27 November 2011

As 2011 comes to a close

Well, here I am at the end of November, and I really don't know where the second half of this year went.  Still, the year has gone well. Back on the home farm (in the university that buys most of my time), we've made some useful progress, tidying up our curriculum documentation and spreading ideas of clear learning outcomes and alignment with assessment. Some of my academic colleagues have been lucky enough to work on their lecturing skills in the lecturing as performance courses run by the wonderful Amanda Burrell of Captivus. It looks as if she will be working with a couple of new groups next year, which is fabulous news. I had some success in introducing blended and flexible ways of teaching to the academic community in my hometown in a range of different ways, sometimes by pretending I'm going to run a training session on Moodle and surreptitiously sneaking in ideas of learning design and task sequency, and sometimes by focussing on the bright-shiny things that come labelled "Technology".

This three-pronged approach to the support of university teachers in my part of the University has prompted me to think about the current divides that exist, at least operationally, in most Australian universities: the divides between those who teach face-to-face and those who teach online, between the academic developers (often employed as academics) and the educational designers / developers (often employed as general staff), between those who attend the ASCILITE conference and those who attend the HERDSA conference ... and between - well, fill in the gap with your own example here.

This divide, it seems to me, is particularly obvious - and damaging to progress - in the Australian research-intensive universities. I haven't yet been able to think of a way to break down those barriers, but perhaps tomorrow, when the world has evolved, someone will find a way.

Most of the university teachers I encounter are so flat out working on their research that they barely get time to think about their teaching. If they do find time to think about their teaching, they don't know if they should be interested or good at it; if they are good at it, they don't know if they should be proud of the fact; if they are proud of their expertise, they don't know whether they should tell anyone or keep quiet about it for fear they'll be perceived as dilettante researchers.

That's a great shame ... and I suspect would come as a considerable shock to most parents of undergraduate students.

In the meantime, in the interests of getting on, I've prepared my draft operational plan for 2012, which is looking good.

I'm off to the ASCILITE conference in Hobart next week, so should have some new and exciting ideas to report from there - at least one or two, anyway.

I've started to build a Moodle site with some very practical ideas for unviersity teachers, but that hasn't progressed very far, so I have little to report on that. That should be available quite soon, but not just yet.  Access will be available on request, as I will need to create the user accounts and send interested parties a password. There's something very empowering about being Queen of my own Moodle nation, with the power to issue passports / passwords. If you want one, just ask.

I have a half-written paper on university teachers and professional judgement ... that will have to be finished next year now.

There are a few other things in the oven, too. More of those later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting to hear a perspective from a research intensive institution. There are similarities at other less esteemed institutions. Would be interested in hearing if anyone has any ideas about how this could be addressed.