Supporting and enabling scholarship: developing and sharing expertise in online learning and teaching

Barnes, Fiona, Cole, Sue and Nix, Ingrid ORCID: (2018) Supporting and enabling scholarship: developing and sharing expertise in online learning and teaching. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 6 (1). pp. 66-74. ISSN 2051-9788

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Online learning and teaching is an area of academic practice which is subject to rapid and ongoing change – to which universities must respond. It is vital for educators to keep abreast of the digital skills and pedagogically sound ways to deliver effective learning experiences that will appeal to students in a competitive marketplace. Yet, when it comes to using technology in their teaching, staff capabilities can vary tremendously. Lack of confidence with the ‘tools’ and approaches, and scepticism over their potential can obstruct the integration of teaching and ‘tool’.

In addition, for many academics the motivation driving their teaching is the content of their subject-discipline rather than digital pedagogies. Some staff may also be working in relative isolation. Furthermore, there can be a distance between researchers and practitioners, making it difficult to directly influence practice. Therefore, the challenge is how to advance understanding about digital pedagogies to deliver technology-enhanced-learning, and how to share and develop this understanding on an ongoing basis.

A scholarship model offers the possibility of addressing such staff development needs. This paper explores a scholarship approach used by the Teaching Online Panel (TOP), which went some way to meeting the challenges of how best to:
•support scholarship investigations when people are dispersed across the UK and mostly working independently
•maintain motivation for completing small, ongoing projects
•share good practice promptly within an evolving environment
•share understanding of each other’s practice in settings where staff perform different, but intersecting roles.

The TOP approach, with its emphasis on the importance of a support network, fits well with the academic literature on ‘communities of practice’ (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002) and ‘landscapes of practice’ (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015a). Based on TOP’s experiences, we highlight the vital role played by ‘brokers’ who motivated workers to share their knowledge through completing projects. The brokers then operated between the different areas of the institution to ensure the findings reached relevant audiences.

This approach does not come without challenges and our reflections offer suggestions about how future scholarship initiatives can prepare to meet these.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.14297/jpaap.v6i1.323
Keywords: supporting scholarship, communities of practice, landscape of practice, staff development, online learning and teaching, brokers, enabling scholarship
Subjects: Education
Education > Higher education
Education > Teaching and learning
Depositing User: Ingrid Nix
Date Deposited: 02 May 2018 13:22
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 15:57


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