Professor James Wisdom is an engaging and informed non-Powerpointed speaker. With or without the distractions provided by a microphone failure!

His observations on CPD for established staff, mentoring and promotion in particular were both provocative and thoughtful. His sense of funding attaching to retention and so on surrounding the day-job was a bit OverThere but he raised problems that we need to address over here also; time and reason to research and the context in which we work and what’s needed to support staff in the context in which they are in. He says UK institutions need to look at this: we do too .

The ‘change effect’ was what he turned to next.  And the problematics of sharing good practice. His comments on the necessary flexibility of the context and the holding out of reservations concerning investment in change with an overly institution / strategic focus was particularly striking.  Even if an e-learning model that is sufficiently flexible may offer a way through or around this.

Wisdom challenges the blithe assumption that CPD can and should be attached to institutional initiatives. His example of the range of strategies linking to strategic interest in an unnamed University Teaching and Learning Policy was a case in point. He offers the SEDA framework as a much more potentially productive route to better CPD. This he sees as being simply about making sense.

Moving on then to the UK Higher Education Academy’s Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and  Supporting Learning in Higher Education, Wisdom sees the principal challenge of getting CPD right as being about how to animate Standard Descriptor 3 of this code.  Not the sort of stuff that gets people out of bed in the morning as he acknowledges but the reality of ‘where we are’.The intriguing closing conundrum he left us with concerns the secret life of those fascinated and devoted in secret – out of earshot of the HoD! – to the area of development and the quest for pedagogical improvement. People like Sally Fincher might provide reference points for us here in Ireland. As well as Gosling and O’Connor (working out of  University of Gloustershire) and in particular Rhona Sharpe’s work on professional learning and development.  This he précised (neatly) as cyclical, iterative and likely to involve planning for action; insightful in relation to individuals need to construct their own meaning; professional knowledge being constructed with a CoP and unlikely to be an individual activity; and the need to make the tacit explicit in how we approach efficient learning.

Interesting and insightful. The SEDA connection was strongly evident. And useful to note.