Discussions started by William Owen


Hello All,

Thanks for a stimulating beginning to this forum. I found it exciting to hear new ideas, gather new resources, and listen to the nuances surrounding informal learning. It is also great to meet a new colleagues. Thank you.

I have been struggling with how an institution of higher learning can better recognize and appreciate professional development related to teaching. Most of this opportunities are informal, and even more are being offered on-line. So how do we assist in shifting the institutional culture that understands how to evaluate and appreciate (most) research to now include both formal and informal opportunities related to teaching and learning?

Professional development is acknowledged by institutions of higher education as being fundamental to enhancing teaching in the classroom. Thus, institutions have developed diverse methods of recording and acknowledging participants of professional development events. For example, the Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG) at the University of British Columbia developed and promoted the use of Passports of Participation. Participants in professional development activities receive a “stamp” signed by the facilitator that they then put in their passport of participation. As such, their passports serve to record the professional development activities that one is involved in. Since UBC introduced the passport of participation idea in 2005, other institutions have adopted or adapted the passports of participation in order to recognize those who engage in events designed to enhance their teaching. Fundamentally, passports of participation serve to encourage continuous professional development related to improving teaching and learning and recognize those who do so.

We are currently involved in a project to see if we can implement this project on a provincial basis. Here are some of the questions we are discussing: which professional development opportunities would qualify for the program? How do we assign ‘values’ to different types of professional development opportunities (e.g., a one hour vs 3 hour session)? How can we build upon other provincial initiatives (e.g., Learn Together Collaboratory web site)? How do we recognize both participants and facilitators? What type of recognition do we wish to offer (e.g., Letter of Participation provided by an institutional representative or a governmental department, display photos on Learn Together, etc.)?

What models do you know of that serve to both evaluate and recognize informal learning?