These questions are so important. I spoke with some lecturers last week who think that accreditation has gone totally overboard in the UK, and I can see where this concern is coming from - I think sometimes assessment and evaluation are so top heavy in the UK that we spend extra time making sure that we look good for the quality control process instead of genuinely enhancing our teaching.
On the other hand, several of my students in our LTHE program (who are lecturers) have said emphatically, "I wish I knew this last year when I started teaching".
It's such an interesting question - how do we have some sort of standards for enhancing the quality of teaching, but not have an over-controling regulatory framework?
Yes, I echo concerns around accreditation processes!. I am currently involved in supporting a 50-member faculty to get "ready" for accreditation of their graduate program in public health (MPH) as well as undergraduate degree. Although we have all said the process is an opportunity to ask larger questions about the programs, quality of student learning, assessments that support learning and effectiveness of teaching the broader discussion is very difficult to launch. Some have expressed "it's simply about ticking the boxes".
To move beyond "surveillance" of faculty to a "health-promoting" model (to use the language of public health) I have been encouraging a dialogic approach to exploring strengths and experiences in teaching as a starting point.....this approach is not getting much traction. As in your experience, individual faculty come to me and we have very frank conversations one-on-one of aspects of their teaching (from design, to assessment to actual delivery and concern for student well-being) that are concerns and areas where they wish to improve. In other words, I am putting on the splints and band-aides but, I have difficulty "aggregating" the individals into a system of mutual support including leader support, peer support and a culture whereby they can collaborate and address some of the core principles/"standards" without threat.
What benefits do national systems have that are not possible with regional or institutional systems?
The weight of authority
How much of a benefit is portability of a credential?
Ahh! Since some of our junior faculty see us as a stepping stone to bigger and better careers, they might like this concept.
Is the quality of teacher training better under a national framework compared to that in separate institutions?
In medicine, we already have an outside body that accredits whether or not we continue as a medical school and faculty still ignore its requirements for improving teaching because of "academic freedom".
As I mentioned in the live presentation, Canada is huge. Smaller institutes are easy to ignore but can also be hot beds of both rebellion and overlooked creativity.
I describe moving university faculty as Titanic in scope, moving a national body would be like moving continents. I think changes in teaching technology are radically going to change the nature of learning in the future and we need a quicker response to change not a slower one. So I have huge questions about feasibility and reliability.
As the economy shrinks, education has traditionally benefited, so we may yet see Sony and others turn their eye to this.
What In It For Me? (WIIFM) is one question that every stakeholder needs to get an answer to for anything to change.
Right now, I'm thinking that I would like to look at Developing a National Framework of Teaching Excellence. Perhaps this is a continuous quality improvement (CQI) point of view. Standards are really around benchmarking and then working for positive change while keeping good practice.
I definitely do not want to see this as another faculty surveillance exercise. We need good representatives of all stakeholders to be on board before the ship sails out to sea.
If this is too business languagey, feel free to reframe it with the theories and metaphors of your choice.
I think we need to start at the provincial level. The easiest way to do that is with the Teaching and Learning Centres that most campuses (university and college) have. Most of them are members of STLHE, so the contact info is available. The Gwenna Moss Centre at my university has been working on a similar project for several years. Numerous universities have teaching courses for grad students.
Businessy language or not, I think continuous improvement leading to increases in quality are where we are at.
It has crossed my mind that a nationally developed collection of "lesson plans" and notes and resources for topics we address in teaching and learning centres would be awesome. They would need to be open to all of us (not copyright restricted) and changes to the materials to suit the specific institutional situations would need to be allowed. I think this approach would help encourge consistency and high standards and also save huge amounts of time as each educational developer is not having to start at the beginning and build material.
As we develop new lesson plans for the same topics or new topics, we could add them to the lesson plan bank.
Is that too perscriptive?
I ask myself - what problem is this initiative trying to solve? Answering that question then moves me to understanding what a solution (or solutions) might look like. Then I consider who might implement such a solution(s). If faculty development officers (which is short hand for the many titles for such positions) are the ones, then I believe treading carefully is called for.
There's a lot of "teaching in higher education sucks" rhetoric "out there" without the evidence to back it up. Who are the "good teachers" - whether one subscribes to language of effective or language of excellent - and what is good about them? Can a list of desirable outcomes flow from such an investigation?
