The Centre for Lifelong learning is delighted to announce that Dr Ian Willis has been awarded Principal Fellowship of the University of Liverpool Teaching Recognition and Accreditation (ULTRA) framework. Principal Fellowship is awarded to highly experienced staff in recognition of wide-ranging positive impact on learning and teaching practice, and Ian’s success is a significant achievement.
ULTRA is accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA), which means that University of Liverpool staff are able to apply for professional recognition of their learning and teaching through ULTRA, and achieve HEA Fellowship at the same time. Since the implementation of ULTRA, five Principal, twenty-six Senior and two Fellowships have been awarded.
Ian, who is the Head of the Educational Development Division, said:
“I’m delighted to have been awarded Principal Fellowship. The process was both supportive and demanding in that it pushed me to some useful reflections and realisations. I’m grateful for the support of colleagues in the Centre for Lifelong Learning and wider in gaining the award. I look forward to contributing to the ULTRA scheme, which I think will grow significantly in terms of opportunities for recognition for individuals and in demonstrating the university’s commitment to learning and teaching.”
As part of his commitment to enhancing the student experience through excellent learning and teaching, Ian will continue to support and encourage colleagues to apply for recognition of their skills and expertise through the ULTRA Framework.
For academic staff, being strategic in their career planning and being part of effective collaborative networks appears to be essential ingredients for a successful academic endeavour. At the Centre for Lifelong Learning, as part of our academic development remit we recently held two workshops exploring these broad topics with groups of academic staff from the university’s three faculties.
The workshops were led by Professor Shelda Debowski who has extensive knowledge and experience in academic and senior management roles in higher education.
The workshops were delivered in a participatory manner and Liverpool academics were keen to share their experiences of making strategic decisions in their careers as well as how they manage and develop their collaborative networks in relation to their research and professional activities.
Professor Debowski provided an in-depth analysis of the higher education sector based on her experiences in both academic and senior management roles. This clarified the expectations stemming from academic and funding institutions and supported workshop participants towards reflecting on and sharing their own perceptions of higher education whilst recognising at the same time the role they play in this highly competitive and global environment.
Both workshops provided insights to good practice in planning academic careers and participating academic staff discussed disciplinary and interdisciplinary practices regarding strategic career planning and collaborative work in teaching and research.
Summaries from each workshop together with key observations by Professor Debowski are available in the videos provided below. In addition, Professor Debowski offered her top suggestions for being strategic in making choices for an academic career and for establishing and maintaining effective collaborations.
This year’s Learning and Teaching conference, held in the Foresight Centre on the 2nd July 2015, once again showed an increase in the number of presentations and attendees discussing innovative practice in learning and teaching across The University of Liverpool.
Professor Daniella Tilbury, inaugural Vice Chancellor of the University of Gibraltar, opened the conference by asking staff to discuss the meaning of ‘Learning to Change’ and ‘Sustainability’ amongst themselves before presenting a talk that asked delegates to think hard about the purpose of a university education for students and society.
This set the tone for a lively, engaging, and enjoyable conference with a record number of delegates able to choose from 58 presentations and workshops on offer (all abstracts available here) from staff from across the university and some of our partner institutions. A number of the presentations were co-delivered with students, which always adds an additional perspective.
Professor Gavin Brown, our new Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, gave the afternoon address. His presentation comprised an overview of the fast-changing national context for Learning and Teaching, including the ‘hot off the press’ setting up of a process to develop a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). He then spoke about the university strategic review and his early thoughts on an Education Strategy.
Two further presentations showcasing innovative learning and teaching practice were delivered by two Faculty winners of the Sir Alistair Pilkington awards for teaching excellence – Dr Georgina Turner from Media and Communications, and Dr Ali Al-Ataby from Electrical Engineering and Electronics. The conference was also the launch event for the new lecture capture software developed by the Computing Services Department.
Overall, the conference provided an opportunity for many colleagues to share their enthusiasm for learning and teaching, and to learn about other innovative learning and teaching practice that is happening across our institution.
Along with Dr Brian Jennings of the Ghana Christian University College, I was asked by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) to design and deliver a programme for mid-level administrators in African Universities so that they can be better able to support learning and teaching within their universities. This came about from the ACU’s recognition that the role of administrators is often undervalued and they usually have little access to training opportunities, especially accredited training.
All too often legitimate concerns such as this are addressed by ‘running workshops’, where good learning may well occur, but where there is little evidence of any subsequent impact. We decided to design this programme so participants would develop a change project to be implemented in their universities.
We ran a week-long programme in London for 13 administrators drawn from six African countries. During this time we facilitated input and discussion on key issues of learning and teaching such as Quality Assurance, Assessment & Feedback and Technology Enhanced Learning. In addition, there were sessions on professional skills such as communication and giving presentations. There were plenty of lively discussions and finding of commonalities and differences across the continent. One interesting discussion centred on the notion of ‘best practice’ and how this cultivated the idea that ‘best practice’ somehow existed and was to be found elsewhere, often in the West. In turn this can lead to a search for some ideal and so often overlooks good local practice and development suited to local contexts.
We covered project planning from a strengths-based perspective. This turned out to be the right approach as these administrators could often be categorised as having lower status roles compared to their academic colleagues, despite their skills, qualifications and contributions. Peer feedback helped to ensure that projects met the key criteria of being concisely described, manageable in a three month time frame and able to deliver evidence of impact. Projects could be team-based or faculty wide; examples include moving from a paper based to electronic reporting system and implementation of a systematic staff planning process. In order to complete the programme participants must implement their projects in the next three months and critically reflect on their learning.
To support their work and offset the risks of isolation on return they will each recruit a mentor in their own university and are encouraged to sign up to the programme’s LinkedIn group for discussing issues and sharing progress.
In addition, the programme will be accredited by the Staff and Education Development Association and formally evaluated so that we can assess the impact of the programme – what were the outcomes and evidence and from that, and shall we run it again?
The week was a great success, plenty of enthusiasm, learning and laughter, now let’s see how the projects go…