Addressing the contemporary issues relating to the delivery of education, Culture, Change and Community in Higher Educat
199 97 2MB
English Pages  Year 2019
From pressures to become economically efficient to calls to act as an agent of progressive social change, higher educati
301 42 28MB Read more
This book discusses emerging issues related to teaching-learning in Indian higher education and the integration of tech
365 43 3MB Read more
This book is the first major account of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Arab higher-education sector. It provides
859 38 9MB Read more
482 110 3MB Read more
This book is the first of four edited volumes designed to reconceptualize teaching and learning in higher education thro
1,642 75 4MB Read more
This edited volume connects the origins of US higher education during the Colonial Era with current systemic characteris
280 85 2MB Read more
In a world where the global engagement and international dialogue intensifies, some areas of cultivated knowledge suffer
435 81 5MB Read more
Culture is a living thing. In social settings, it is often used to represent entire ways of life, including rules, value
298 46 4MB Read more
This book offers a selection of the best papers presented during the International conference on Mitigating and Adapting
242 65 12MB Read more
Table of contents :
Table of Contents
About the authors
1. Introduction: The context of higher education in the UK
Dictionary definition of learning
Global drivers for change
Regional and local drivers
New geography of learning
2. Collaborative education
Astrategy for collaboration
Technology-enhanced learning team
Unintended consequences of learning collaboratively
Benefits of collaborative education
3. Creativity, community and curriculum
4. Transformative learning: Case studies
Examples of transformative strategy
UCLan case study: people, places and pedagogy– bridging the digital divide
Transformative education: an academic view
5. Learning in different contexts: The case for socially-immersive learning
Learning design, emphasising the social
The learner and learning
6. Continuity and change
The shape of the campus
Towards an inclusive campus
The evolving shape of support
The shape of the institution
Conclusion: the shape of learning
7. Acommunity within acommunity
The civic partnership
8. Communities of practice and continuing professional development for the real world
COP at faculty level– aculture of engagement
COP within and beyond discipline
COP by pedagogy: the active role of learning and teaching
COP by interdisciplinary activity
COP beyond the campus
Continuing professional development supporting curriculum design
CPD supporting curriculum delivery
CPD for and with stakeholders
CPD as sector drivers: Microsoft conference
Creativity and CPD: changing for anew world
Culture, Change and Community in Higher Education
Addressing the contemporary issues relating to the delivery of education, Culture, Change and Community in Higher Education explores the challenges of creating effective learning communities. Focusing on the creation and implementation of strategies which permeate and inﬂuence culture and enable staff to innovate, this book: • • • •
considers the balance between a focus on people, places, pedagogy and technology encourages the reader to explore the steps that can be taken to inspire creativity, collaboration and connectivity through the provision of learning environments which are both accessible and engaging employs case studies and examples to consider ways to support the creation of an effective and inclusive learning community offers both strategic and operational perspectives into creating learning spaces and evoking effective change
Culture, Change and Community in Higher Education offers insight into a topic that is becoming ever more important with the implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework. It is a must-read for Higher Education managers looking to implement effective and inclusive learning environments within their university. Dawne J. Gurbutt is Professor of Collaborative Education at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. Rachel M. Cragg is Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Central Lancashire, UK.
This page intentionally left blank
Culture, Change and Community in Higher Education Building, Evolving and Re-Building Learning Environments Edited by Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg to be identiﬁed as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identiﬁcation and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalogue record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-0-367-18344-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-06094-6 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Swales & Willis, Exeter, Devon, UK
About the authors 1
Introduction: the context of higher education in the UK
DAWNE J. GURBUTT AND RACHEL M. CRAGG
DAWNE J. GURBUTT AND RACHEL M. CRAGG
Creativity, community and curriculum
DAWNE J. GURBUTT AND RACHEL M. CRAGG
Transformative learning: case studies
RUSSELL GURBUTT AND KEVAN WILLIAMS
Learning in different contexts: the case for socially-immersive learning
RUSSELL GURBUTT AND BRIAN SMITH
Continuity and change
DAWNE J. GURBUTT AND RACHEL M. CRAGG
A community within a community DAWNE J. GURBUTT AND RACHEL M. CRAGG
Communities of practice and continuing professional development for the real world
DAWNE J. GURBUTT AND RACHEL M. CRAGG
DAWNE J. GURBUTT AND RACHEL M. CRAGG
About the authors
Rachel M. Cragg Pro Vice-Chancellor – Academic Development Rachel joined UCLan as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development) in 2017. She is responsible for the ongoing development of UCLan’s teaching and learning strategy, ensuring an outstanding student experience in a modern learning environment. Rachel works closely with senior colleagues at UCLan to help shape, develop and deliver UCLan’s strategic aims, delivery plans and key objectives and to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the university. Prior to joining UCLan, Rachel worked with the Open University, where she held the position of Director of Strategy, Planning and Resources. She had strategic responsibility for the student experience programme and enhancing student employability and career progression. As well as her experience within higher education, Rachel has delivered major change projects in other sectors. In her role as Head of Curriculum Design and Development for the police service, Rachel managed the redevelopment of the national police curriculum and led the work to develop the world’s ﬁrst professional body for policing, the College of Policing, on secondment to the Home Ofﬁce. Rachel brings invaluable leadership skills and experience in large-scale change to the executive team and is strongly committed to UCLan values and its mission. Together with senior colleagues, Rachel works in partnership with students to pursue excellence in teaching and the student experience. Rachel has degrees and qualiﬁcations from Durham University, Oxford University, South Bank University and the University of Bradford.
