Professional Development and Communities of Practice

Recently, I participated in the Advanced Professional Development Program for International Academic Staff (APDP) currently happening on campus. With this program, the Learning and Teaching Centre (the program’s host and developer) has reached beyond campus walls, inviting academics from China to observe and explore the workings of the University through attending workshops and presentations (many developed and delivered by LTC staff) and visiting lectures and tutorials on campus.

 

This program affords the opportunity not only for our visitors from China to expand and develop their own academic practice, but also for Macquarie University to engage in an educational dialogue with foreign scholars.

This exchange is not a new one at Macquarie. With a significant international presence, the campus is infused with cross-cultural learning opportunities. However, harnessing and fully utilising those opportunities is sometimes another matter. It is in that spirit of curiosity, collaboration, and cooperation (in this case, cross-cultural) that the Learning and Teaching Centre significantly contributes to the continued growth and educational innovation of this institution. It is through international programs – like APDP – and more “local” ones – such as the iLearn peer review process – that we can begin to find and participate in our communities of practice.

These communities exist everywhere and are an incredible boon to professional practice. They encourage growth and development and help individuals to find roots in a professional identity. Independent of an individual’s experience, the community of practice is a chance both to learn from peers and to contribute to the learning of those peers. Fully realized, these communities become havens for pedagogical exploration, deeper investigations of content knowledge, and honing of practice. As such, they are integral not only to individual professional development but also to connectivity among peers and across institutions.

Teaching and learning are not always individual activities. Whether reaching cross-culturally for inspiration and comparison, or participating within the Faculty at hand, communities of practice provide rich and dynamic resources for professional practice.

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