I really enjoyed Chrissi Nerantzi’s session at #oer15 “Nothing stops us now” on open, collaborative CPD”. Having participated in the #BYOD4L open online course (developed by Chrissi and Sue Beckingham) initially as a participant and earlier this year as a facilitator and institutional partner, I know first hand the power of collaborative development and sharing of practice. It really helps build confidence and an extended sense of community and participation.
The session made me reflect on my most recent CPD experience preparing a portfolio for my HEA application. I haven’t shared much of this experience “openly”, which is quite unusual for me as I do try and share openly most of my professional “goingson”. I want to use this post to explore and share why I think this has happened.
The main reason I haven’t openly shared my developing portfolio is probably down to fear and uncertainty. It has taken quite a while for me to believe that my work was relevant to, and could be mapped to the UKPSF. That may sound a bit odd, and was partly down to my lack of understanding of the framework, and my misconceptions that you had to be a traditional lecturer/academic to apply. With the support of my mentor Sam Ellis, I have been able to contexualise my professional experience and map it to the framework.
My portfolio consists of two case studies and a personal reflection. Each part requires supporting evidence. For me this is where my open practice and sharing really came into its own. My blog is really my portfolio. If anything important/interesting happens I tend to document it there. So for my case studies I had “loads” of digital evidence from blog posts (and comments on them) to papers to presentations that I could find easily and use. Most if not all are openly (with CC licences and everything) available. This body of evidence and personal reflection helped me remember and contextualise my role in certain developments. I can’t begin to explain how helpful that was when starting think about what areas I should base my case studies on. “Thank God I blogged” became a bit of a personal mantra.
One of my case studies is around Learning Analytics and I broke my involvement into 3 categories and had great fun developing a time line for one of my case studies. It may have been a slight distraction from writing . . . but it did clearly show how much “digital” evidence I could quickly draw upon.
Developing and sustaining reflective practice is challenging. I make the time to keep blogging and reflecting and doing that in an open way, it is a habit for me. I think that is why so many people don’t keep blogging. They just get out of the habit.
Blogging is different to the established academic reflective practice of peer reviewed published work. Personally I prefer a less formal approach. I find that it really helps when I have/want to do the “proper” stuff. Importantly I actually enjoy it. I know I’m not the best writer the world, or the most insightful but, dear reader, you seem to like it too so that keeps me going.
Which leads to my second reason for not sharing openly. This may sound even odder, but it’s almost too personal to share. Writing my case studies and reflection wasn’t like writing a blog post. I couldn’t be woolly, half baked, self deprecating. I had to reflect and represent my professionalism, my contributions, my worthiness. That has taken me to a personal open boundary. I am more comfortable with that piece of work only being available to the those who will assess it (and me) and ultimately decided if it is worthy of gaining the professional reward.
I am still scared that I will fail, that I am not worthy of professional recognition. So it’s easier not to talk about it openly. If I fail, well only a handful of people will know. It’s another open paradox. Open professional development can indeed help build confidence but I, and I suspect many others, am still scared of open, professional failure when there is an externally validated award involved.
As I write this I am wondering if I should wait until I hear the outcome of my submission? I think not. Just writing this post has helped me to begin to overcome another personal, open boundary.