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MEAD Meeting 1 - Melbourne Educational and Academic Developers

Melbourne Educational and Academic Developers Meeting 1, September 16, 2010.

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Matthew Riddle
20 September 2010

La Trobe University (LTU) hosted the inaugural meeting of a new professional network of educational and academic developers on Thursday the 16th of September, 2010.  The meeting drew over 30 people together from Universities across Melbourne, with more expressing interest in joining the group at future meetings.  The network was initiated by Bernadette Knewstubb (LTU), Pam Mulready (Deakin) and Tai Peseta (LTU) in recognition of the growing need for cooperation in research in teaching and learning between staff in this area, and to provide opportunities for professional development and networking.

Extra content

Development of Themes

The first session was a brainstorming session designed to elicit ideas for commonality among the group.  There were many ideas listed and a vote on topics saw six main themes emerge.  The themes emerging from this discussion are listed under two key headings: Continuing Professional Development and Research.

The six themes taken to the next stage included Flexible Learning, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Professional Identity, Transition to Teaching/Grad Cert, Student Transition/Internationalisation (Diversity) and the 'ology' topic which included epistemology, ontology and axiology.

Feel free to add othe ideas to the TypeWith.Me Documents.  These will be transferred to more permanent homes in the near future.  You can also add new TypeWith.Me documents and link them below or send them in to be added.

There is also a WallWisher for adding short thoughts.

06:07 on 20 September 2010 (Edited 23:07 on 21 September 2010)

What should the focus be for our next event?

Captured “on the clouds” are the identified interests expressed at the first meeting, and from the 6 broad themes, the most popular of these were:

  1. Programs supporting the transition to, and professionalisation of, university teaching (Foundations Programs and Graduate Certificates of HE).
  2. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.


The Deakin event will now focus on one theme, but we require your input to determine which of the above two it will be!  What do I have to do?

Your thoughts and participation is requested over the next two weeks until the morning of the 27th October.  There will be a couple of short 'briefing' papers presented by Deakin staff to prompt debate about each of the above issues.  Discussion threads for each of these will be established.  You are asked to contribute to the discussion in constructive but challenging ways.  Please contribute by commenting on the provocation papers or on other participants' comments.  At the end of the debate, an online poll will be conducted to decide which if the themes we will pursue even further at our next face to face meeting.

Please feel free to circulate thisinvitation to colleagues you think might be interested in joining the debate or the MEAD group.    You can register for the Deakin Event or to be included on our mailing list by contacting   (Please advise of dietary requirements).

Where:   Deakin University, Burwood Campus

          225 Burwood Highway, Burwood Victoria

         he1.014 on 10th Nov between 12:00noon to 5:00pm.

When:    1.30 lunch for 2 pm start and 4pm close.

Colin Mason
23:10 on 16 October 2010

The journey from sessional to professorial university academic staff: how to support lifelong professional learning and transitions through career development and planning in higher education (HE)?

 At the first meeting of the MEAD group one of the two most popular areas of special interest was “Transition to Teaching”.  This included those programs supporting the transition to, and professionalisation of, university teaching, eg Foundations Programs and Graduate Certificates of Higher Education (GCHE).  The staff that worked on this special interest group topic identified the following issues:

Common interests

Adult pedagogy applied in HE

Staff as students and on practice of learning

Transition – particularly, sessional staff

Impact of Graduate Certificates



Gaps in the literature?

ALTC strategic priorities?

I reflect on one university context and invite your own contributions on this?  Po[1] – all academic staff are learners, have careers, and are in transition all the time – they need no help at all!

The following brief account and diagram are designed to ‘provoke’ (po) creative thinking about how university academic developers can articulate various programs of support for staff in the teaching aspect of the academic role of potential and established staff.  The diagram focuses upon the Deakin context, but you are invited to layer your own institutional context across the thrust of the idea.

 Career Development Model for Academic Teaching Staff at Deakin

(a diagram will be inserted here - or linked)










PDCAS - Professional development of casual and Sessional staff

Fundamentals- Fundamentals of Teaching

GCHE – Graduate Certificate of Higher Education

The idea, to be built upon (not shot down by anyone wearing a ‘black thinking hat’[2]) is that sessional (casual) staff, which range from first year postgraduate students to very senior, experienced and expert practitioners in specialised fields, are often a key point of delivery of teaching for substantial parts of courses and programs, particularly in small group settings.  The amount of support for this key teaching role is variable.  Sessional staff often transition to continuing academic positions.  Once again, support for the teaching role may be variable.  Further, a traditional view in higher education is that a PhD and learning by doing (teaching) is sufficient professional development.  As universities have become more accountable for the quality of their teaching, the provision of systematic support for teaching and professionalisation, mediated via central or faculty-based academic development, has grown.

In the contemporary university, debate continues both with the meaning of ‘professionalisation’ and the best way to evidence it.  In the UK, and now in Australia, there has been significant growth in the provision of professional learning for teaching, including requirements in probation conditions that staff undertake some form of education and training for teaching in HE.  The proposition encapsulated in the diagram is, how can the patchy sort of provision be made more professional, aligned at different stages of potential and actual university academic careers, and be delivered as efficiently as possible to ‘time-poor’ staff?  This can include studying for a qualification such as a GCHE or PGCHE (or higher eg Diploma).

