nternational Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning was held in Altlanta, Georgia USA. The conference is focussed on “staff, and students who care about teaching and learning as serious intellectual work”.

The title for this year’s ISSOTL was SOTL across borders. I took my LEGO project to discuss crossing the border between staff and students in the review and design of modules. My abstract can be found here. A well received presentation to an enthusiastic audience. I found the participants at ISSOTL committed to SOTL as a way of sharing and developing both the practice of scholarship of teaching and learning and AND the delivery best practice in teaching and learning. I found myself at home with very friendly open staff who wanted to both listen and to share.

ISSOTL website

Different Teacher Development Programs

Most universities have some form of teacher development program but I was impressed with the way in which UCI University of California, Irvine present the value and focus on active learning with their “Active Learning Institute”. This Institute is one part of their Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation, DTEI. Their website is available at http://dtei.uci.edu/faculty-development/

On their website they state that they offer “faculty of all ranks across the disciplines with the goal of building and sharing a culture of teaching and learning”. Interestingly after completing the Acive Learning course of 8 workshops over two months, staff become “Active Learning Certified” following the course and will be able to integrate active learning strategies into their courses. http://dtei.uci.edu/active-learning-institute-ali/ I would like to be active learning certified, where do I sign up? Actually I am already too late as the courses are full, no surprise there.

Building communities and activity around the development of teaching and learning was also a focus for School of Medicine at Queen’s University. They have recently used change management techniques to expedicate a move to competency-based medical education (CBME) curriculum models. One of their slides stood out to me quoting a simple styructiure for change management from a paper focussed on innovation in healthcare by Dr Donald Berwick. The full paper can be accessed here (add link). I am particularly interested in views on innovation from different industries and this slant on innovation in healthcare of great interest.

The development team at Queens applied these insights to support the adoption of new the teaching and learning activities. Here is the systems approach to change management they applied.

  1. Find sound innovation
  2. Find and support innovators
  3. Invest in early adopters
  4. Make early adopters activity visible
  5. Trust and enable re-invention
  6. Create slack for change
  7. Lead by example.

On top of this technique they added the idea of building a community with shared mental models.

If anyone is wondering how to quickly develop shared mental models I have 10Kg of lego and some simple methods to show you.

Presentations on Teaching and Learning at the Conference

The publishing of articles on scholarship of teaching and learning was critically discussed in a presentation by Professor Gary Poole, University of British Columbia and editor of Teaching and Learning Inquiry Journal the journal for ISSOTL. https://tlijournal.com

He suggestes that a publishable paper should have; a relevant integrated literature review, sound methods aligned with goals of inquiry, discussion related to data, topic is important enough to be meaningful and relevant to many AND Clarity. Great advice indeeed.

Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, Assistant professor of industrial design from Iowa State University, presented a fantastic example of the power of visual thinking using ‘Sketchnoting’ as a learning tool to capture information and new concepts during lectures. This project was focussed on using sketchnoting outside of visual disciplines. For more information about the project you can watch a short video, see link below.

Presentation Video

Concluding Thoughts

I can thoroughly recommend the ISSOTL conference to develop you thinking around SOTL. A fantastic group of supportive people delivering high level thinking and really nice people to spend time with too!

People Mentioned:

  • Professor Gary Poole
  • Assistant professor Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness
HERDSA Auckland New Zealand Conference report