Why do some of our most exciting learning and teaching initiatives fail to gain traction, despite the thorough research, creative design and best efforts of talented people? It could be because we often forget to include the students in the planning process. This blog post by Sherman Young proposes that we acknowledge our students as partners and co-creators of their own learning in order to increase engagement.
To get the ball rolling we recruited four Merit Scholars, each from a very different discipline and background, and sent them on a social investigation to gather thoughts about student engagement at Macquarie. They came back with an enormous bank of ideas, examples, and challenges from students relating to their experience at Macquarie, and the following themes resonated throughout:
Availability. The very best learning experiences these students have had stem from a single teacher being available to their students, maintaining an approachable nature and adopting an accessible style of communication and discourse. The prevailing sentiment was that the availability of these teachers seemed driven by a genuine passion for learning and teaching.
Communication. The students unanimously agreed that the driest of subjects can be brought alive by a good lecturer, and it doesn’t have to involve cutting edge learning technologies or soaring levels of creativity. In fact, the students said that they would trade in all the extra stuff for a teacher with great presentation skills and a penchant for the material.
Connection to the outside world. This presented itself in a few different forms – students value industry connections, tangible job opportunities, and PACE units – but most simply, they value the sense that we’re learning with purpose here at Macquarie.
We will be exploring each of these themes, and others, at a panel discussion during L&T Week and will welcome questions and debate. We invite you to come along and gain some honest, candid insight into the student experience at Macquarie. Registrations are essential – more details are available using the link below.
The rapid pace of change in higher education is creating new challenges and opportunities for teaching and teachers. The 2014 Learning and Teaching Week debate on the Future of University Teaching is a unique opportunity for you to participate in an open discussion about the professional practices of teaching.
For many of us, one of the great opportunities of academic work is the ability to pursue an exciting research agenda, whilst sharing what we learn with our students. The challenging counterpoint to that opportunity is aligning and balancing our research with our teaching responsibilities.
By gum, do we have a treat for you, dear Techeans*! Since you, our readers, are a veritable who’s-who of trendsetters, tastemakers and early adopters, Phil Betts has lined up a sneak peak of the keynotes and main events that will be gracing the program at this #mqltweek!
And, would you believe? You can actually register for them RIGHT NOW! Sign up today, and when the formal announcement is made in This Week you can be all “oh, Nick Mansfield’s panel? Sure. I’ve been signed up for weeks.”
In the wake of last week’s release of the Research Green Paper, just a quick update on progress around the Learning and Teaching Strategy. As some of you are aware, we’ve had a number of small-group brainstorms, discussions with A/Ds, Executive and other stakeholders and two bigger planning sessions for a wider range of staff where some initial thoughts have been discussed and dissected. Thanks to all those colleagues who contributed.
It’s been a very productive process and all the feedback (both positive and negative) is being synthesised into our thinking. We’re continuing discussions over the next month or so by talking to FLTCs and FSQCs – and this will be followed with more consultation and in-depth consideration by a smaller reference group – which will now include our new DVC-A.
There is, of course, a lot to think about. In particular, we need to ensure that the L&T strategy aligns with evolving contexts around Government policy and the University’s priorities – for example, the research framework and the new pathways college. But we are now better placed to be able to ensure that alignment.
The result of all this thinking will be a draft framework which is currently planned for broader dissemination at this year’s Learning and Teaching Week in September, at which time we will also release a timeframe for next steps which will include further consultation, consolidation and final implementation.
As part of the ongoing process, I’m going to start using this blog as a discussion area for some of the emerging ideas – so watch this space…
Few would argue against the aesthetic appeal of Apple’s minimalist design. For many, that design principle carries through to its functionality, where a limited range of inputs allow for a surprisingly complex array of interactions*. There’s an elegance and an effectiveness to offering simple solutions in response to environmental constraints.
Less is more.
Now, minimalism is great for consumer electronics fruit companies and 1950s German industrial design schools, but how well does that principle travel**? Can we apply it to higher education? What might the Dieter Rams-ification of teaching and learning look like?
Enter Learning & Teaching Week 2014, for which the Call for Proposals are due on May 23rd. This year we’ve opted for the statement “Less is More” as our theme. What can we do less of to make our teaching and learning more effective?
‘Effective’ means many things in many contexts – ‘efficient’ may be effective in some circumstances, while in others it relates to ‘engagement’ or ‘understanding’. The aim of L&T Week, as ever, is to draw out and celebrate examples of innovation and best practice across the campus, so the theme is intended as a suggestion (and provocation!) rather than a prescription. We hope it sparks off ideas and gets you thinking about your current practices.
Of course, you’re more than welcome to disagree with the premise – no doubt some would argue that ‘less is more’ is nothing but a trite tautology!
We’ll be bringing you news and information via Teche over the months leading up to Learning and Teaching Week, so be sure to keep reading. And don’t forget, the Call for Proposals is due on May 23rd, so visit mq.edu.au/LTweek for more information!
Until then… less is more!
PS. If you’re looking for inspiration/provocation, check out Dieter Rams’ ‘Ten Principles of Good Design’: http://www.sfmoma.org/about/
*Not applicable to the Apple Magic Mouse, which is an entirely ludicrous, awkward, impractical and uncomfortable testament to the folly of form over function
**Obvs doesn’t apply to overwrought blog posts
Written by Phil Betts @philbetts
Macquarie’s annual celebration of pedagogy and scholarship, Learning and Teaching Week was held from 16-20 September 2013. As presenters are encouraged each year to publish their work as a way of sharing practice and furthering research in this area, an eBook option was offered as a new publishing platform to those who presented papers, symposia, roundtables and workshops. Continue reading Innovation and PACE shine in Learning and Teaching Week 2013 eBook