The diagram points to identifying common elements of support provided to staff at transition points, and then avoiding duplication by implementing procedures involving recognising (accrediting) prior learning in a cumulative fashion.  Mechanisms would be required to permit staff to ‘make a claim’ (‘Claimsmaking’[3]) for having achieved particular learning outcomes through a range of their formal (eg cohort attendance at induction seminars, one off workshops, individual consultancy with an academic developer) or informal learning experiences (eg staff conversations in departments; feedback from students; peer review meetings; accounts of how specific readings have been put into classroom practice).  Such claims might be supported by evidence collected, selected and reflected upon in an eportfolio, which staff would be encouraged to create as part of their commitment to professional learning and which could also support a personal and professional review (PPR) process.  En passant, this approach might be a useful to help staff articulate to their own students how career development and planning can contribute to students’ own abilities and qualities, including self-awareness, and the gathering of evidence which could improve their employability.

One impediment to engaging staff in these programs maybe the perceived (lack of?) value they have in different institutions.  What are the rewards for engaging in such activity; what is its standing; and does it lead to advances in employment, institutional acknowledgement or self fulfilment?  Do programs such as PDCAS or Fundamentals currently contribute to Graduate Certificates (of HE), SOTL and/or research outcomes?  Is this journey linked to the established reward and recognition systems?

Another idea might be to reconceptualise the PhD.  This could include a teaching component since the underpinning skills and attitudes would be useful whether someone undertaking a PhD progresses to teaching (in HE) or not.  Such experience will be useful for disseminating complex ideas in many other contexts.  A further consideration might the topic of PhD study.  There is a growing interest in professional doctorates in practice-based professions.  Extending PhD study programs to include integrating research and scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) within a discipline may be another way to conceptualise the PhD.

Some key questions for the design, development, implementation and review of programs supporting the transition to, and professionalisation of, university teaching (Foundations Programs and GCHEs) for the MEAD group might be:

  • What resources do we already have to support any of the programs and professional learning opportunities identified above?
  • Are we prepared to share these amongst potentially ‘competing’ institutions?
  • Could it be useful to develop cross-institutional cohorts of cognate discipline-based staff in learning teams to promote collaboration and co-operation rather than the usual competition?
  • If different institutions contribute resources (including academic development staff time and expertise) to a common program, who awards ‘certification’?
  • Can we learn how to avoid having to answer some of these questions from the literature and other, similar initiatives (eg SHEDLOADS?)
  • What is the impact of single-institution versus multiple institution professional support for professionalising teaching roles in higher education?
  • What is the potential for scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) of models such as this which suggest consistent evolutionary cycles in professional learning?

Now, add some more questions of your own!





Professor Colin Mason

Director of the Institute of Teaching and Learning

Deakin University

14 October, 2010




[1]                  Po – as in ‘provocation’ eg de Bono, E (1994).  “Parallel Thinking”.  BCA, London.

[2]                  De Bono, E. (1986).  “Six Thinking Hats”.  Viking, London.

[3]                  Knight, P. T. and Yorke, M. (2003).  “Assessment, Learning and Employability”.  Buckingham, SRHE and Open University Press.

Colin Mason
23:17 on 16 October 2010

Hi all, don't you hate it when things start with a bang, and then go quiet?

Firstly, based on some of Colin's Pos (which being a technophobe, I'd never heard of before, but have now) - is that transition to teaching sounds like a great next topic. I like the idea of caademic staff as learners and being constantly in transition - thinking about how this can be supported most effectively by academci developers would certainly be useful to me.

What does anyone else think?


My next thought was about names - I like naming things, and while MEAD works in some ways it shouldn't exclude other Victorians - I had a play with V (for Victoria) words, and came up with


Network of



Developers  and




What do you reckon? Any other potential names out there?

Finaly - is there an RSVP by date for the Deakin event?

Hope to see everyone again soon. It was really great to meet so many people last time.


Bernadette Knewstubb
02:38 on 25 October 2010 (Edited 02:43 on 25 October 2010)

Hi Bernadette


I like your Invaders, by the way.  I just can't help rising to a challenge - hence my VATICAN!



Colin Mason
03:19 on 28 October 2010

Hi Colin and all,

Appreciate the provocation. My sense is that issues related to transition and articulation for academics is fundamental to useful, good, effective academic development. And it makes sense for institutional risk reasons and for guarding against waste reasons that we be concerned with these things. Hard to know whether this leads to better student learning. Given the mobility of the academic workforce and my increasing sense that the body of knowledge which underpins university teaching, learning and curriculum development is pretty similar (here I point to the work that on key concepts in grad certs), it's hard to understand why this has been so hard to do. I think the systems level stuff is incredibly important but one part of me also worries about academic development's relationship to ideas about systems, alignment and articulation - and what that sort of fantasy leads us to. The Cambridge anthropologist Marilyn Strathern who has written great deal about audit in the university makes a nice case for 'contradiction being the engine of the intellect'.

Cheers, Tai

Tai Peseta
13:09 on 28 October 2010

Embedded Content

Vote for the theme of our next event

Vote for the theme of our next event

added by Pamela Mulready


Colin Mason
10:14pm 26 September 2010 (Edited 10:14pm 26 September 2010)

Hi all

 Thia is a great start, and I congratulate Allison and Matthew on providing a virtual space for us. 

When the Scottish Network set up SHEDLOADS it relied totally on volunteer contributions.  For the Wiki – St Andrews had responsibility beyond the funded project phase because we had had funding and the design expertise within the SALTIRE for the work – and its subsequent maintenance.   You might want to check out SHEDLOADS, and perhaps discover the meaning of the acronym, SALTIRE too!

 Best wishes to all


Pauline Porcaro
11:19pm 26 September 2010

Hi, I agree Colin what a wonderful initiative! Congratulations to the team and this is a wonderful way of keeping it alive in between meetings.

Cheers Pauline

David Hirst
11:47pm 13 October 2010

Well done to the first meeting organisers, and great initiative to get this site up & running.




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