I sense the development of a mechanistic approach to a practice that is very un-mechanistic (unless one counts mapping out a course outline someone else can read and understand). Someone who facilitates learning would have a much different sense of standards than someone who is teacher-centred and transmits knowledge much of the time.
Yes, indeed, I (we?) have all been the victims of poor teaching. Some of this poor teaching was at the hands of highly credentialled teachers (I'm thinking of the elementary and secondary systems as well as certified educators in higher and adult education) who had the stamp of authority from their educational institutions all over them and everything they did. They were still poor teachers. I also have been lucky enough to be in learning environments with gifted and effective educators, who were good in their own ways.
As a faculty member and someone who cares deeply about teaching, the last thing I want is someone telling me what consistent national standards are unless I've had a full opportunity to be a voice in such a development. The language of business seeps into the language of learning, and I find that troubling. Sometimes - to wildly mix metaphors here - the person up on deck looking for the life boats is the one who ran us into the ice berg in the first place ... and the one "resisting change" is not hunkered down having a nap but more likely - like Scotty in Star Trek - trying to keep the engines running.
The last time I was at the UK conference of SCUTREA, the adult educators association in the UK, I heard quite a bit that was interesting about the UK initiatives to have a credential of higher education, and a fair amount of critique. I'd appreciate hearing some of those voices. Is this conversation open to some of those folk who are affected by the implementation of such a credential Vivian is talking about?
The prescriptive-ness that Alice, Rosalie and Barb all discuss is central to how we go about support the HE teachers. The notion of lesson plans in HE would be frowned upon here in the UK I am sure. However, the Higher Education Academy has gathered a huge number of teaching resource in a wide variety of subjects, and these can be used by anyone to support their teaching - see the Subject Cetres at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ourwork/networks/subjectcentres
I'll also attach a one-page document which describes the learning outcomes of the first required course on our LTHE program. You can see that the learning outcomes are very general, yet for our second course (sorry, I can't seem to attach 2 documents to the same posting) we have a separate course for lecturers in the creative disciplines such as architecture, dance and fine arts - we found that the standard set of learning outcomes was too narrow for the creative domains.
I'm attaching a one-page document which describes the learning outcomes for our second course, the Developing Professional Practice: Supporting Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. For creative disciplines, we have a separate, but similar course, with slightly differenct learning outcomes, Develoing Professional Practice in the Arts.
I'd be interested in knowing how applicable (or not) these attached learning outcomes would be in a Canadian or American context. See also the sheet I attached to my last posting.
(Edited by Sylvia Currie - original submission Monday, 9 March 2009, 08:56 PM. Fixed link)
Thanks for this project module assessment rubric. I like the expectations in the (left) column however, I think that the "pass-fail" approach reinforces a paradigm that may not "fit" for all.
What happens if someone "fails"?
I agree with you on your titanic metaphor. I believe the folks who wish for change are the outliers and are on the deck looking for the lifeboats....the others are hunkering down in their cabins for a long nap (or so it seems).
In BC there is a growth of "neighbourhood" colleges and universities, this increasing re-distribution of students poses pressure on the universities. People take courses closer to home - it cuts costs in transportation, residence requirements and saves time which is a precious commodity for any student! These smaller colleges are nimble and more able to respond at the program - level so get the dollars from increasing student enrolment are moving elsewhere.
What is remarkable is the apparent lack of critical analysis of this game, the consequences and implications for higher ed. I wonder if research-intensive universities will begin to move away from undergraduate education and thus the need/requirement to improve teaching somehow shifts?
rough waters ahead...
Now thats an interesting idea, universities as post graduate research bastions. I know a lot of faculty who consider it beneath them to teach undergrads; they would welcome that.
An advantage we have is that "scholarly activity"--research in a very broad context, is recognized in the collective agreement. Therefore, scholarly work in any of Ernest Boyer's four scholarships will theoretically be recognized equally in promotion and tenure--this has not been put to the test yet.
Re research intensive universities moving away, I think that will depend on contexts in different countries. It is not going to happen, at least in the short term in Hong Kong, as 80% of funding for undergraduate education comes from the Government. The Government is trying to move more of that % to institutions but it is not an easy thing to do in such a small place (I'm at a research intensive institution btw).