About the authors
Dawne J. Gurbutt Professor of Collaborative Education, University of Central Lancashire; Principal Fellow Dawne is an experienced practitioner and academic with a background in public health and has worked in areas of social deprivation across the North of England working directly with families and communities. An experienced academic, she holds qualiﬁcations in a range of discipline areas including health, education, literature and the social sciences and has managed a wide range of provision in different HE settings. This experience has led to a keen interest in collaborative practice and education. She has been involved in mentoring and coaching for many years and has published and presented in this area including international workshops. Dawne has held strategic roles including working across the four nations of the UK as Discipline Lead for Health in the Higher Education Academy, UK. Her role in the HEA included commissioning, designing, managing and delivering projects and programmes on pedagogy, public involvement, creativity in teaching and learning and she led on national initiatives in health. She also worked with institutional teams as a facilitator with the Change Academy. Whilst at the HEA she led on initiatives to increase collaboration across disciplines and to explore innovative ways of working to support a wider notion of ‘collaborative learning’ and to cross-fertilise learning techniques and tools across disciplines. She represented the HEA on national forums on simulation in HE and creativity in the curriculum involving work with ﬂipped classroom approaches, technology-enhanced learning and working on virtual reality resources with colleagues in Canada. She is Professor of Collaborative Education at the University of Central Lancashire, an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE) and a member of the CAIPE Board where she co-leads the learning and teaching group. Dawne is a governor at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust and a former staff member of the Board at UCLan. She is Deputy Director of the Teaching Excellence Alliance. Russell Gurbutt Professor of Nursing, University of Bolton Following a successful career in the Royal Navy, which included being promoted to Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth where he became the Senior Sub Lieutenant (General List Executive Branch).
About the authors ix Russell was awarded a ceremonial sword. Service experience included the Hong Kong Squadron, the Armilla Patrol (Arabian Gulf), as well as Middle, Far East (China Sea) and African deployments. During 1982 he served on a frigate in the Falkland war as a watch-keeping ofﬁcer and navigator. War experience included convoy escort, naval gunﬁre support (bombardments) and battle group screen defence. Awarded the South Atlantic Medal with rosette, the experience of the RN provided leadership and management development across a range of scenarios. Having left the Royal Navy (1982) Russell had involvement with managing a business in Colorado, USA (retail and IT sector) prior to a year spent undertaking pastoral education in the UK. He entered service in the NHS in mental health, subsequently qualiﬁed as a general nurse (1988 – distinction) and undertook a series of stafﬁng posts. Promotion to ward manager followed, managing a series of clinical services (acute medicine, elderly medicine, day surgery, outpatient services) including the commissioning of departments in a new hospital. That rich period of professional practice subsequently provided the background for texts about management as well as extending the breadth of management and leadership experience. Higher education work (since 1997) included course leadership, PhD studies (decision making) and post-doctoral work in Canada (2006/2013). Russell has held posts at UCLan, the Open University and University of Leeds (where he held a teaching fellowship). He has operated a healthcare consultancy (Scottish Charities) and also worked as a quality manager for a national charity. He is currently Professor of Nursing at the University of Bolton where he leads a Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Health. Brian Smith National Teaching Fellow; Principal Fellow An award-winning, energetic and highly motivated individual with a strong track record of leading enhanced learning in vocational, further and higher education settings at senior level. Brian graduated from Lancaster University with a bachelor’s degree in Organisation and Management Studies in 2004, and went on to earn a PGCE, and in 2008 completed a Master’s in e-Learning Education at Edge Hill University. His PhD studies extends his digital education work into understanding learner behaviour and ontological needs in the learning space. In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellow for excellence in developing and delivering high quality on-line and distance learning; recognising his success of
About the authors
working with employers and learners in developing inspiring and innovative new models of learning. Brian has extensive experience and skills in authoring digital learning content and delivering highly engaging learning across the globe. His work has been effective in numerous sectors to which he has spoken internationally on the subject of elearning, gamiﬁcation, Mode Neutral and Fiver Levers and the psychology of on-line and blended learning. Deploying work-based learning and coaching has brought about many employer engagement activities such as consultancy and research. He has a strong interest in organisational behaviour with a dedicated passion to increase individuals’ skills and knowledge in the workplace, ultimately contributing to organisational growth, prosperity and personal learning gain. Kevan Williams Digital Learning Manager, University of Central Lancashire Kevan has worked at the University of Central Lancashire since 1996, investigating, evaluating and managing the implementation of new and emerging learning technologies, He is now leading the strategic development of technology enhanced learning across the university. He is a regular presenter at conference events across the sector with multiple text and video resources published to highlight the positive impact of his work. He is Head of the TELT teaching team, based within the learning and information services and leads a number of areas including the classroom IT/AV support team, the technical services hubs, the media production group and the web and video conferencing resources, all of which provide effective support for learning and teaching across the university. Kevan works directly with academic colleagues across all schools and faculties to embed digital approaches in their curriculum and develops and coordinates the most appropriate, pedagogically-underpinned staff development activities to enhance academic practice. He is a Times Higher award winner in 2013 for outstanding contribution to ICT for developing and facilitating an organisational digitally-focussed cultural shift and also shortlisted for the Guardian University Awards 2013 and for Educate North 2018.
