Staff development: reciprocal link between feedback and encouragement

After helping organise a staff development day about 21st C Learning (more about that later), I find myself musing on the link between feedback and encouragement as reciprocal actions.

This was a day with mixed ability and experience staff, all encouraged to take the next step up on their education technology skills ladder. They did this in groups, led by a colleague who is more experienced.

Usually what happens with these ‘traditional-style’ staff development sessions is that a survey is sent the next week to staff (the ‘happy sheets‘). Did you find this useful? That’s interesting but not as interesting as asking again 6 weeks later, are you still using your newly acquired skills? If not, why not? If yes, how else can we help you?

Now a little red cynical me, popped up on my shoulder, and said: “of course they will not still be using it in 6 weeks”. There’s rivalling priorities (research, clinical placements, marking) and suddenly what was claimed today to be a timesaver (Moodle quizzes, Flip videos), seems like just too much work.

But then I thought, wait a minute, that is my responsibility too. How can I encourage and support them over the next 6 weeks, so they will continue to use these skills?

My preference would be to run staff development through networked learning. Inducting staff into an education technology network of like-minded colleagues, would make on-going encouragement and support easy. But this is not a part of our institution (yet – give me time ;-)).

So in traditional staff development situations (one day, 2 days, a 2-hour workshop), how do I deal with my side of the bargain? If participants are expected to continue using a newly acquired skill and give me feedback on my workshop/my work, then my side is to provide active encouragement & support (more than just being on the end of a phone or email). But being realistic about my available time too, as only e-learning advisor in an institution of 350 staff.

Options to keep my side of the bargain within current institution structures:

  • Use the newly set up Faculty community page to provide links to examples and instruction videos
  • Send weekly emails to the group with interesting education technology and 21st C learning news
  • Send 3 surveys for feedback, 1 next week, 1 in 6 weeks, 1 at end of the year. These need to be informative & snappy, but not happy sheets
  • Encourage the staff with more education technology experience to share examples of their work on the Faculty community page
  • Run virtual debates via the Faculty community page. Some valid questions and worries were posed today about use of social media in education. This conversation can be continued
  • Ask faculty managers to take active role in encouraging continued ed tech use (through above mentioned methods).

Any other suggestions?

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2 thoughts on “Staff development: reciprocal link between feedback and encouragement

  1. Amanda says:

    Hello there,

    I promised a response days ago so instead of delaying until I have more time I thought I’d scribe a few thoughts. Your question is a fantastic one – it’s exactly part of the role I play (we call it End to End learning strategies).

    Here are a couple of thoughts:

    – Book some person to person (voice to voice) follow-up calls. As you mentioned you likely won’t be able to do this with everyone, but perhaps focus on a few of your early adopters or those who are well respected. A little extra TLC with them could help the wave of change.

    – Reach out to anyone else who may have an opportunity to encourage the new skills (I’m not sure who this would be in your world… in my case I’m normally dealing with managers so I always try and equip our HR generalists with info so they can encourage/coach whenever they interact with the managers).

    I saw this Tweet recently and thought ‘ah yes – that’s good!’.
    http://twitter.com/jonhusband/status/15894211785

    I’d love to hear what worked well and what new ideas you tried. Keep us posted!

    @AmandaFenton

  2. Amanda says:

    Forgot one other thing… it’s more out of your hands, but can make a difference (nothing new though – you likely do this already!).

    I ask participants to do two things at the end of a workshop:

    1. Form a triad and set a day and time that the three of them will connect to chat about what they learned/challenges in implementing/further questions they have.

    2. Make a commitment to ‘teach-back’ something they learned from the workshop to another colleague who wasn’t there. (Depending on the workshop other actions might be appropriate… like assisting at a future workshop etc).

    Cheers,

    @AmandaFenton

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