Developing a community of learning
In the build up to launching the Avenue Professional Development Programme a few people have asked me what the thinking behind the initiative is. Perhaps it would be helpful if I put it in the context of how my thinking has developed.
For several years I taught students week in week out and the advantage of that was that I was able to link ideas together from one session to the next, respond to any concerns or confusions and help people grow as they took their learning forward over time. The disadvantage was that I was influencing the learning of only a very small proportion of the practitioners who are engaged in professional practice and not influencing managers at all. So, when I became an independent writer, educator and adviser, the situation was reversed. That is, I had the advantage of working with a wide range of practitioners on training courses up and down and was also able to work with managers, but the disadvantage was that I lost that continuity, that ability to be a linking thread and guide for a group of learners. What I gained on the swings I lost on the roundabouts.
However, in developing multimedia learning resources and e-learning facilities for Avenue Media Solutions (www.avenuemediasolutions.com), I came to realise that online learning could be a way to get both sets of advantages, to have the swings and the roundabouts. So, the idea for the Avenue Professional Development Programme (APDP) was born. In the past 12 months I have been working towards developing an online facility that will allow me to work with a wide group of learners over a period of time. The idea is that people who sign up to the programme will have access to a range of learning facilities, will be able to interact online with a wide range of other learners and have the benefit of my overall stewardship of the programme. So, participants will get the benefits of being part of an online learning community tutored by a very experienced educator and highly respected author at a price per annum of less than many companies charge for attending just a one-day course. And I will get the benefits of being able to work with a wide community of learners at more than a day or two at a time – a win-win situation all round.
Members of the APDP will: be able to join in discussions with other learners through online forums; have access to a growing library of multimedia learning resources (articles, videos, podcasts, webinars and so on) based largely but not exclusively on my own work; develop an e-portfolio to record and consolidate their learning (ideal for professional registration purposes); make use of a reflective journal; and be part of groups with shared interests and/or aspirations. The major benefit of being part of the APDP is that members will have a focal point for their learning. They can bring issues from their own practice, combine them with issues arising from the learning resources regularly being added to the programme, discuss them with others, reflect on them in their journal and record (and, importantly, consolidate) their learning in their e-portfolio. This will provide a continuity of learning that can be difficult to achieve without some form of structured programme like this.
The technological development for the programme is nearing completion, so we should be able to launch soon, once we have enough members signed up to form a genuine community we will be underway. Full details of the programme are available at: http://tinyurl.com/neilthompsonapdp.