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Professional development of lecturers: 'Together is the keyword'

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Tips for professional development of lecturers

Together. Learning together, developing together, determining together what is needed. “Together” was the magic word of the ‘professional development of lecturers’ session during the SURF Education Days 2020. Two hosts, three teachers, four studio guests, and dozens of online participants looked back on six months of online education. And shared their tips for teachers and educational supporters in tertiary education.

Together as a keyword

Anyone who watches the session “Support and professional development of lecturers” and reads the tips participants shared in chat and Mentimeter can’t possibly ignore the word ‘together’. Develop education together (teachers, support, staff and students), determine together where the support demand lies, learn together. It can go wrong, as long as you learn from it. In this blog, we have listed the most important tips and advice from the session.

Tip 1: Lecturers, meet up!

Don’t continue to struggle alone with an application, a didactic approach, or ideas for interaction. Exchange learning experiences, experiment (together), and remember: making mistakes is okay. It’s important that lecturers are facilitated in this and that collective learning takes place. So record lessons learned and use them next time. To all supporters in tertiary education: facilitate the learning process of lecturers based on each other’s experiences. Don’t talk too much about sharing “successes” or “best practices,” because whilst they’re intended to motivate lecturers, they can also be a deterrent or set the bar unnecessarily high. And besides: sometimes you learn more from what went wrong than from what went well.

“Make sure to coordinate matters with your colleagues! Take small steps and think mainly from learning objectives to appropriate activities. ”

“Encourage peer review: lecturers watch other online lectures. Discuss before and after together. Lecturers exchange tips (about IT and didactics). ”

“Create a website with best practices per working method.”

Tip 2: Education is teamwork!

As cliché as it may sound, education is teamwork. This applies to teaching and development. Not every lecturer has to be able to do the same, be at the forefront of the latest applications or be a star in didactic creativity. You don’t have to be able or do everything yourself, and that gives peace of mind. Where possible, also involve students in shaping education. This can be done in the design phase but also during implementation/ For example by asking a student as a chat moderator or by agreeing to give simple direct feedback (for example via emojis in the chat). And ask for help if you need it. There are many people out there willing to help you. And especially for supporters of education: offer and listen to teachers. Ask what they need, keep asking questions, and respond to that. Don’t set the bar too high and adjust what you bring to what’s possible in the context. Respond to the development in the support questions of lecturers. Some need help with the basic applications (how do I…?), others are looking for didactic methods and still, and others yet again are in need of a redesign of their teaching.

“Talk to students and lecturers. Sometimes the image that the lecturers thinks he or she is conveying, isn’t the same as what the student experiences.”

“Don’t start with the tools, but start with the aim of the lesson. Many lecturers want to know how a specific tool works, we first ask them: what do you want to achieve in your lesson? Often complicated tools aren’t necessary at all!”

Tip 3: Make it as easy as possible for teachers

Organize help and support in a central and recognisable place, such as the Blended Learning Lab of The Hague University of Applied Sciences, and make sure help is also available nearby. For example, many institutions now work with DLO coaches, i-coaches, or ICTO coaches, familiar faces within the study programme. Don’t forget to check what lecturers need. Ask: what do you need and who can help you? Invite lecturers to share their learning experiences. Share with lecturers how others have handled things. Dose your knowledge, but don’t overload lecturers with too much information. If lecturers (teams) are ready to (re)design their education, take them through the step-by-step stages of the process.

“As a lecturer-supporter, be aware of your sphere of influence: in which area can you make a difference? And then pour your energy into it.”

“Lecturers need a face that they know and dare to ask for, this isn’t always efficient, but it’s necessary. So facilitate this! Time and space for both lecturers and support staff. ”

It doesn’t have to be perfect

Of course, we also try to organise education online as well as possible. But it also goes wrong at times. And that doesn’t matter, students say. In fact, if you look back at the Education Days breakout session on online bonding, you’ll see that students say blunders or mistakes only make lecturers more human and accessible. So don’t set the bar too high for yourself, regardless of whether you’re a lecturer or supporter. You’re allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. Preferably together.

Tip 4: Use knowledge that’s already there

This tip naturally applies to lecturers and support staff, but certainly also to policymakers and managers: use knowledge that’s already available, work evidence-informed. Use the tools from the Acceleration Plan. You can find these tools on the page of the zone Facilitating professional development for lecturers.

Marian Kat-de Jong

Connector zone Professional development
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