Picking up on your questions regarding "moving a national body would be like moving continents" - yes indeed! In Canada we are very "provincial" in terms of education and health for instance. There is no incentive for a national approach. There are great macro regional debates not to mention micro-regional issues.
My hope is that we will see growing inspiration emerge out of necessity perhaps that will encourage and provide incentives to those in higher education who want to do a better job at all levels of the system. The penal system is not working well, surveillance and mandating improvements will be challenged in a system where there is little or no accountability.
I'd like to see a different language around all of this... a culture of citizenship perhaps where higher education institutions are brought into a larger role with society where they are actively engaged rather than isolated in solving the worlds ills and contributing their knowledge resources.
food for thoughtl...
I'm not sure how a framework for teaching excellence at a national level would not by its nature begin to create a very squishy box into which we would proceed to try to fit a whole bunch of round pegs. A regional or institutional system, it seems to me, would reflect the needs/desires/expectations of the local inhabitants. What means good teaching when I taught in Old Crow is quite different, perhaps, from what means good teaching at a mainstream university. And don't get me started about the perceived differences between colleges and universities and the definition of teaching excellence.
So - a portable credential for higher education teaching competence might be an oxymoron. Obviously, I don't completely subscribe to that view, since I'm participating in this seminar.
But I thought I'd just put it out on the table, as Alice says, to counter the "businessy" language that seems to inform this sort of initiative.
It's interesting the difference between "Teaching Expectations" and "Teaching Excellence" that Alice and Wendy refer to when questioning how the national and institutional quality of teaching are considered. If we assume that some kind of framework is benefitial, perhaps the community of institutional peers would put pressure on so that their fellow institutions are motivated to adopt the framework - this would be the marketting end of the "Teaching Excellence" model.
In Canada, the top down approach may not be so effective as in the UK, simply because of the difference in the governance of the higher education sector. In Canada, education is a provincial responsibility. Although, Scotland has a completely separate education system from England and Wales, and they seem to have complied with the HEA framework.
I support the notion that fostering a framework of reflective practise / practice is a critical element. If a standard is to have traction, it must have buy in by the practitioners. A tool that has been useful to me over the years is a Self-Evaluation instrument developed by Bob Cornesky, long ago, that asks a lot of searching questions. I offer this for your personal consideration.
Thanks very much for this self-assessment. I truly believe that this is one way to go in order to support capacity development among ourselves and with faculty/instructors. I am going to share this with colleagues in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Stay tuned...
I like the way you have raised the issue of teaching in different contexts by your examples of Old Crow and mainstream universities.
I too am not sure that "credentialling" is the answer although I personally support the idea of improving the experience of teaching in HE. Offering a credential to those who take the time to deliberately improve is fine however, the question of mandating this is a big one. Once a person obtains the credential which presumably indicates that they are good to go.....then how will they maintain their "competence" as demonstrated by the acquisition of the credential? Asking people to have a teaching credential is foreign in higher ed. and yet I think that teaching standards may well be a good idea as long as the scope of teaching practice is broadly defined thus allowing for different contexts. I think it is unwise to assume that obtaining a credential will necessarily yield a "good teacher" although providing people with the opportunity to improve the quality of their teaching and expand their knowledge of educational research and practice as it applies within their discipline is essential.
I wonder what faculty think about a national framework or set of teaching standards? What do they have to say about credentialling teaching practice in HE?
Different contexts is the biggest issue I encounter. How do you define teaching standards broadly enough? Medicine is a very concrete profession that requires exceptional abilities to remember patterns, terminology, procedures and the minutiae of doses. Instructors here need tools that help students focus attention, improve memory, access information quickly and create patterns. The Arts and Humanities are much more abstract and analytical. Instructors there need higher order thinking strategies. Engineers need calculation and problem solving strategies. And So On...
90% of my teacher development work involves getting faculty to define their teaching goals/objectives, helping them identify the best strategies for achieving the goal, helping them find an assessment strategy that validly assesses whether students achieve the goal and evaluating their decisions. That process works well in career-oriented disciplines where outcomes are clearly defined but would be severely criticized in many Arts and Education faculties where constructivist approaches might dominate.
