The EIS recently trialled an online professional learning course for the first time, appropriately on the topic of Teacher Health and Wellbeing.
Seven members who had previously participated in wellbeing courses with EIS came together (on screen) to explore what health and wellbeing means for teachers right now.
So, what did we learn about delivering online professional learning?
Working with a small group of people who had experienced the group course format, meant we could identify what works and what doesn’t when delivering online. Who is better than the people who are putting learning into practice to identify what works?
EIS course participants report that the spaces in between scheduled learning are the most important aspects of any professional learning opportunity: the cup of tea on arrival, lunch, and chatting during the breaks.
It is these spaces that provide opportunities to share experiences and ideas about practice. Essentially, personal connections bring learning to life.
The move to online professional learning provision comes in response to Covid-19, which has made the personal connection in workplaces, and life more generally, a thing of the recent past.
Keeping the personal aspect is therefore even more crucial as we move group courses to an online format. Group exercises, time to share and respond, collaborative flip chart, and chat boxes all provide space for lightbulb moments.
The EIS shares the key learning points of courses with participants and members more widely via the PL Blog. An email, rounding up learning and setting out links to resources, ensures the individual learning needs and wants of participants are met, and that learning can continue beyond the course.
We are in each other's homes when participating in online learning. That means we get to meet four legged friends, someone will disappear for a coffee refill, people will disappear from screen as their internet connection is unstable.
Meeting the new learning environment with a bit of humour, acceptance that we can only control our responses to what happens, and willingness to participate, will get us through – and that goes for both participants and learning providers!
Keep an eye on the EIS Website, ebulletins and social media for the latest online professional learning courses from the EIS and partner organisations.
For more online learning opportunities and other support for EIS members during lockdown, see the EIS Working at Home Resource for courses, self-study materials and specialist guidance.