Introduction The context of higher education in the UK Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
Dictionary deﬁnition of learning Learning can be a conscious act: an intent to develop one’s knowledge or expertise. Learning can be an unconscious process, by which one becomes more expert or knowledgeable as a result of experience. Learning is not bound to a physical place or mind set, it is part of our every day. Some seek to learn; others experience it. The opportunity for deep learning comes from the spaces, the places, and the environments to reﬂect and consolidate. The physical and virtual spaces of the modern university are the environments through which those who choose to study at a higher level enhance their knowledge, skills and experience. In these spaces learning is far more than the content of a course or programme, it is about feeling included in an environment that enables the student to learn. The role of a contemporary university is to recognise how and where learning occurs and create physical and psychological spaces to enable effective learning. This community of learning succeeds through the active engagement of students and staff with a common purpose to make a positive contribution to society through knowledge, innovation and skills. In this book we explore ways in which contemporary higher education (HE) has and is adapting to change. Learning and digital technologies have shaped many of the pedagogic transformations in education over the past decade. Here our lens focuses on organisational culture and its community recognising the need to build, evolve and rebuild learning environments. For centuries, a ‘learning environment’ was depicted in art and literature as a communal space, probably ﬁlled with books and texts, usually conceived as quite formal in nature and most usually places to acquire knowledge from the written or the spoken word. An example would be the depiction of learned environments in which discourses take place
Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
(Shapin and Schaffer, 1985). Traditional universities across the world created such spaces, many of which still remain in active use today. Spaces that were made for individual study, such as the library, were still, in essence, communal places for solitary study. Other spaces included communal classrooms, halls and lecture theatres. These were, and still are, locations set aside for the purpose of learning. The traditional design of classrooms and lecture theatres were predicated on the need to focus on the ‘performance’ of an expert at the front, closely watched by learners. Acoustics would have also played a part: the ‘teacher’ or expert would need to be located in a space where their unampliﬁed voice could be readily heard. However, there has always been an acknowledgement that diversity exists in relation to learning spaces. Historically, the anatomical theatre in the University of Padova, dating back to 1594, and scientiﬁc laboratories are an example of diverse learning settings which did not share the seating arrangements of the theatre or areas for public entertainment. In previous centuries there was also, for many disciplines, the boundary and distinction between knowledge and skills; knowledge acquisition occurring in one type of setting and skills in another, an example of which would be the work of the physician (and later the surgeon) and the apothecary where multiple settings developed for learners to learn their craft. For some, knowledge and skill acquisition was sequenced, such as the ‘Articled’ approach to Law or Finance. It could be argued that the learning of skills has always relied to some extent on more contextual spaces. An early example of context-based learning is the medieval activity of jousting. The joust was itself a simulation of a heavy cavalry charge, but novices were introduced to the activity using a ﬁxed target and a wooden horse, i.e. a simulation to prepare for a larger simulation which ultimately would prepare for the real world scenario. The training for the practice of law in the UK by barristers began as ‘trial by battle’, which evolved into lawyers becoming ‘champions’ who could win a case with words alone (Leeson, 2011). This demonstrates how the skills required for professions change dramatically with context. As the education sector has developed, this boundary between the separation of skills and knowledge acquisition has been rendered increasingly more permeable. Universities are a setting for both types of learning. In recent years, the link between the need to be close to physical books and resources in order to learn has been broken by the portability of learning materials via digital connectedness and this, alongside other factors, has irrevocably changed the understanding of the concept of a learning environment. These changes have also challenged the assumptions about how and where learning takes place. Information is
Introduction: the context of HE in the UK
readily available to all, the learner’s task is to codify and apply; learning is deeper, skills are more valued. The workforce of the present needs to be able to continue to learn, develop new skills and adapt at pace. Higher education does not operate in a vacuum. There are a number of drivers operating at different levels which have had an impact on the nature of learning. These include, global, national, regional and local drivers for change in the recognition of learning needs and the search for ways to meet these dynamic and evolving societal demands. These will be discussed in the following chapters.
