Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Peer Review and Teaching as Collaborative Activity

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra where Ian Solomonides, Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre at Macquarie  University is speaking on Peer Review and Teaching as  Collaborative Activity. He raised issues of external peer review and professional development. However, I suggest that incentives for staff need to be considered. Teaching is a secondary consideration for most academics and their institutions, after research. Academics are selected and promoted primarily based on their research publications and funding attracted. It may not get the academic a job to emphasise their expertise in teaching, they just need to be adequate. Institutions want efficient teaching, preferably using on-line automated tools and casual tutors. Universities have found they can market courses based on the institution’s research reputation, even though this has no relationship to the quality of teaching.

Dr. Solomonides suggested the idea of teaching as making learning possible, as well as organising and telling. This is a routine part of teaching courses now, particularly those of e-leaning.

My suggestion would to use the peer approach with those staff who are most likely to be responsive, which are those receiving low student feedback scores, new and adjunct staff.

Also it is needs to be acknowledged that teaching is only a second profession for most academics. The academics are first of all a researcher (or for adjuncts are working professionals). Institutions could encourage teaching development trough the academics' primary discipline, so this will be seen as directly relevant by their peers. As an example, I am a member of the Australian Computer Society, which has an interest in the education of computer professionals (it accredits university coursers), so  teaching is seen as part of the discipline.

In addition, there is the opportunity to improve the kills of teachers while transitioning to e-learning.

Dr. Solomonides mention the "Carpe Diem MOOC" Swinburne University free Open Online Course on effective learning design.

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