Key messages from Professor David Sadler Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students & Education)
Taken from the UTAS CoP Initiative Launch 12th September 2011
Communities of practice are:
• About generating ideas for new directions/policy/thinking in L&T;
• A middle level change strategy;
• A way of thinking about who we are;
• A method for intersecting silos and professional boundaries;
• A way of opening the university to the community;
• About tapping into existing groups with a viable existence to provide them with central funding.
Education for sustainability refers to learning and teaching that enables more sustainable ways of living. The Education for Sustainability Community of Practice (EfSCoP) is comprised of academic and professional staff and students who regard education for sustainability as central to the mission of higher education. The domain of the EfSCoP is whole-of-curriculum innovation and reform. This innovation and reform includes efforts to embed sustainability as a foundational graduate capacity across the curriculum through involvement in formal curriculum renewal and design processes and through the informal leadership demonstrated by community members in their discipline areas and teaching responsibilities. The EfSCoP is creating new pathways within the institution for cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration in education for sustainability through a membership base that encompasses academic staff within all faculties and on all major campuses of the university. The EfSCoP is also building links between the physical operations of the university (e.g. built environment, resource use, organisational practices) and student learning. These links recognise the importance of the hidden curriculum embedded in learning environments and the importance of authentic learning opportunities created by involving students directly in university operations.
A Community of Practice with a specific focus on student engagement will be established within the Faculty of Education. All members of the FoE community staff and students with an interest in student engagement will be invited to join. Enhancing student engagement will lead to improved student learning outcomes. These improved outcomes will be achieved through the generation and sharing of new ideas and practices. A reflective and collegial approach to unit design and development, teaching practices, and the trial of new ways of working together will be explored in the CoP. Trialling a learning conversations approach will also provide insight into ways of working within a CoP and will therefore be a methodology for learning and reflection. Documenting the process and the learning conversations approach will allow for an evaluation that will inform the CoP into the future.
With the move to fully online courses, staff have had to reconsider their approaches to unit design, teaching and learning. The ways we think about students when we do not know what they look like, when we cannot hear their voices or see their body language, needs careful consideration. How do we engage the disembodied online learner, when, as staff, we are equally disembodied? Conversely, how does our on-line teaching inform our on-campus teaching? The establishment of a community of practice will allow for collegial, reflective consideration and sharing of new ways of enhancing student learning through the ways we engage them personally, academically, intellectually, socially and professionally.
The aim of the development of a community of practice for clinically based registered nurses (known as clinical facilitators) within the UTAS nursing community is to strengthen partnerships by disseminating information; sharing of knowledge and ideas and gaining feedback that can be used to provide support and guidance to this off-campus group of educators. The project aims to link informal networks of these clinical facilitators and support peer learning within and between groups of geographically dispersed and isolated practitioners in both the urban and rural settings and with the SNM. A social software based model (Twitter) will be evaluated to assess whether it is useful for enhancing the quality of the learning and teaching by clinical facilitators within their organisational setting; and the learning and teaching experience of SNM students while undertaking work integrated learning placement.
Within a widening participation agenda, the support of students from diverse backgrounds is increasingly important for the University. The domain of the Diverse Student Learning Community of Practice (DSLCoP) is the support of student learning, with a particular focus on the needs of students from culturally and linguistically diverse and non-traditional backgrounds, and the support of faculty staff working with these students. The community extends the work of the previous, grassroots Student Learning Support Network initiated by central student learning support staff. The DSLCoP will begin with members from the central and faculty units involved in the support of student learning, with a long-term view to engaging faculty teaching and administrative staff. The community will reach out to faculty staff to enhance awareness of student learning support opportunities, through workshops and information resources on referral and support, and facilitate collaboration and sharing of practice amongst faculty and central staff interested in the learning of the diverse student population.
Authorised by the Head, Tasmanian Institute of Learning & Teaching
9 April, 2013