Global drivers for change Developments in one location can have a global impact as higher education is increasingly becoming an international endeavour with mobile students, both geographically and in on-line settings. The sector is now no longer solely concerned with meeting the needs of the local or even national workforce, but is paying attention to the development of the ‘global citizen’. This specialised attention pertains not only transferable skills, but also ethical and moral insights, cultural awareness and resilience to be able to work in multiple different settings. League tables have been globalised, as have national and educational developments, which are rapidly shared and emulated in a variety of settings worldwide. At one time becoming a graduate would have been perceived as sufﬁcient preparation for a graduate role. However, the global expansion of higher education and stronger links to industry and employers has led to an enhanced focus on the types of skills, knowledge and experiences deemed integral not only to the undergraduate programme but also to the global transferability of knowledge and skills. Therefore, employers and industrial leaders continue to remain focused on speciﬁc subject knowledge, but have added to this the desirability for graduates to be able to demonstrate cross-cutting skills that will enable them to exemplify their abilities in decision making, problem solving, communication, time management and team work. In addition, it could be argued that employers are increasingly looking for resilient graduates who are able to manage their own professional relationships and care for their personal and professional wellbeing. Today’s global graduate, needs to be prepared for an interconnected workplace in which they may work in teams that will never meet face-to-face, in roles that will constantly evolve throughout their working lives. Therefore, resilience and agility between settings are key skills that need to be learned alongside standard disciplinary content. The challenge of managing social media is also for the most part a global one. In an interconnected world, students can ﬁnd it challenging
Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
to ﬁnd the inclination and the space to be able to build a rapport with strangers, or to begin new friendships with previously unknown contacts when they remain in constant social media contact with a speciﬁc set of pre-existing friends who may be elsewhere. Coupled with the need to provide a social media presence, which asserts a somewhat aspirational identity alongside the persistent reminder of other’s carefully selected achievements, these factors have the capacity to impact not only a student’s resilience, but also their capacity to develop the social communication skills that are necessary for team working, and in particular for the caring professions. There is another associated factor with the rise in pervasiveness of social media: there is a slippage between access to information and the need for education. One of the constant challenges in building learning communities is deciding how best to convey to learners the difference between receiving information and learning. A similar challenge is raised in regards to helping a learner to understand the difference between merely reading about a discipline and applying their acquired knowledge in collective endeavours with others. Learning spaces can be provided, but the cultural narrative needs to include a reasoned argument for why participation on campus, where relevant, is beneﬁcial. This narrative reﬂects the development of ways of creating learning spaces that transition from knowledge acquisition to the application of skills. One iteration of this is the ‘ﬂipped classroom’, in which knowledge is transferred on-line, through a variety of modes such as information access, ELearning, or discussion with an eye to problem solving and solutionfocused collectives in shared learning spaces. Employers (Universities UK, 2015) articulate that they ﬁnd both aspects of this type of learning experience compelling; ﬁrstly, the ability to process information, learn independently and draw out issues or difﬁculties for discussion and clariﬁcation and secondly the ability to work efﬁciently and collaboratively to identify solutions and approaches.
