ePortfolios: Professional Development
Any role will involve some sort of professional development, whether it is as simple as discussing an issue with a colleague, attending a webinar or completing a course. ePortfolios can provide an excellent means of capturing these professional development activities and reflecting on the skills and information gained. Having records of your continuous professional development (CPD) can be very useful when applying for new roles. CPD records allow you to refresh your memory on what activities you have been involved in and even share them with your potential employers through linking your ePortfolio in your CV or job application.
Types of Professional Development
The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (2016) have created a typology of professional development activities. This can be a useful starting point when considering what you would like to capture. The types of professional development activities are:
- Collaborative Non-accredited (informal): Learning from these activities comes from their collaborative nature
- Examples include conversations with colleagues, peer networking, peer observations, online blogs/discussion forums
- Unstructured Non-accredited (non-formal): These activities are independently led by the individual. Engagement is driven by the individual’s needs/interests. Individuals source the material themselves
- Examples include reading articles, following social media, self-study, watching video tutorials, keeping a reflective teaching journal/portfolio, preparing an article for publication
- Structured Non-accredited (non-formal): Organised activities (by an institution, network or disciplinary membership body). They are typically facilitated and have identified learning objectives
- Examples include workshops, seminars, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), conferences, summer schools, structured collaborative projects
- Accredited (formal): Accredited programmes of study (ECTS or similar credits)
- Examples include Professional Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Masters, PhD, EdD in: Teaching and Learning, eLearning, Leadership in Education; Education Policy
Categorising Professional Development
When capturing CPD you should have some means of organising it. This will help identify what skills you are developing and plan out future activities. This can also be useful when applying for new jobs, allowing you to easily recognise activities that are relevant to the role for discussion in your application and interview.
You can create your own means of organising your CPD but using frameworks can provide a useful starting point. Certain fields have frameworks or models that identify and categorise relevant skills. The National Forum's (2016) Professional Development Framework incorporates five domains. This provides a helpful means of categorising the CPD of those who work in education:
- Personal Development: The ‘Self’ in Teaching and Learning
- Professional Identity, Values and Development in Teaching and Learning
- Professional Communication and Dialogue in Teaching and Learning
- Professional Knowledge and Skills in Teaching and Learning
- Personal and Professional Digital Capacity in Teaching and Learning
The PAS Civil Service Competency Models provide an alternate means of categorising skills and activities for those who are working or looking to work in the public sector. You might even decide to use more than one model or framework such as one for teaching, like the National Forums, and one relevant to the field you teach in.
There are a variety of ways to categorise your CPD on an ePortfolio. You could have each category as its own page or section, or if you are using a platform with blogging functionality (such as Wordpress or Weebly) you could add CPD as blog posts and categorise them using tags and categories.
Reflecting on Professional Development
When adding a professional development activity to your ePortfolio, you should take this time to reflect upon it and focus on what you have learned. When recording the activity be sure to include the following information:
- Background: The general information on the activity. Where did it happen? Who ran the activity?
- Reflection: The process of self-assessing and considerations based on experiences. What did you learn? How can you develop and grow?
- Output: What new skills or information did you learn from this activity?
When reflecting on CPD, try to include the following information:
Did I know this already? If yes, where did I learn it? Is my understanding of this deeper now?
Is this something I can take forward into my role (or is it something a colleague could use?)
Does this relate to:
A paper or article I have read
A conference or seminar I have attended
Something a colleague or teacher has told me
- An experience I have had
- Is this something I want to learn more about?