as we move forward.

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