National context The UK higher education sector has experienced and, at the time of writing, is still facing, signiﬁcant change and challenges. Universities remain an aspiration for families, a priority for a modern economy and a major export business. But somewhere along the way they seem to have suffered some kind of identity crisis. What are they for? Who are they meant to serve? And who should pay for them? Maybe their biggest challenge is to ﬁnd a renewed sense of
Introduction: the context of HE in the UK
purpose and to make a new contract with the public about how they can support one another. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42413636) The relationship between students and the institutions in which they study has been strongly impacted by the introduction of student tuition fees, which are fees paid by the student to the higher education institution. This payment scheme was recommended by the Dearing Report (1997) and fundamentally changed the model of higher education. As a consequence, it also changed the ways in which students see themselves. No longer are students perceived as mere recipients of higher education, but rather the new funding model rendered students as ‘customers’ who are making direct payments in exchange for education provision. Cost and value have increasingly become the norm around the boardrooms of higher education providers. This overall alteration in identity, and the impact on the student/ institution relationship is not one-way; it has reconﬁgured the ways in which universities and the wider sector sees students, it affects the way the public perceives higher education. In 2012 the cost of university tuition fees tripled over the course of a single year to a level which has subsequently remained relatively constant. The rapid escalation in the costs demanded of a student has resulted in an increasingly consumerist approach to educational provision, which in turn has undeniably impacted the lived experience of being a student. This has nevertheless had a positive impact on the student experience and the ever increasing focus on student partnership, satisfaction and outcomes. Through mechanisms such as the Teaching Excellence Framework (GovUK, 2017) efforts are being made to understand what constitutes and acknowledges a ‘good student experience’ – something that is extremely diverse, with multiple variables affecting students, multiple provider types and multiple philosophies and deﬁnitions of what constitutes good. Integral to this approach are attempts to quantify the extent of ‘learning provision’, an example being the National Student Survey, which was introduced in 2005, an annual cycle of data gathering (HEFCE, 2017) together with more speciﬁc evaluation initiatives such as the research into student contact hours (NUS/QAA, 2012). However, these measures do not easily take into account the full range of supplementary learning provision and opportunities provided by institutions. Learning gain exists within the wider context of the role of the higher education institution. Teaching, research and knowledge exchange are intertwined within the higher education environment, valued at public
Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
policy level with real value coming through the synergy and alignment of activity. Universities may have different strengths in each of these domains; rarely can they exist in isolation of each other. Exempliﬁed by the increased emphasis on the role of employability and enterprise in preparing students for the workplace after graduation (Butcher et al., 2011) and the beneﬁts derived from working collaboratively instead of working alone (Spelt et al., 2009; CAIPE, 2012). Access to higher education has been a government policy commitment for some time. In 1999, the Labour government articulated the importance of education, including a commitment to expand higher education to include 50% of school leavers (BBC, 1999). This aspiration has largely been met, with a recorded 49% of school leavers entering higher education (Guardian, 2017). The expansion to meet the 1999 pledge has widened the diversity of young people entering higher education, but this is not spread evenly across the system. Some universities focus on ‘widening participation’, choosing to admit a disproportionate number of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds in contrast to other universities. Student diversity is no longer limited to school leavers; there has also been a rise in mature students returning to study. This is part of a wider social change, in which universities have the opportunity to play an instrumental part. Many UK universities originated from industrial links. Post 1945, higher education came to be seen more as a social instrument, and one linked to equality of opportunity; the Labour government policy of expansion in 1999 was initially seen as focused on skills development for a prosperous economy, but included an increasing recognition of the role that higher education plays in increasing social inclusion (Williams and Cochrane, 2010). Higher education has a role in not only enabling access to qualiﬁcations, but also ensuring real social mobility, opening access to professional career opportunities for all regardless of background. The inclusion and engagement agenda considers students as learners and the links to industry, the workplace and the locality. The availability of degree apprenticeships are an initiative in this arena that combine salaried employment with study options, thus removing a barrier to those who feel unable to take on a student debt whilst also providing additional opportunities to those who do not want to defer work experience (Ofﬁce for Students, 2018). Degree apprenticeships also require employers to be co-partners in education, as they should actively provide workplace education. This subtly shifts the balance of educational determination and responsibility to a wider group of educators working co-operatively to create varied learning environments. Higher education in the UK, from January 2018, has for the ﬁrst time been regulated by the Ofﬁce for Students. This moves ensure accountability
Introduction: the context of HE in the UK
for the ways in which higher education providers are governed, for the quality of outcomes and in protecting the interests of students.
Regional and local drivers Universities are increasingly recognised as civic institutions Often they are one of the largest employers in the city, bringing wealth to the region through the resident student population and the graduates that remain in the location. Regional initiatives therefore both shape and are shaped by the activities of higher education institutions within the region via reciprocal knowledge exchanges, and in different ways that demonstrate the importance of engaging with local stakeholders. For example in the north-west of England initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse (NP, 2018), seek to create a regional centre for economic growth, and by doing so, emphasises the role of higher education in generating, supporting and extending regional developments, and Well North (2018) which focuses on the wellbeing of northern communities, working with stakeholders (including universities) to collaborate with localities so as to amplify the effects of wellness initiatives. These relationships extend into the conceptualisation of universities as being civic anchors, they need to be durable and consistent institutions that prepare communities to respond to and adapt positively to change. Context also inﬂuences at a local level. Each institution demonstrates the unique characteristics that result from being situated in a speciﬁc locality with its own micro-culture. The University of Central Lancashire has strong historical roots. Its 190 year heritage provides a consistent educational presence in the region, which originally stemmed from the founding of the Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge (UCLan, 2017). The university with its current values, orientation and rationale can trace its identity and origins back to this organisation, which sought to enable and empower local people. Having the support of its local community, and strong links with industrial stakeholders and employers, it remains the higher education destination of choice for many local learners. A signiﬁcant proportion (over one third), in line with the university mission to provide access to all, are commuting students, including those from non-traditional backgrounds. UCLan is a large university with a strong emphasis on applied learning and preparation for the workplace, the employability and enterprise agenda has shaped the development of learning spaces and creativity in the curriculum. Furthermore, UCLan’s strong proﬁle within the region includes many graduates who remain in the region
Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
throughout their working lives. This body of alumni includes those who provide core services across the region and therefore have a commitment to lifelong learning, inclusivity and core shared values. This is not only of beneﬁt to the university community and individual students, but also to the region.
