The Big Learning Project

After the trial of the Mini Learning Project in the summer term of last academic year, we’re finally about to begin the Big Learning Project: an approach to learning conceived after extensive reading into what makes CPD effective.

The idea of the project is that it can be adapted to whatever role you have; whether that’s manager, LSA, admin assistant, apprentice, lecturer or technician. Leading on staff development across the organisation, and not just for teaching & learning staff, means that I’m constantly focusing on what might work for everyone and not just the minority as we have more business support staff and student support staff than we do lecturers.

In a climate of continuous improvement @sheffcol, it’s necessary for us to seek development that is tailored to our needs, encourages engagement with evidence and research but also consists of a journey that involves a bit of fun.

With just a few days left for staff to register for the first cohort of the Big learning Project, here are 6 reasons why they might want to:

1- A choice– This project is CPD with a difference- although the 6 phase structure exists, what you explore within that and how you decide to do that is entirely up to you.

2- An evidence-base– This project will encourage you to become more evidence and research-informed.

3- A reflective nudge– Throughout the project, you’ll receive nudges (in a variety of forms) to reflect on your practice in new ways and with fresh eyes.

4- An impact evaluation– The aim of the project is to make a change that will hopefully lead to a positive impact and we’ll have a rare chance to measure this properly.

5- An experiment– Although we hope that our challenge solutions will have a positive outcome, they won’t always but you’ll be free to try something out and see!

6- A different crowd– The project attracts staff from all kinds of roles: in curriculum, support and leadership alike. It offers a unique opportunity to meet people beyond the ‘usual suspects’.

Phase 1 (Learning Lens) of the project begins on Monday for cohort 1 and here is their introduction. I’m all for choice so they were sent two videos (a long version and a short version):

Long version:

Inspired by Mr Patel‘s #teacher5aday #photo initiative this month, I have created a far less laborious ‘Learning Lens’ phase (than the Mini Project last term), where the emphasis will be on noticing and capturing in creative ways. Project participants will post their contributions each day on this Padlet wall (technology will be our friend on this project; spanning all College campuses and several months):


This Piktochart gives an outline of the remainder of the project:


Here’s to CPD that holds more meaning and relevance for its staff but also challenges them to alter their practice in line with evidence and research. Now I just have to hope enough people sign-up for it to be worthwhile!

‘An essential element of successful Continuous Professional Development and Learning is overt relevance of content to its participants and their day-to-day experiences and aspirations for’ students, staff and customers. From ‘Developing Great Teaching

‘We aim to take staff away from a tick-box approach with development opportunities. Professionals should drive their own CPD and develop their practice so that it really makes a difference to their’ students, staff and customers. From ‘Brilliant Teaching and Training in FE and Skills’

‘We must prioritise CPD even though it may never be the most urgent thing on the list.’ From Shaping the Future of CPD. Time to Focus on the Important, not the Urgent.

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