Yes, I agree that the context is everything. My consulting practice with faculty is very similar to what you describe, I spend most of my time trying to assist them in defining outcomes, assessment activities that will map to the outcomes and learning and teaching activities that will corresond.
A broad scope of teaching practice would enable applying a general competency such as "engaging students to develop their critical thinking skills" to multiple and very different contexts thus allowing for disciplinary requirements while at the same time working towards attaining this general competency in teaching.
Even in medicine where the "teaching" role shifts from classroom to bedside I can imagine that this competency can be applied to respect the context. Similarly, in arts and humanities a general competency such as this would work. Thus the scope of the teaching practice is broad in the sense that a general competency can be applied differently respecting different practice situations.
I have gone back to the framework for this workshop and the areas of activity and knowledge listed on page 4 they look very good at least as a starting place. I can see how this set of competencies can shape support and guidance with faculty as well as be a foundation for formal learning which is what Vivian is up to. Maybe we will dig into this next week.
What do you think?
Strangely when I've told my UK colleagues that there is no teaching accreditation for higher education in Canada, they are shocked. Yet, these programs have only been mandatory in UK HE institutions for the past 10 or 15 years. The culture has changed radically and in a fairly short time. I'm not sure how to change attitudes, but perhaps we should be looking at techniques for creating social change - where to start, how to do it? Thoughts?
I agree. The crux of the matter is attitude. It has been "okay", normal, usual etc. to teach in post secondary when you are a subject matter expert, and have no background in teaching. While some people gravitate to optional teaching programs to develop their teaching skills, the vast majority do not. Since in many universities, research is valued over teaching, and there is little pressure or support to learning to teach more effectively, there is little incentive to attend.
I worked at SAIT (a technical college) for several years, and a two-week course in teaching skills was mandatory for new hires. There was little push back. Yet I think one of the differences between universities and colleges is often the valuing of teaching. I wonder what would happen if a teaching qualification of some sort were similarly mandated in universities. Initially I think a lot of push back in the univseristy sector.
Institutional supports, such as offloads to have the time to take the courses, increases in salary resulting from successful completion of courses, and increased recognition of teaching would be helpful. Still these ideas have financial implications for institutions which makes them difficult to implement., especially in the current situation.
As well, the issue goes beyond the buy-in of instructors. Does senior administration believe the teaching programs are needed? In our case, I am not convinced they see a universal need as opposed to a situational need.
So the next question is how to gain senior administration's full support.
Has anyone experiences/strategies they have found helpful?
We have found the strongest motivation to attend medical teaching sessions come from external licensing bodies who require XX continuous professional development credits. Our sessions are seen as an easy way to access these credits but it costs my department ten's of thousand dollars and massive amounts of time to have our courses accepted by the licensing body.
I am interested to hear that the framework and credentialling process has changed things in the UK over the years. What actually has changed?
As for implementing change...taking a framework like this and implementing in health sciences education would be challenging. For instance, not all education takes place in the higher ed institution. There is a well-established model to use "clinical educators" who have a joint appointment between higher ed and the clinical setting. These Doctors and Nurses have a practicing license and they are hired because they are practitioners (not necessarily teachers). There are even fewer "standards" in the clinical domain because the teaching practice in clinical settings is very different and although the elements of the framework might apply, the process of teaching is deeply tied to the situation within which the practice is taking place. In fact, in some cases, the teacher is a mentor or coach and the students teach themselves or "apprentice" with an expert clinician. Also, in some situations there are "clinical educational" standards in BC and these people look after their own clinical teaching.
Taking this HE teaching framework across settings (higher education to public sector organizations like hospitals) would be very challenging and require joint commitments and policy changes at a very high level. These organizations must talk with each other. There are some mechanisms to do this but it is tough work. The business of preparing medical people is not entirely in the hands of the ministry of education (higher ed), the ministry of health and professional associations are also implicated (in clinical settings) and getting all of these characters together to support a common framework would be daunting. One idea could be to get some champions at multiple levels in the system and in multiple settings to come together and talk about a common framework such as this and how it might apply.
