“MyCPD log seems to be aware of what has gone before and created a user-friendly tool that fits neatly into the autonomous developer’s toolkit.”
(From English Teaching professional & Modern English Teacher / Pavilion Publishing)
Shaun Wilden is Academic Head of training and development for the International House World Organisation and is also a freelance teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer. He is known for his love of technology and language teaching and his book Mobile Learning was published in 2017 by OUP. He is a trustee of IATEFL and on the committee of IATEFL Learning technologies special interest group. Shaun has an in-depth knowledge of teacher needs in portfolios having worked on a number of portfolio projects in his IH role.
In Modern English Teacher, Volume 26, Issue 3, I co-wrote about how technology was helping teachers become autonomous in their professional development (https://www.modernenglishteacher.com/autonomous-professional-development-begins-at-home). Technology affords teachers the chance to connect, find articles, join in online sessions, and even take courses. In the article, we put forward how such a choice allows a teacher to choose their own development rote and therefore could be done from the comfort of one’s home. However, one potential downside of being autonomous is ‘proving’ to someone such as an employer what you have done in terms of development. It’s fine if something is certified but if it isn’t, then what do you do? As if to answer that question, Modern English Teacher and English Teaching professional magazines have recently launched MyCPD, a free e-portfolio for teachers. So putting on my autonomous development hat, I went off to explore.
Portfolios in language teaching are not a new idea. A teaching portfolio is a collection of documents and other items that provides information about different aspects of a teacher's work used to either show progress towards a teaching goal or as a showcase ‘of a teacher’s skills and repertoire (Richards).
In fact, the same way a teacher can be autonomous in their CPD they could autonomously keep a portfolio either as a digital document or, for example, as a blog. However, teachers often don’t feel digitally literate enough to do this nor do they feel they can approach e-portfolios without some training (Xerri and Campbell, 2016). As such any attempt to provide a framework for a portfolio must take these factors in to account.
Happily, it seems that the portfolio space offered to subscribers of MET and ETp does just that. Offered as part of your subscription you’ll find access to ‘MyCPD log’ has been added to the menu of things you can access once logged in. Clicking on ‘MyCPD log’ immediately takes you to your portfolio. Once there it’s impossible to miss the three options in front of you. Being easily distracted by things on a page, I for one, like the fact I simply can’t fail to see what to do next.
Let’s say I want to record a piece of CPD, clicking on ‘new entry’ opens an easy to follow set of questions to guide my entry. By answering each question, you build up the entry. Aside from simplicity, one of the nice touches in the questions is that they don’t just record the facts, they encourage reflection with questions such as ‘What did I learn from this?”, ‘How do I intend to apply this learning in practice?’, and ‘Having completed this learning and applied it in practice what difference has it made?’
One of the other little touches I like about the design is that you can allocate an amount of time to each thing you are adding. Your portfolio then adds up this time to show your total learning time. While this is of course very subjective, it is a handy feature for those who have to do a certain amount of CPD to fulfil factors such as a contractual obligation.
Be it a work or a showcase portfolio, it is not enough simply to write what you did. To add worth, it needs proof. Again, something taken care of very easily within ‘MyCPD log’. A ‘click here to add’ button allows you to upload supporting files and images, or alternatively you can simply add a web address to the entry. When a teacher is being autonomous they can add links to the online reading they have done, upload their lesson plans, link to courses they have taken part in, and screen shots to show they were at a webinar. Once you’ve added everything you simply press save and an entry is created. One tip, remember to tick the add to CPD export log’ button, it will be useful later. Should you need to make changes, a swift press of the edit button allows you to update or even delete the entry.
I was curious to know how much I could upload, for example could I keep a record of my lesson plans in the log if I so wanted? Storage space can often be an issue with e-portfolios. I contacted the techie people behind the scenes and was reassured that the portfolio could expand ‘as required’. While we’re on the topic of storage, another often cited concern by teachers about digital portfolios is that of security and overall ownership. After all, as is case with any e-portfolio, you are uploading things to someone else’s site. It was pleasing to find out that this had been thought of so any deletion you make completely destroys the entry and the cloud storage you are accessing fully complies with data privacy laws.
As your entries build up, your front page shows you a quick list of what you’ve done. However, where MyCPD log really shines is in the ease of being able to ‘export’ your portfolio; an essential factor in showing employers, current and potential, what a committed teacher you are. Remember the tip to tick the box? Well if you now click on export, a word document downloads to your device containing all the entries you had ticked. It’s not just the entries, the evidence is added as well. The document you have created allows you to add further information such as a personal statement or a supporting summary. What you download is customisable, you can search your entries and decide by ticking and unticking what you want to include. In a very short time you have complied a document fit for any appraisal or interview.
One of the key factors for any teacher in professional development is ensuring that the teacher is doing something they want to do. The same goes for portfolio keeping. ELT is littered with failed attempts at making teachers keep portfolios. MyCPD log seems to be aware of what has gone before and created a user-friendly tool that fits neatly into the autonomous developer’s toolkit. Next time you log into your English Teaching professional or Modern English Teacher account make sure you take a look.
Constantinides, M. and Wilden, S. Autonomous Professional Development begins at home? MET Volume 26, Issue 3
Richards, Jack Teaching portfolios retrieved from https://www.professorjackrichards.com/
Xerri, D. and Campbell, C. 2016 ‘e-portfolios in teacher development the better option?’ ELT Journal 70/4 Oxford University Press