CMALT Accelerator Workshop: My Reflections…by Dr Jin Tan

“This compact and hands-on workshop has helped me to reflect, fast progress and become confident in my writing. I would recommend the workshop to anyone who is preparing for their CMALT portfolios. Many thanks to Maren and Debbie. With your advice and support, I was able to submit my portfolio for assessment in January 2021”.

I’m a Systems Support/Developer Analyst at Cardiff University. I received my CMALT in 2017, and as required, in 2020 I should undertake a review of my practice over the past 3 years. I always take CMALT as a part of my CPD because the reflection prompts me to revisit my experiences, re-examine the outcome and impact of my practice, and critically ponder my approaches/methods. With the new Senior CMALT accreditation launched in 2019, I was thinking to take up the challenge as further self-development. Without doubt, the CMALT Accelerator Workshop offered a timely opportunity for supporting me to complete my portfolio quicker. 

I appreciate that my institution and the ALT supported me to attend the workshop on 3rd December 2020. In return, I would like to share my impressions and takeaways from the workshop as follows.

Firstly, the workshop was super engaging, organised, and friendly. Although it’s online, we had plenty of opportunities to interact, ask questions and get to know peers. For example, I felt the guided pre-workshop self-introduction shortened my distance with other attendees and gave me a clue of who I would meet. Interestingly and unexpectedly, I met a former colleague who now works in another institution, but we never met in person before. In the workshop, various activities covered the most important factors in regard to writing the portfolio. It focused on helping us to prepare and understand how to demonstrate our practice. It was a tight schedule but with short breaks, I felt my time was well occupied. 

Second, I am not new to CMALT and I am a peer CMALT assessor. I had certain perceptions of CMALT. The activities of discussing good portfolio examples and writing feedback to portfolio examples from an assessor’s perspective have reminded me of some useful strategies and tips for writing my portfolio (e.g., a clear navigation structure and using diagrams). It made me critically think about what kind of feedback I would like to receive from peer assessors: general or detailed, judgmental or critical, implicit or specific? It also kept me updated with current standards for CMALT pathways and helped me develop a new perception. Indeed, I visited/read some shared portfolios via the ALT website when I wrote my portfolio. Through reading peers’ portfolios, I learned different ways of demonstrating reflective practice and got helpful ideas when I was stuck on presenting some areas.

Third, the four core CMALT principles were the key but I didn’t indicate them enough in my writing. Maren’s talk reminded me to check it and rethink my evidence. After the workshop, I reviewed my practice examples, re-selected evidence and re-structured them. I began to consider my demonstration in a more reasoning way and could link evidence in different areas together because with the Senior CMALT, the four principles must be addressed explicitly in the Advanced area.

Last but not least, I had some individual questions in mind before attending the workshop. We had a 75 minutes focus-on-writing activity, named “shut up and write” in the afternoon. It provided us a quiet time to complete a part of the portfolio. However, I think I didn’t write a lot during the time. Instead, I read the guidelines carefully, as from the morning activities, I had new ideas and realised some problems in my preparation. I added notes into different areas of my portfolio to improve. I also took the opportunity to ask questions in a separate breakout group. I appreciated that Maren and Debbie had designed the session in such a flexible way and gave me supportive suggestions.  

This compact and hands-on workshop has helped me to reflect, fast progress and become confident in my writing. I would recommend the workshop to anyone who is preparing for their CMALT portfolios. Many thanks to Maren and Debbie. With your advice and support, I was able to submit my portfolio for assessment in January 2021.

The next CMALT Accelerator Workshop takes place on 30 March 2021. To find our more and register your place, visit https://go.alt.ac.uk/2NI0b5J

Dr Jin Tan, System Support/Developer Analyst – Learning Technologist, Cardiff University

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

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