Conferencing and workshops: a blend for staff development

Pettit, John (2005). Conferencing and workshops: a blend for staff development. Education, Communication and Information, 5(3) pp. 251–263.



Several hundred staff participated in a programme set up to support the Open University's mainstreaming of online teaching. One particular concern was how the programme would avoid being seen as a top–down imposition in areas of controversial change such as the move towards e-tutoring. To meet this, the programme set out to facilitate university-wide sharing of experience and practices across diverse groups of academic and learning-support staff while remaining sensitive to local needs in different parts of the organization. As part of this process, about 80 staff participated in online conferencing blended with workshops, in some cases gaining almost their first experience of online discussion. The paper draws on quantitative and qualitative data to illustrate some of the ways in which such discussion can facilitate staff development in areas of profound change.

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