New geography of learning There is a new geography of learning. The economic and political geography above is parallel with changing physical geography and social geographies. The spaces and communities for learning are rapidly changing. In an interconnected and interactive world, students no longer envisage learning as being conﬁned to classrooms or libraries. With a plethora of resources and information constantly at their ﬁngertips and accessible 24 hours a day from any location, learners do not need to necessarily even timetable their learning. What they need to learn is changing too. Whilst professions still require elements of rote learning, the proportion of this is lessening as students can locate information readily without the need for memorising such information. The learning shifts from ‘what’ to ‘how’. Learners need to discriminate between the quality of information and how to apply and use it, to understand the difference between information and education. Tutors increasingly need to teach this type of differentiation between sources, curate information for their students, teach them about reliability and expose students to problem-solving challenges. There is also a need to contemplate generational differences in the student population as they are considered to exhibit differences in terms of values and attitudes as well as possible different approaches to learning. The student body is not singular, it is multiple with differentiated learning needs and learning spaces need to accommodate diversity of need and of experience. On-line learning, coproduction of learning, ﬂipped classroom and virtual learning experiences form just a part of the evolving learning landscape. That is not to say that the traditional notion of a learning space has irrevocably changed. Learners still need to occupy the spaces which allow them to collaborate, communicate and build rapport. They need the soft skills of social connection and a degree of resilience and emotional intelligence. They need spaces where simulations can take place so that new skills can be practised and new knowledge applied in a safe space where mistakes result in learning and not difﬁcult economic or social consequences. Widening participation is not just about enabling a learner to locate themselves in a higher education learning space, it is also about enabling them to fully function in that space, to have an inclusive, equitable
Introduction: the context of HE in the UK
experience where all students can ﬂourish, not just on the programme but in the careers which follow, fully prepared to meet the demands of the workplace. In order to achieve this type of ﬂuid, responsive, inclusive learning environment it has prompted a focus on people, pedagogy and places, that requires the intertwining of different strategies – digital pedagogies, an inclusive teaching and learning strategy, creative innovation and a collaborative approach to building a learning community.
References BBC. (1999) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/292504.stm (Accessed 28/09/18). Butcher, V., Smith, J., Kettle, J. et al. (2011) Review of Good Practice in Employability and Enterprise Development by Centres of Excellence in Teaching and Learning. New York: Higher Education. Centre for Advancement of Interprofessional Education. (2012) www.caipe.org/ Dearing Report. (1997) National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education. London: Dept of Education. GovUK. (2017) Teaching Excellence Framework. www.gov.uk/government/news/ universities-rated-in-teaching-excellence-framework. Dept of Education. London: GovUK. Guardian. (2017) www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/28/almost-half-ofall-young-people-in-england-go-on-to-higher-education HEFCE. (2017) National Student Survey. www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/nss/ Leeson, P. (2011) Trial by Battle. Journal of Legal Analysis 3(1). Northern Powerhouse. (2018) https://northernpowerhouse.gov.uk/devolution/ NUS/QAA. (2012) Student Experience Research 2012. www.nus.org.uk/Page Files/12238/2012_NUS_QAA_Independent_Learning_and_Contact_Hours.pdf Ofﬁce for Students. (2018) www.ofﬁceforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance /skills-and-employment/apprenticeships/ Shapin, S. and Schaffer, S. (1985) Leviathan and the Air Pump. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Press Spelt, E.J.H., Biemans, H.J.A., Tobi, H. et al. (2009) Teaching and Learning in Interdisciplinary Higher Education: A Systematic Review. Educational Psychology Review 21: 365. doi.org/10.1007/s10648-009-9113-z Universities UK. (2015) www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/our-work-in-parliament/Docu ments/graduates-skills-jobs.pdf University of Central Lancashire. (2017) Learning and Teaching Strategy: Student Access, Experience and Success. Preston: UCLan. Well North. (2018) www.wellnorth.co.uk/ Williams, R. and Cochrane, A. (2010) The Role of Higher Education in Social and Cultural Transformation. London: Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, The Open University.
