INTRODUCTION TO TEACHING AND LEARNING ‘INTEL’ – EFFICIENT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT A UNIVERSITY
In order to meet new requirements for accreditation and quality assurance the pro-rector for education initiated in 2015 the development of a ‘one size fits all’ course. The aim of the course was to provide basic professional development for all educators throughout the university. However tempting the idea it is far from trivial to design a course addressing all educators across subject areas, career levels, and teaching duties. Nevertheless, in a joint effort across four educational units the course was developed to be actualised to pilot in November 2016. This abstract presents the learning goals and design principles and the full paper will present the actualised design and the first experiences with running the course.
Providing in-depth professional development of educators throughout a university is a vast task and would ideally require time for both providing pedagogy theory and time for developing practice across all subject areas, career levels, and teaching duties. So, instead of trying to cover all aspects, the main idea behind the course is empower the educators to identify and develop their own practice by themselves by means of the resources provided in the course and elsewhere. This idea, together with a general constructivist and active learning approach, was reflected in the three developed learning goals:
(1) ‘identify elements in own teaching, which can be developed in order to enhance student learning’,
(2) ‘develop an existing or a new element in own teaching, which enhance student learning by applying pedagogical principles and tools’,
(3) ‘argue for the developed teaching element in terms of student learning’. I.e. the course is to be considered an introduction rather than a replacement for already existing and more advanced teacher-training programs.
Prior local experiences with providing professional development online have proven to be potentially both effective, scalable, and low-cost and, thus, it seemed obvious to develop a completely online course. However, in context of AU Principium the budget would be even lower per capita, the cohort would be more heterogeneous, the academic expectations would be high, and the need for a flexible solution would be even higher. Thus scalability, cost-effectiveness and flexibility need to go hand in hand with high quality, being exemplary and easy to administer.
On that basis, the course is built in the University LMS and consists of three elements:
1. An introduction to the course provided by the pro-rector,
2. A mandatory learning path providing general insight into quality in teaching and active learning with three activities along the path
3. A concluding assignment where the participants develop their own teaching practice within one of five themes (lecturing, small class teaching, laboratory teaching, clinical teaching, or supervision) based on a set of learning materials provided in an elective learning path.
The participants are required to participate in all activities and provide formative feedback to two other participants’ concluding assignment in order to pass the course. Choosing this format, the course shows exemplary use of the LMS, provides basic knowledge of quality in teaching, makes the course relevant and scalable across the University and provides a common ground for further professional development.