HE Teachers as Pedagogic Researchers was the final #lthechat for this academic year. It’s also the title of the pre-reading by Dr Abbi Flint on the HEA blog https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/blog/higher-education-teachers-pedagogic-researchers An appropriate choice before the summer chat-break. In these TEF times the topic of excellence in teaching is raising interest in scholarship. Valid questions are being asked, albeit with contentious answers but what matters is the conversation. Like the role of TEL in 21st century higher education – We Need to Talk!
The theory-practice divide between research and teaching is still a predicator of attitudes. There are many barriers to breach. Researchers say they don’t have time to teach and teachers don’t have time for research and those of us with TEL heads are caught in the middle where neither have time for our technologies.
So the #lthehat was spot on although they sneaked in an extra hashtag. #lthechat and #heachat took up 17 characters and space counts on twitter where brevity is part of the challenge fun. Browse through this beautifully presented Storify by Kandy Woodfield @jess1ecat for an overview of the session.
Like #lthechat I’m taking a break from the Friday blog this summer. It’s back to my research. Changing institutions involved a PhD gap year. Part-time doctoral study with full-time work is always a challenge (alert -danger – warning) but to move as well verges on impossible.
Yet it’s been unexpectedly valuable because time is integral to the learning process. Pause. Step away. Return. See how different everything looks. Change the context. Alter the view. When I look back over my PhD journey, which has been like a roller coaster on rocky rails, this is the year it coalesced. My research is about pedagogies and online environments, about supporting staff to become digitally confident and also about my own teaching practice. As practitioner-researcher I applied action research evaluation loops to inform the development of a teacher education programme. This enabled me to work with pedagogic theory and examine the difference it made – or not. It also opened the door to the research literature on digital education which is full of aspiration and magical thinking. Nowhere is the gap between theory and practice so wide and my research has positioned me in the vast open spaces in between.
Adopting a pedagogic research-mind forces critical examination. What did you do, why did you do it, how, where, when – all those questions which can be so difficult to answer. It’s like looking in a mirror and mirrors don’t always feel like friends.
Reflection is like technology. If you find it easy you risk forgetting what it’s like for those who don’t. Where courses have reflection built in, like practice placement, students can struggle with shifting from writing descriptive accounts to more crucially reflective ones. The research literature reinforces the value of reflective practice, both for learning and for life, but too often it’s another example where we tell students to do what we don’t do ourselves. Like using TEL, going to the library, or carrying out research projects.
Too often we don’t draw the lines between the dots. We use TEL but don’t consider how it might be evidence for accreditation. We carry out our own inquiries into learning but don’t see it as a pedagogical research activity. It comes back down to sharing practice and the need to talk. For people who spend most of their working lives talking with students we can be less good at talking to each other.
So thanks #lthechat for the reminder and timely insight into the thoughts and experiences of so others across the sector. It’s time to open up the research diary again, download NVivo and blow the digital dust off my data. Hello Phd. I’m back.