Collaborative education Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
Society faces some complex and interrelated challenges, including the socalled ‘wicked problems’ that require a consolidated and collective effort to search for solutions. As economic challenges, increasingly diverse contexts and austerity persist, the need for organisations to work collaboratively to uncover such solutions becomes more and more imperative. This is recognised by the Royal Society who argue that collaborative working is essential for contemporary working. The cultural shift towards advocating co-operation, collaboration and joint working is mirrored in the structures that measure excellence in higher education, such as the Research Excellence Framework (HEFCE, 2017) and the Teaching Excellence Framework (Ofﬁce for Students 2018), both of which encourage interdisciplinary working, Therefore, collective working and working in partnership with stakeholders is increasingly being seen as one of the measures or indicators of effective education as advocated by professional bodies. Many of the major challenges that society faces today will require solutions developed through interdisciplinary research and cross disciplinary collaboration. Improving support for, and addressing the barriers to this work could contribute to major scientiﬁc breakthroughs at the interface of disciplines, develop new technologies and ultimately support the economy and develop novel solutions to societal challenges. (The Royal Society, 2015) The concept of working across multiple disciplines and doing so collaboratively is not new. Interprofessional education is a requirement of the professional statutory regulatory bodies in health, medicine and social care, and is deﬁned as: ‘occasions when two or more professionals learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care’ (Centre for Advancement of Interprofessional Education, CAIPE,
2017). However, working together within a single curriculum but across multiple disciplines can prove to be problematic for universities. The structure of institutions in faculties and schools or colleges is predicated on the specialisms within disciplines. They are designed to create centres or communities of particular expertise, where resources can be shared. They also assist students in adopting an identity related to their subject or discipline, as they are constantly in proximity to students with similar interests and aspirations. Students within speciﬁc faculties may also have similar backgrounds and career trajectories. For many decades the boundaries between subjects was regarded as unproblematic as employers primarily valued knowledge acquisition. Specialism and the separation of subjects made it easier to demonstrate subject-related excellence to employers and industry, via the assurance of ‘good departments’ that can be measured according to their qualities in teaching, knowledge application or research. However, employers are increasingly privileging an additional range of skills: communication, team-working, resilience, project management, problem solving and decision making. These could be identiﬁed as cross-cutting skills. However, the structures that enable the formation of a clear subject identity can also make it problematic for students to work across disciplines. Generally difﬁculties occur around identifying synergies in the curriculum, identifying timetable space, and resourcing group work. Overcoming these constraints requires a clear belief in the beneﬁts of collaboration and a strategy which uncovers collaborative elements and supports cross-disciplinary working.
Deﬁning collaboration Interprofessional education (IPE) is deﬁned as professional groups working together, and generally refers to Health, Medicine and Social Care. Organisations such as CAIPE and European groups such as EIPEN (European Interprofessional Education Network) exist to recognise and support the importance of embedding IPE. Interdisciplinary education (IDE) includes a broader range of disciplines working across traditional boundaries, in what could be initially viewed as unusual subject combinations or uncommon associations. This underpins the interconnectedness of the contemporary world, as boundaries between subjects become permeable and new areas that evolve the old demarcations are less ﬁxed. Collaborative education can be described in relation to its key characteristics as well as by the type of disciplines or professions which are involved. Multidisciplinary approaches are often seen as contexts in which disciplines work collectively, and the aim is for each discipline to provide an explanation of each issue from its own position or viewpoint.
12 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg Interdisciplinary education uses approaches in which explanations are considered from a range of viewpoints, leading to an integrated overview, a new collective way of seeing. Conversely, transdisciplinary educational approaches seek to dissolve the traditional boundaries between disciplines considering real world issues within a new framework and creating a new disciplinary perspective in the process. In terms of creating learning spaces, for pragmatic reasons it is more straightforward to focus on the former approach in UK higher education, even though the arguments for the latter are compelling. This is partly because of syllabus and curriculum constraints (particularly on programmes where professional bodies stipulate speciﬁc requirements), and also because discipline identity is still key to programmes and courses. It could be argued that it is easier to work in transdisciplinary ways when one already has a sense of oneself and conﬁdence in one’s own disciplinary knowledge enabling the conﬁdence to step outside of traditional constraints. The counter argument, however, would be that if we continue to deliver education in the ways it has always been delivered, then undergraduate education will not change, i.e. ‘if we do what we have always done, then we will get what we have always got’. Interdisciplinary education (IDE), and the creation of learning spaces that facilitate it, form the beginning of a change towards a more radical approach to higher education. That is to say, that students learning from each other and about each other’s disciplines represents a signiﬁcant change as an emerging approach underpinning contemporary teaching and learning. Whilst there have always been examples of students learning about other disciplines through specialist lectures (such as in liberal arts programmes where students learn about multiple disciplines), and teaching between disciplines is not new, students learning together in an interdisciplinary way is a more recent development within higher education.
