Navitas is a global, dual sector, private educational provider offering programs at Higher Education and Vocational and Educational Training levels across a range of subjects including health, criminology, social work, counselling and psychology. Navitas also offers English language for migrants, refugees and overseas students wishing to enter universities in Australia. Quality of teaching is a central concern for Navitas and in this context The Learning, Teaching and Innovation Unit (LTI) was tasked with providing professional development opportunities for teachers across this diverse and broad range of provision.
LTI took an evidenced based approach to the production of a capability development framework for those teaching in online, face to face and blended delivery scenarios. The Technological, Pedagogical and Content (TPACK) model occupies a core position in this framework in order to ensure that staff are supported in developing the full skill set necessary for teaching in the 21st Century. The Capability Development framework not only provides opportunity to staff to access and develop knowledge and skills for learning and teaching but also takes into account the broader institutional questions such as: reward and recognition for dedication to enhancing teaching and learning, and supporting scholarly teaching.
LTI will be using a social platform – Fuze – as the online space for delivering professional development opportunities to staff. Content will be tailored to the particular needs of teaching staff. For example, English language teachers will be supported in acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills to pass their six month observation test. Support will come in the form of short video segments along with reflective exercise. However, the real power of Fuze lies in its ability to connect teachers with one another for peer support. For example, teachers can comment on content, create and upload their own content and share valuable resources and links with one another. This form of sharing mirrors teachers’ real world activities where they share their knowledge with one another in the staff room.
In adopting a social networking model for professional development we are moving away from the notion of professional developers as content creators. Rather, we are viewing professional developers and teachers as occupying a space in a networked world of learning. Teachers can connect with one another, with peers from across the world, with web pages, blogs, databases and so on. Professional developers can draw on a wealth of already existing resources whilst at the same time contributing to those resources. We believe that this sort of professional development provision is more closely aligned with the nature of knowledge production and consumption in a world that is defined by connectedness.
Iain Doherty, Christina Del Medico and Ann Wilson