TOWARDS A MODEL OF FACULTY DEVELOPMENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE. THE DIDE-L PROGRAM’S CASE
University of Florence (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Over the last years the issue of faculty professional development gained a renewed attention both at institutional and theoretical level. For example, in Fostering Quality Teaching in Higher Education: Policies and Practices (Hénard & Roseveare, 2012), OECD recommended public institutions to support the quality of academic teaching through specific policies and initiatives. Similarly, the High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education (2013) underlined that each institution should develop adeguate strategies to enhance teaching and learning, and pointed that all academic staff should attend pedagogical programs with final certification by 2020. More recently, the European ministries contributing to the Yerevan Communiqué (EHEA, 2015) indicated as a priority for the European Higher Education Area to improve the quality of learning and teaching promoting pedagogical innovation, including the use of digital technologies. On one side, this reitered call for enhancing the quality of teaching through specific training on pedagogies and technologies reflects a more general trend affecting the scope of scholarship in the digital era. Indeed, the adoption of ICT is progressively influencing the four dimensions of scholarship (discovery, integration, application and teaching) as they were defined by Boyer in his seminal work in the ‘90s (Boyer, 1990) and as they have been reconceptualized in the framework of digital sholarship (Weller, 2011; Manca & Ranieri, 2017). On the other side, e-learning has now reached a broad penetration in academic contexts. In Europe, almost all universities have undertaken e-learning initiatives: as Gaebel and colleagues (2014) found, 91% of academic institutions are providing courses in blended mode, while 82% are offering courses entirely online. However, the challenges of pedagogical and technological innovation at all levels of education, particularly at university level, is well known in the international literature (Moser, 2007; Johnson et al. 2016). Very often innovative interventions rest on the shoulders of individuals or small groups working in institutional niches (Ghislandi & Raffaghelli, 2012). In this context, promoting faculty development is as an important, though not sufficient, step to move beyond pioneers’ pilot initiatives.
Looking at the literature on faculty development, it might be surprising that it is characterized by poor theoretical reflection on conceptual assumptions, myriads of models developed by each single institution, unclear measures to evaluate the impact of training programs (Meyer, 2014). In a sentence, the field of faculty development surely requires futher investigation. This paper focuses on Did-El, a program of faculty development which is being implemented at the University of Florence through a collaboration between the Department of Education and Psychology and the Center of Computer Services. It presents and discusses the conceptual framework which underpins the training model, and its main components. Grounded on experiential learning and reflective practices (Kukulska-Hulme, 2012), the program is based on case studies, multimedia resources for self-learning, sharing in professional learning communities and coaching. The papers concludes with some considerations on the pecularities of the model which makes it suitable for the academic context its future developments.
Keywords: Digital Scholarship, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Faculty Development, Higher education.