As you may have seen, we launched something new on Monday (27th Feb), something we are really proud of. Well, actually it was two things, our revised user interface and UnityPD.
Let’s start with the interface, we’ve made it simpler, slicker and more intuitive. Because you deserve it.
It’s one of those things which has taken hundreds of hours of work, and when you log in you’ll just think it “looks nicer”. This will make our development team cry, so please do use words like “transformative” and “astonishing” wherever possible.
Think of the new interface as the plate upon which we serve UnityPD. This is the main event, the real innovation.
Basically for years now we have provided powerful tools to enable teachers to reflect on, analyse and share their practice using video. Over time it's become clear to us that we need to do more if we are to meet the needs of every teacher in every school.
Think of it this way, we provided a way to get an amazing understanding of where practice is:
Of course, if you are looking to develop you don't just need to know where you are, you also need to know where you want to go. There are a million and one books, courses, research journals and conferences out there about great teaching. By and large, they are as accurate as they are ineffective. Well, let me qualify that. They may be effective in helping teachers understand the concepts (if they are well designed) but they rarely lead to classroom change.
There are three main reasons for the distance. Firstly, (with some very notable exceptions *nods to WalkThrus*) most theory (whatever the medium) does little to make itself accessible. It just sails gracefully past without so much as lowering a rescue ladder for those who want to get onboard.
What kind of things are missing? Well:
- Videos illustrating the strategy in action?
- Resources to support deliberate practice?
- Animations showing how key ideas interact?
- The ability to connect with and hear from existing practitioners?
- Accessible, bite-size summaries?
That's the first part of UnityPD. A collection of 6 theory modules which act like they are genuinely keen to have you onboard, are based on research and closely aligned with the ECF, CCF and NPQs. They explore both sides of the debate and look very pretty. Check them out.
More modules will be added in the future as we’re keen to work with other organisations. Do let us know if you’d like to collaborate.
That gap is the way people learn. I don’t mean their learning style, oh no, I'm not going there!
I mean the modality that's best suited to their existing level of domain knowledge, career stage, and time available. The real concrete things which really matter in busy schools. For example, we know that a one size fits all approach to coaching is bad. The level of “directedness” of a coaching cycle (the extent to which the coach facilitates or directs) really needs to marry up with the teacher's existing level of domain expertise. Equally, there’s little sense in offering a coaching “deep dive” to a busy departmental head, when all they could manage is a 1 hour commitment to a reflective activity.
So that’s the second element of UnityPD, 7 learning scaffolds (pathways) which ensure the user touches on all of the EEF evidence-based PD mechanisms irrespective of whether they engage with coaching, reflective or collaborative learning. These Pathways can be taken in conjunction with any of the 6 theory modules, meaning you have (*maths) 42 potential combinations of evidence-based programmes of PD within your school.
Ok, so we are getting there.
Can you see the rather tortured analogy I'm building yet?
Indeed, it's a bridge! UnityPD is about bridging the gap between theory and practice.
But this bridge has got to stand up in the most challenging environments. I feel like it needs some support. As does PD in schools.
There’s three aspects to this:
1. The intrinsic motivation of being able to see your individual progress through a pathway
2. The support provided by leaders of learning with an organisation who are
- Able to see active pathway progress across the organisation and quickly identify who may need additional support.
- Able to access their own development resources centred on a deeper understanding of the key learning modalities and resources focused on leading PD in schools (coming soon)
3. External support provided by your UnityPD consultant. These talented and terrifyingly charismatic individuals are very keen to talk to you. They want to provide additional support with getting up and running with UnityPD, tailor it to your needs and even building new pathways and content modules with you.
So that’s it. That's our newly built bridge and we are enormously proud of it. It will continually be developed further and expanded but it’s ready for you to use and guide you and your team safely to the other side. To summarise, UnityPD offers you deep insight into your own practice, accessible theory rich in models and examples and a choice of evidence-based learning pathways which touch on all the key ingredients of effective professional learning. All the while supported by updates on progress, additional leadership tools and the unwavering support of our PD consultants.
Want to find out more?
Watch the recording of our UnityPD launch here:
Jump directly to specific parts of the video:Building Teacher Expertise - Tim Brighouse
Effective PD - Andy Newell
Panel Discussion with Tim Brighouse, Andy Newell and Prof. Sam Twiselton
IRIS Connect Innovations
Platform Updates - Matt Newell
UnityPD learning modules - Haili Hughes
UnityPD Pathways - Andy Newell
If you’re an IRIS Connect user and have any questions or feedback, please get in touch. If you’re not part of the IRIS Connect community yet but would like to explore UnityPD as a PD solution for your school, click here to book a free consultation.