Keynote MQLTWEEK 2014, John Simons and Sherman Young, Image by LTC MQ

How brave are we? Laying down the challenge at #mqltweek

As you’re no doubt aware, Macquarie is undergoing a period of organisational renewal, under the banner of A Framing of Futures. During this process, the University is casting its eyes towards the future, challenging each of us with the question: who do we want to be?

Under the auspices of this lofty inquiry, DVC (Academic ) Professor John Simons and PVC (Learning, Teaching and Diversity) Professor Sherman Young took to the stage to open Learning & Teaching Week 2014, in their much anticipated update on the development of a new Learning & Teaching Plan.

The session opened with a reflection on what future students might bring to their tertiary studies, and what they’ll be hoping to get out of it. Following this, John and Sherman confirmed plans to produce a Learning & Teaching Green Paper, to be released in early 2015.

Why a new plan?

Addressing one of the first questions to come out of this process, Sherman responded to the query: why? Why come up with a new plan, considering the University recently passed through a review cycle that produced the Postgraduate Curriculum Review and the Graduate Capabilities project?

The answer: this process is largely in response to the Research Plan, recently espoused in a Green Paper and on the cusp of producing a White Paper. In line with A Framing of Futures, the University aims to foster “a culture of transformative learning in a research enriched environment.”

How do we make it happen?

According to John, “we should think of teaching as the endpoint of the research process” – teaching is framed as the communication of that research. The key purpose of the new Learning & Teaching Plan is to enshrine that link, and build a strategy in-line with the University’s newly re-articulated goals and values. For students, it’s a matter of viewing learning as their own research activity:

As a second driver of review, Sherman and John presented some sobering statistics concerning student satisfaction with their ongoing support, and areas for improvement in retention and employability.

Work Less, Teach More

In response, Sherman offered an additional view, and threw out a challenge: what makes us think the status quo is best practice? Aware of the constant creep of administrative workloads, he invoked the 2014 Learning & Teaching Week theme: how can we work less and teach more? Given the opportunity to start from a clean slate, what would you do differently? Noting the aphorism ‘it’s madness to do the same thing every time and expect a different result’, he then threw down a challenge:

Audience members questioned the efficacy of strategic plans in light of such high levels of casualisation. One audience member noted, to the response of many heads nodding in agreement, that reflection and iteration were important elements in developing best practice. Should we be aiming for revolutionary ideal with evolutionary process? What was clear is that we are at the start of the process, and consultation will be key to enacting any organizational transformation. John and Sherman have laid down the challenge. It will be up to all of us to shape the response.

Teche more?

One final thing:

Look out for more updates from Sherman (and John?) coming your way on Teche soon.


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