Last week I took part in my first virtual reading group run by the HEA. It was much like the journal clubs I had taken part in face to face within my discipline but this just happened to be online. The paper we read and discussed was:
Kirkwood, A. and Price, L. (2013) Missing: evidence of scholarly approach to teaching and learning in higher education, Teaching in Higher Education, 18(3), 327-337.
I enjoyed reading the paper in preparation for the webinar. For me it raised a number of important points. The first relates to staff development sessions I provide on technology. Staff have been very keen for me to deliver sessions on how to use technology in a practical sense and so this is what I have given them. The paper prompted me to reflect on this. It made me question do I just provide technical training on how to use the technology or do I include the scholarly background to using the technology, do I include the pedagogical principles that should underpin the decision on how or if the technology is appropriate to what the teacher is trying to achieve. Luckily I think the answer is yes, but it is something I will give greater consideration to as I plan my sessions in future.
The second point that jumped out a me related to undertaking research. Having completed both a PhD and 5 years as a post-doc doing arthritis research I sort of assumed I took a scholarly approach to research. This paper made me question this. When I have done educational research how did it build on previous research? How much did I use previous research in planning the methodology? Or did I just create my hypotheses out of what I was interested in and wanted to see? Did I just design my methodology based on what was available to me at the time without giving further considerations to improving the experimental design? I am not sure if these questions have binary answers. I feel I have used research to plan and design my educational research but have also used hunches and what was easily available to me at the time. Having reflected on this paper through the reading group I will certainly take a different approach to future research.
Sally Bradley from the HEA did a great job at leading discussions around the paper. One of the areas that particularly interested me was how if you are teaching centred in your general approach to teaching you are likely to be teaching centred in your approach to technology (PowerPoint, webcasts) whereas if you take a more student centred approach to your general practice you are more likely to use a different range of more interactive technology, such as students creating content, producing reflective portfolios and so on. Again I don’t think you have to fall solely within one of these categories. For example, although I use webcasts which are quite teacher focused broadcasting knowledge these are often backed up with students having to respond via a forum to questions or relating to their thoughts on the webcast.
Overall, I found the virtual reading group useful and the paper has provided me with a number of elements to consider as I move forward in my practice. I am looking forward to the next reading group on 22nd March. For more detail see the HEA website.