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Seminar series wrap-up February 26th, 2014, AM101

This session included feedback from the ASCILITE 2013 conference and the survey of staff who have participated in the seminar series. It then moved on to a discussion about future developments and opportunities.


Jonny's presentation (pending)
Tash spoke from notes, no presentation to share
Anne's presentation
Rhian's presentation


This final seminar reflected on the things we'd done well, and areas for improvement, and explored what we can build on for next year. It was agreed that we would continue to meet, and continue to be somewhat 'grassroots' in structure, developing 'research clusters' around particular topics of interest. These research clusters would each take responsibility for one or two seminars, would be an opportunity to build a community of practice and inquiry, and would have the opportunity to develop ideas into a research project.

If you have an idea for a research cluster that you would like to lead or be involved with, please email a short title and 1-line description. I will create a new space on the wiki so that all staff can have an opportunity to get involved with these projects.

It was also agreed that a small group would consider a longer-term strategy for support and nurturing this community, it's strategic direction and position with regard to other University structures, and mechanisms to raise the profile of the work of everyone involved with this group, and interested in developing and improving learning and teaching at Victoria University.

Summary of discussion by a participant:

It is clear that Rhian’s initiative has generated a great deal of enthusiasm and energy. It has enjoyed a lot of grass-roots support and brought together people from ITS, the Library, CAD, the Education Faculty and a string of lecturers who simply want to be better teachers. We heard recently that the P G Cert HELT has had to postpone its introductory 501 course this year apparently for lack of support. This is very sad as the P G Cert HELT is a major outreach vehicle for CAD, and an important way in which it can fulfil its mission to improve teaching and learning at VUW. While there are many Associate Deans and senior academics trying to promote high quality learning and teaching in VUW, I am sure they would welcome the grassroots support that Rhian’s initiative has generated.

It seems therefore that we need to come up with some proposals on how we can build on the enthusiasm that exists in Rhian’s group to meet the clear needs that are behind it. As Sydney Shep observed, the students are the ones whose interests we have at heart and who will benefit from what we do. Quality teaching and learning must be the university’s priority as that is where the lion’s share of its funding comes from – student fees. Focussing on research funding is important, but without students there can be no university. Their presence depends on good teaching. All those who attended Rhian’s seminars are trying to improve their teaching performance. Why is that momentum not manifesting itself in the P G Cert HELT enrolments? How can we spread the enthusiasm and the opportunities, and what can we suggest to the academic executives that will help them achieve their goals for teaching and learning as well?''

Next steps

The next incarnation of the seminar series will be kicked off by a two-part workshop led by Dr Rob Phillips from Curtin University. Rob will help us to explore current theory and philosophies in educational research, as well as provide a framework and opportunity for us to develop own 'research clusters'.

Workshops: Thursday 13th March afternoon (1 – 5pm), AM101
Friday 14th March morning (9 – 1pm), AM103'

It was also decided that the group will in future have a listserv for sharing notices and activities, and will identify a better time for meeting that will allow greater participation from interested staff.