Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Riding the complex wave of higher education development: Using technology to varying degrees to enable productive professional learning (#179)

Lee Partridge 1 , Deb Clarke 2 , Lesley Petersen
  1. UWA, Nedlands, WA, Australia
  2. Charles Sturt University, Bathurst

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

For many academics, time is an increasingly scarce commodity as the demands on them to be scholarly teachers as well as research-active within their discipline grow. There is an obvious need for a process by which those unfamiliar with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) can connect with a community of others on the same journey. This showcase outlines a small scale project that was funded by HERDSA to develop a resource that introduced new scholars into a SoTL community of practice. Three iterations of the program are described: A face-to-face intensive six hour workshop that was supported by resources online; a second that ran for a period of five weeks involving a flipped classroom model with online resources to be accessed prior to synchronous online meetings with participants and coordinators/facilitators utilising Adobe Connect technology; and a third, currently in development, which will be a completely online version that enrols participants at certain points of time so that they will be able to progress through the learning as a cohesive cohort and effective community of practice. The use of increasing degrees of technology allows for reduced input from the facilitators, greater flexibility of access for participants, and potentially larger and more dispersed cohorts able to undertake the professional learning. Evaluation of the first two programs indicate comparably high participant satisfaction in relation to satisfying their professional learning needs.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This showcase arguably addresses two of the conferences subthemes, namely, Navigating uncertainty and complexity and Exploiting emerging technologies to enable employability. In the Australian higher education sector there is currently significant discussion and a degree of uncertainty surrounding what is seen as inevitable and unprecedented challenges. In the light of this, as Probert (2013) puts it, “[T]here is widespread agreement that the academic profession will undergo major change, particularly in relation to the differentiation of the academic workforce and the growth of various kinds of ‘teacher- focused’ roles” (p 36). In her discussion paper, Why Scholarship matters in higher education, Probert (2014) goes on to argue that in the current climate of anticipated uncapped tertiary fees and places, “now is the time …to engage with Boyer’s ideas about scholarship” (p20). Employability in the higher education of the near future may well depend on academics embracing the scholarship of teaching and learning more than ever before. The three cases outlined in this showcase illustrate the use of technology to help navigate the existing uncertainly and complexity and enable employability, not of our graduates, but of our future academics in higher education.


  1. Probert, B. (2013). Teaching-focused academic appointments in Australian universities: recognition, specialisation, or stratification? Discussion paper 1, Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.
  2. Probert, B. (2014). Why scholarship matters in higher education. Discussion paper 2, Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching