Abertay’s growing community of practice- the power of cake?!

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Yesterday we held the Teaching and Learning Enhancement team’s inaugural open lunch and it seemed to be a terrific success! It is difficult to say exactly how many colleagues attended but certainly in excess of 80 over the two hours. This included academic staff from all four Schools as well as a range of professional services and support functions including Secretariat, the Library, Student Services, Information Services, Student Recruitment, Partnerships etc. I am sure that the lure of new technology and food played an important part but what really struck me was the level of discussion and engagement at the event.

I joined Abertay almost two years ago and in that time have witnessed (and, I suppose, helped to catalyse) significant change in the university. I am conscious of the impact of the teaching and learning reforms on colleagues’ day to day working lives but I think it is really important to remember why we have been introducing these changes; to enhance Abertay’s student experience and the quality of our provision. This has included emphasising assessment for learning as well as assessment of learning and recognising students’ wider achievements while they are at university (HEAR).

Equally importantly, we have put significant resource to help “raise the status of teaching” (the third strategic priority of Abertay’s TLE strategy) and I believe we now have a strong and vibrant community of practice. Wenger (1998) has written extensively about creating and sustaining communities of practice and developed a conceptual framework for thinking about learning as a process of “social participation”[i]. Yesterday was a prime example of this in action watching colleagues sharing ideas and practice and engaging in critical debate, particularly around different approaches to Electronic Management of Assessment!

Also yesterday we sought feedback on the support and services which the TLE team provides. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and one of the key recurring messages was that staff value face to face contact. Another was that our colleagues are still fairly conservative when it comes to communication- email still being more favourable than social media.

I would encourage you to follow our new blog, however, as that is where you will find a one stop shop on all TLE-related news. So far, only the team has been blogging but we would welcome your contributions tooJ

Go on and, in the meantime, I look forward to more social participation learning in the future!

Alastair Robertson,

Director of Teaching and Learning Enhancement

[i] Wenger, E, 1998. Communities of Practice: learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge University Press.


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