Personally, I like the idea of standards for supporting teaching excellence but I am not convinved that credentialing, mandatory continuing education, monitoring, surveillance and even reporting if you screw up is the approach we need in HE. In some sectors this is essential as the professional work is tied to macro policies such as the Canada Health Act/provincial health legislation and essentially the safety of the public. I personally believe that the change process must be very different for higher ed. We need to deal with the culture of the institutional settings, leadership and their overarching mandate along with supporting academic practice that involves teaching, research and service excellence.
what do others see about change in their contexts?
If you have looked at the UDLEs, then you will probably have noticed that they are quite broad and generic. So, if a programme being reviewed chooses, they can easily account for the UDLEs in their curriculum without authenticity.
Where I have found the difference is that they have prompted increasing numbers of universities and individual programmes to develop/critical reflect on their own outcomes, and to begin to more rigorously explore where those outcomes are being intentionally fostered in the curriculum.
I can certainly see a big value having the expectations prompt reflection on, and development of programme-level outcomes--I think we have a long way to go in BC to get to this point in every institution.
A significant portion of college instructors are part-timers with day jobs in their fields of expertise, not career academics. Credentialing as a condition of employment as a higher ed instructor may not be practical or feasible.
However, there are plenty of good reasons to encourage instructors to learn more about teaching and learning. Making this training available and desirable is a challenge.
Does traditional teacher training address the learning needs of vocational teachers?
I started teaching after participating in a radical early 70's certificate program that focused on problem based learning, my undergraduate degree 10 years later was from a Vocational Teaching Program, those classes focused on best practices for teaching skills. I then went on to a Master's program that had a pretty traditional lecture format that focussed on knowing XX theories. So I've experienced three very different visions of formal teaching training. Interesting how medicine incorporates all three, no wonder I ended up here.
From personal experience, I too have studied teaching and learning in a variety of environments, everything from Scouts Canada leader training, St. John Ambulance first aid instructor training, SAIT instructor training, bachelor degree studies in higher education and a Masters' degree in higher education. The majority of the practical, skill-based parts came from the first three sources; the work in high education was helpful, broadening and interesting, and yet much of the content for the courses I teach in the TLC comes from the skills-based programs. I believe we need to consider what our learners need to know to be more successful in their classrooms and in helping their students to succeed, and then how to provide it in a way that fits their constraints. I encourage people who want that deeper understanding to enrole in education programs that are geared to that exploration.
Off my soap box!
Sure, everyone is busy. Making everyone attend two-day training sessions is very expensive. Some of the learning is best acquired in an informal community of practice setting. Online classes, seminars, conferences can be "attended" anytime, anywhere. Mentors and instructional development resource people can provide targeted hands-on direction. Acquiring the knowledge and skills needs to be flexible and take advantage of all these learning opportunities.
It would be great if credentials could be awarded on the basis of a "challenge-for-credit." "Theory and Practice" includes some discussion of the Athabasca model. The real trick will be how to determine if the criteria for the credential have been met. Worth considering.
The critical detail, as you say, is aligning this prior learning with elements in the expectations framework and determining equivalence. We do a lot of this kind of alignment in assessing student prior learning in the context of course learning outcomes. It can be done.
I think you are hitting on something that I have seen for awhile in my efforts to consult with faculty in the FHS and TechOne programs at SFU - yes, faculty are enmeshed in a system that impacts their performance and thus we are also part of that system. It is feasible to discuss base competencies and to provide opportunities "in-house" that fit the general culture of higher ed but then it has to happen within the disciplinary context. I also believe that peers who are ready and able to be identified as mentors and coaches and in fact in some cases potentially "reviewers" of performance in teaching. This notion of peer review is familiar to academics - they are reviewed on their writing performance so teaching performance is another aspect of their work.
Another dimension that is if well done "hidden" is the design piece of teaching. How to judge a good course design is difficult. What constitutes a "good course" in one context will vary from another. I spend most of my time consulting and having conversations with faculty about their approach to learning design since many of the performance issues in teaching that they name actually originate in design. So, there could be peer reviews for course design or as we are trying to do in FHS and TechOne establish a community of practice to assist in supporting design. Why not?
Also, if we were to work with the professional associations that many people either belong to or attend conferences - we might consider how to engage these folks in supporting additional adjunct learning opportunities and give people credit for this. Clearly, this is the "Continuing ed" portion of this work but it another approach.
