If you are in a hurry, or only interested in real gems of wisdom, my advice would be to stop reading now and move to the next page. I fear this is going to be rambling. It is late on a Wednesday evening at the kitchen table, and the wine glass is empty. Furthermore, having just proof-read this issue I am weary of worrying about commas and the like, and what follows is likely to be ungrammatical!
At the end of September, like many academic colleagues, I am wondering “where did the summer go?” Holiday, yes (but still not managed to take all my leave days), committees, exam boards and external examining, writing some teaching materials and web pages (with accessibility in mind – see Middling and Bostock, page 8, and the online review, page 18). A book chapter (unfinished), some refereeing, and whoosh – here we are again at the start of semester. A new cohort of students is queuing up for service, only momentarily nonplussed by their new environment.
After a summer in the sunshine of varied academic activity, we must now buckle down, with our students and colleagues, to the weekly routine of classes, workshops, and committees. The big items on the educational agenda – widening participation and equal opportunity, quality assurance and programme specifications, skills and work related learning, learning technology, and so on – seem to have been around so long that we might assume they are a done deal. Instead, a moment’s thought shows we are only at the start of a long, upward journey. This is one of the conclusions of the lead article on Partnerships for Progression by Professor Peter Scott. Other articles in this issue address these agenda items. William Locke’s article (page 14) describes another national step forward on the employability project. Margaret Harrison discusses the changing roles of programme specifications (page 20). Catherine Bennett and Nick Hammond summarise their work on technology support for small group learning (page 10).
Autumn term always feels a long one and enthusiasm can be hard to maintain. Except that, when this summer I talked to a blind student, a student returning to study after years as a coal miner, and a student from the Far East eager for the experience of HE in the UK, I realised once again that for many (all?) of our students their time with us will be a life-changing experience, just as my degree years were for me. However much they are paying or not paying, they are giving up a chunk of their lives in the hope of personal development and advancement. That seems such a valuable thing to be able to give, and help our colleagues to give, to our fellow citizens and to our paying guests, that the warm feeling should be enough to get me to Christmas in one piece. It will also remind me to try to enjoy giving the classes and workshops along the way, and to learn from the experience, maybe using some advice on evaluation from Michelle Hayes and Godfrey Pell (page 23). Perhaps this is a tot of the reasoned optimism David Baume prescribes? (Dialogues, page 27) Thank you, David. I’ll drink to that!
I found much to engage and inform me in this issue of Educational Developments, and I hope you do too.
Educational Developments Editorial Committee
This issue contains articles on:
Partnerships for Progression: evolution or transformation? (Word doc)
Professor Peter Scott, Vice Chancellor of Kingston University
Out of the Shadows: responding to the changing role of technical staff at Coventry School of Art & Design
Elizabeth Grant, Teaching Fellow, Coventry School of Art & Design, Kathy Courtney and Rakesh Bhanot, Centre for Higher Education Development and Shaun Spain, Mark Butree, John Smith, David Challenor and Andrew Brookes, Computer Technicians
Accessibility: implications for teaching staff and staff developers
Toni Middling, Disability Services Co-ordinator and
Stephen Bostock FSEDA, Advisor for Technology and Learning Keele University
Using C&IT in Small-Group Activities
Catherine Bennett and Nick Hammond, Department of Psychology, University of York
Enhancing Employability, Recognising Diversity – a Universities UK and CSU
Report William Locke, Policy Adviser, Universities UK
Online Review: Designing Web Sites That Are Accessible to All
Stephen Bostock FSEDA, Advisor for Technology and Learning, Keele University
Working with Programme Specifications Now and in the Future
Margaret E Harrison, Faculty Academic Standards Chair, University of Gloucestershire
Pedalling the Evaluation Cycle
Dr Michelle Haynes, Open and Distance Learning Adviser, Centre for Learning Development, Middlesex University and Godfrey Pell, School of Probability and Statistics, Sheffield University
Dialogues – research and teaching
David Baume FSEDA, Higher Education Consultant.