The Centre for Learning and Teaching has provided a wide range of academic, research and technology-enhanced learning services for almost ten years, and 2019 looks like being one of our most transformational years yet.
All those involved in the academic work of the University will perceive the shift of focus back to the quality of teaching and the student experience, now that we can turn our gaze away from PBRF for the next while. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Leadership Cluster continues to explore what we mean by ‘exceptional student experiences’, and CfLAT is critically placed to inform and implement much of this work.
As a challenge to a teacher-centred view, I would suggest that quality teaching is not actually the ultimate objective of our work. The critical outcome is the quality of student learning – how do we make a significant difference in the capability of our graduates to be valued, respectful, productive members of our wider community? The critical component is a focus on student activity, student interactions and relationships, student engagement. While teaching staff are clearly key facilitators of this learning, quality teaching is not the desired endpoint.
In my thinking about quality learning, I am frequently reminded of the work of Professor Diana Laurillard and her Conversational Framework of learning. Prof Laurillard’s premise is that learning is a change in understanding of content and concepts, and this change develops from (often internal) dialogue, whereby a student reflects on and challenges their current conceptual framework, and moves that framework in some way. Providing activities and creating opportunities for that dialogue are the bits of teaching that creates effective learning.
I am aware that my three young grandchildren will most likely live into the 22nd Century – can we imagine the society, the workplaces, the technologies, the leisure activities that they will be part of through this time? Our role is to develop young people to be resilient, to be adaptable, to be accepting of change and difference, and to focus on their place in that society. We are in a time of very rapid change – socially, technologically and economically. As educators we have chosen to take a role to make a difference in our students’ lives – the wide range of skills and experiences within CfLAT can play a significant part in this role.
I invite you to subscribe to this series of blog posts from members of the CfLAT team on a regular basis. I trust there will be ideas and challenges here that will inspire you and your students.
– Mark Northover