Also, in the case of health sciences, the accreditation bodies may offer educational and teaching support. Here is a link to a public health accreditation body in the USA where teaching public health is a big concern. It is part of the accreditation process.
Demonstrating Excellence in Practice-Based Teaching in Public Health found at the Association of Schools of Public Health
I agree with Barb and Rosalie that competencies need to be discussed within the disciplinary context; any courses in teaching and learning must be relevant to the discipline of the teacher. In the Plymouth LTHE all participants are assigned to an IPD (Initial Professional Developer) who is an experienced lecturer in the same discipline, who helps them apply the more generic teaching and learning theory to their own practice. Whilst [gosh that was exciting - I've never used that word before :-)] the participants get the more broad teaching and learning theory from the eduational developers, they also meet together in disciplinary groups (and one-on-one) with their IPD to discuss pedagogy, methods and teahcing and learning issues for their own discipline.
We also get together in inter-disciplinary groups, which we call Learning Sets, where about 8 lecturers share ideas, plans, course designs, teaching concerns, and drafted LTHE assignments. Participants have indicated that the Learning Sets are one of the most useful part of the program. This is one of the strategies that is consisent with the development of a learning community (though the implementation is not as effective as it could be me thinks). Nonetheless, this concurs with the need for context-specific support as well as disciplinary-specific support.
Peer review is also incorpoarted into our LTHE as a requirement for a minimum of 3 teaching observations during the first year of lecturing - one by an LTHE tutor, one by the participant's mentor (an individual selected by the participant for support throughout their first year), and one by a peer fo their choosing. This review consists of 3 parts - first the participant writes up the design for the session and describes the area(s) that they would like feedback on, then the observer observes, meets with the participant and writes up the feedback, and finally, the particpant then comments on the feedback. I'll attach it, for your information. I actually just had a teaching observation a couple of weeks ago and though I was a little nervous, I expect that I am a better teacher for having done it.
I'm wondering if these types of learning activities would work for HE teachers in Canada and elsewhere, or if they could be adapted?
This sounds very interesting and I believe the activities you describe would be well worth exploring in Canada/BC. I love the idea of "Learning Sets". What are some of the "questions" or "practice problems" that emerge in these discussions?
I also like the peer review process that you have described. We do this a bit in our teaching certificate at SFU (course design workshop and assessment workshop) but I can see it would be very useful if used more strategically.
will now go to your LTHE site for more info.
We have a teacher preparation program required of all our new hires that runs the entire first year of their employment with us. The interesting thing about our structure is that many established faculty join us (coincidentally in numbers about equal to the new hires, usually), because this has the potential to impact their placement on the pay grid, ultimately. That's the initial motivation, though the program has gained quite a bit of traction on campus as a worthwhile, satisfying endeavour.
Well, as a result of the mix of participants, we invariably get wonderful discussions going between the new and established faculty around all of the topics we cover in those 12 sessions. For me, it's part of the fun of facilitating these sessions, and both groups acknowledge how rich the exchange is. I'm certain it's one of the features that keeps people signing up for these sessions (from among the established faculty), and causes the participants to hang around, even after we're 'done', late on a Friday afternoon, to continue their exchanges!
I also offer a peer review of teaching - entirely voluntary, and the agenda is set by the prof being observed.
The one piece we need to formalize a bit more at our little community college - and I'm grateful for the references I've seen to this already - is our mentoring program. In our case, too, folks from like disciplines connect for the new faculty member's first year, and the mentor's time becomes part of the workload formula. It's just VERY informal at the moment. But it's next on my hit list. :)
This program sounds very exciting and certainly would appeal to me. I think that you teaching institution is on the right track and the students will benefit.
How much time do you think is spent on it monthly?
Do you have any formal evaluations from participants yet?
Thanks Jo Ann
I'm not sure where you're located... If not in N. America, you may not be familiar with a program put out by League for Innovation (www.league.org) called "LENs", or Learning Exchange Networks. It's predominantly U.S. based, but one of our local community colleges (Humber, in Toronto) was a member of the consortium that developed the materials. My predecessor researched options and determined this would be one of the best available, and when I took over the position on campus, I just kept the status quo, as it had garnered such a strong response.
