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Professional Learning Development in Challenging Times
  • EdTech

Written by Kathryn Nutbeem, Deputy Head - Teaching and Professional Development at the British International School in Cairo (BISC)

In 1918, the Spanish Flu helped to drive the wide-spread adoption of telephones in North America, a better alternative in the circumstances to face-to-face dialogue.

Starting in 2020, Covid-19 has, unsurprisingly, had a similarly dramatic effect by accelerating a number of trends towards digitalisation that were already in train, such as the move away from linear broadcasting to streaming; an increase in digital, rather than bricks-and-mortar, retail; and a greater reliance on online platforms for communication and content-sharing.

As teachers, we have all been aware that good online learning platforms have been the key tool in ensuring consistency of learning for students and we found tools and approaches that will serve us even once the pandemic is over. Much the same can be said of professional learning development (PLD) for staff. In these difficult times, being able to give staff access to quality training that is flexible and can be accessed at times convenient for them has been crucial.

It was against this backdrop that The British International School, Cairo (BISC) and Karen Ardley Associates worked together to roll out the KAA Online learning platform.

KAA Online offers three key ways for schools to ensure their offer ongoing professional development for all their staff.

The first part

The first part of the KAA Online offer is a wide range of online, interactive self-study modules designed to engage individual members of staff in the professional learning process. There are modules for teachers, teaching assistants, business and admin personnel, middle and senior leaders and governors. Over 40 modules are grouped into 4 main categories:

  • Mentoring and Coaching
  • Leadership
  • Classroom Practice
  • Support Staff

All modules are linked to evidence from research, with videos, downloadable resources, links to other websites and the unique KAA brand of high quality.

The second part

The second key part of the KAA Online offer is for schools to join the KAA Online community through a subscription.

Once a school joins the community, all members of staff can access any of the modules available in the KAA Online store. In addition, and, uniquely, there are Facilitator versions of each modules that enable schools to develop self-sufficiency in their PLD. 

The third part

Thirdly, and finally, the KAA team have become skilled at the whole process of remote, blended and facilitated learning.

At BISC, the plan is to use KAA Online as the major part of the school’s professional learning and development provision releasing modules rather than just signing up staff for the whole lot in one go.

Staff from all over the school are engaged, senior leaders alongside newly-trained teachers and TAs, admin staff alongside experienced teachers

This enables BISC to form communities of people who are completing the courses at the same time and to plan to allow them to apply their learning strategically in the school afterwards. It also means that word-of-mouth has generated excitement and motivated others to sign up.

In the future, BISC will offer new staff the courses from prior years and arrange networks between new staff and old to support one another.

Most of all though, BISC will be using the online resources as part of a blended learning approach to PLD, making good use of the facilitated courses to run in-house training which can be personalised specifically for the staff. At the same time, BISC will professionally develop staff who are interested in delivering courses and improve their communication and facilitation skills.

This is the way forward for BISC: flexible online modules that staff can engage with at times that are best for them combined with school-led facilitated sessions and expert-led sessions from Karen Ardley and her associates.

About KAA Online

As winner of the 2021 Supporting Associate of the Year award, Karen Ardley Associates have been working proudly with COBIS for many years, delivering on site programmes for leadership and classroom practice.

KAA Online is our online learning platform, built using the proven Moodle course management system and available for individual self-study or school based subscription.

You can find out more about us at or by contacting