The content is meant to be delivered in six modules, but I only cover three per semester and I take two afternoons to cover each; hence the 12 sessions in total. Our sessions are three hours. It's a terrific set of materials, if you ask me, and I have yet to come across anything that decidedly surpasses the quality. It feels very much like an 'add water and stir' kind of formula. I freshen it up every year by changing some of the activities, and we bring in our in-house experts on a variety of topics - anything from rubrics to technology in the classroom, etc - but generally the content is rock solid and easy to use. I mean, REALLY easy.
We haven't gone so far as to collect data that goes beyond your usual feedback form, but I'd say that the LENs sessions (as they've become known) are probably considered the hallmark of what comes out of my office, though I do a lot more.... And they are widely well regarded.
As a community college, our faculty are members of a union, and in some respects that actually makes life easier. Their participation in the sessions is a condition of employment when they're hired on. People who have been with us since before the establishment of this program still opt in for reasons I described earlier. I think they stay pretty willingly. :)
I wasn't aware of the League for Innovation (www.league.org) "LENs" Learning Exchange Networks modules. We have been developing and offering something similar without knowing this existed. Arrgg!
This is especially frustrating when our district is very active in the League. We, Foothill-DeAnza College District - are the "host" for the League for Innovation conference next week! I'm going as a volunteer, so I'll be on the look-out for more information.
BTW: Is anyone else going to the League for Innovation conference (www.league.org/i2009/) in Reno Nevada next week? I'll be there Sunday Mar 15 - Wed Mar 18. I'd love to meet up with fellow SCoPE-ers.
I too like the ideas of "learning sets". I think that one of the areas I would like see developed is quality of "chunks" of learning that relate how to teach --both online and traditionally. These chunks could be learning sets that are given recognition at the national and international level as having mastered these areas (chunk by chunk) and this kind of learning could be promoted as life long learning. Models, skills, readings, application, and connecting with peers of learners would help support the reason to do these "learning set modules".
Some universities could give graduate students and faculty credits for the completion of these learning sets. This may be the road to meeting the diverse teaching needs of medical faculty, and the diverse needs for specific subject domains. I would like to see people developing these learning set modules on wikieducator as well as on other sites that are willing to share them and promote teaching quality. To some extent this may be already happening, but I think the intention would be to accelerate the development of these learning set modules and promote their quality and availability. Jo Ann
I will try to summarize the discussion so far to allow those who are just arriving can get an idea of what's been going on, and to help every reflect on some of the ideas that have been shared. First, I have to admit that I'm surprised that some of the discussion is about whether a mandatory credentialing framework would be appropriate - I expected that we could be talking more about how we might go about making it happen. That's just my perspective....
Last week we started off discussing the benefits of a national framework for credentialing and Deirdre pointed out the benefit of having the weight of authority in a national scheme, while Nick and others underscored the "titanic nature of academe". Barb offered several examples of the possible challenges of such a framework and the implications for higher education. Deirdre, Nick and Barb brought up the idea of starting at the provincial level because this is the level that universities are organized, and getting agreement nationally would be [10 times more :-)] difficult.
Wendy and others noted that the whole idea of needing a required credential is scary and that there needs to be a large amount of flexibility in any scheme, while several people emphasized the need to make the framework (or at least the implementation) discipline-specific in its structure and learning outcomes to accommodate the many different teaching situations - bedside, in a boat, one-on-one tutorials, classroom lectures, project work, and workplace-based learning.
Finally, there was mcuh discussion about the idea that there needs to be wide support for credentialing to become acceptable, including support from senior administrators, and Rosalie and I talked about the need to change attitudes and culture. Barb added that, champions would be required at multiple levels in the system and in multiple settings to come together and talk about a common framework. While Wendy asked, "who is the 'we'" when we are planning this framework - excellent question.
Moving on to how we might structure a teacher-training framework (Topic 2), Alice and Roselie suggested a framework of reflective practice, and a skills-based approach. Also Valerie and Irene described other credentialing models in colleges in the US and in Ontario that we can think consider, and I have provided some information about the system in the UK, plus Jo Ann shared some details as well for a possible structure.
I'm looking forward to hearing more ideas, and could I suggest that we move into the Topic 2 discussion, even though we haven't fully finished the first topic....