Connectivity Connectivity is gaining prominence as a desirable graduate characteristic. Research demonstrates that interdisciplinary work can help students in developing their emotional competencies (Pertegal-Felices et al., 2017). Centres for employability and enterprise within higher education seek to ensure that students position themselves in a positive space to make connections which will enhance rather than detract from a professional proﬁle. To assist students in doing this, such centres include guidance on the use of professional media platforms and networking events. Workbased learning is about connection, as well as gaining experience and the networking opportunities with which students are encouraged to engage.
Collaborative education 13 Alongside these things, students are encouraged to think about their current connections on social media in a professional context, thus curating their social media presence and taking care to ensure that their on-line identity is coherent with their career aspirations. Part of creating a contemporary student experience is in providing spaces for students to easily network, both inside and outside of the curriculum. This can be through the provision of ‘social spaces’, in which students can easily mix with students from other programmes and make connections. In a widening participation university, it is important that some of these spaces are unhitched from food outlets or shopping spaces, as students need to feel that they can remain in communal spaces without the requirement to spend money. Creating commerce-free social spaces is an important step in fostering a culture of inclusivity and equality. Such spaces need to be accessible to all, and should naturally be open and inviting. These are spaces for learning that students use for reading, discussion or informal meetings. They are spaces speciﬁcally designed for learning social skills, i.e. learning about social interactions, conversation and conﬁdence; skills which are so central to widening participation, moving beyond merely widening access. The provision of such spaces is part of a strategy towards a collaborating campus. A truly collaborating campus creates spaces and places where communities can develop, and where the multiple cultures of a university can be rendered visible. Connectivity can also be encouraged by creating opportunities for staff to get to know each other. This occurs within departments as staff work across programmes and work in proximity to one another, but it is important to enable this connectivity across a wider campus parameter. Staff are more likely to encourage their students to collaborate with each other if they are able to lead by example and collaborate with other staff. In doing so they will encourage the development of a community which is not bounded by discipline. Special interest groups such as Arts and Health Networks and Medical Humanities groups help with this, but they are not the only operational factors. The encouragement to create crosscutting groups centred on shared activities such as ‘creativity in the curriculum’, ‘resilience’, ‘cultural awareness’, ‘reﬂective practice’ or ‘professionalism’ are also beneﬁcial to this process. The co-creation of programmes and resources enables staff to model the collaboration that they seek to inspire in their students. This type of collaboration does not need to be bounded within one university; the Teaching Excellence Alliance (TEA, 2018) has run ‘sandpit’ events that stimulate collaboration between universities, based on curriculum design and co-design, using a model which fundamentally is based upon models of shared ownership. Within the university, co-design of a curriculum includes multiple parties such as
14 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg service users, stakeholders and the third sector. With a connected approach, a prevalence of learning spaces within the community and work-based placements, and also transient, ‘pop-up’ learning spaces based within projects; collaborations and contributions to existing initiatives are more readily seen. A University of Central Lancashire example of a hospital-based project on dementia awareness became a learning space for community and students, and later relocated to another NHS Trust, with the potential to form an exhibition. The learning spaces likewise morphed and transformed as the project evolved.
A strategy for collaboration Although culture is of key importance, strategy is the framework in which collaboration is enabled to thrive. In determining a strategy for learning and teaching, the creation of learning opportunities across and between disciplines was actively encouraged. The learning and teaching strategy of the University of Central Lancashire is predicated on PLACE, which takes in pedagogy, environment, accessibility, curriculum and employability criteria (UCLan, 2017). Each of these areas lend themselves to the potential for use within the arena of collaborative education, but the challenges of achieving high levels of collaborative practice are also signiﬁcant. Collaboration requires academic staff to innovate in terms of: creating a curriculum that is appropriate for a more mixed group, addressing the administrative challenges of interdisciplinary working (that can be time consuming and frustrating at times) and moving out of their own comfort zone, which can leave some staff feeling exposed. There are many beneﬁts for those who engage in collaborative education, including the creation of new connections, new insights into learning and teaching, and the exchange of knowledge and creativity. Some staff have commented that the process reminded them of the interdisciplinary working experiences from their previous occupational and industrial lives, which they had missed in the education sector. Working collectively also results in increased cross-disciplinary engagement with research. To many people, interdisciplinary work is seen as ‘shared learning’, and this is often the starting point when considering where to locate IDE in the curriculum. Shared learning is interpreted as being taught together, alongside other disciplines. Interdisciplinary working, however, is more than this, involving learning between students. An interesting approach would be to consider not what is being taught at any given point, but rather to focus on what is being learned. ‘Shared learning’ has a tendency, despite its title, to focus on curriculum content. Whilst this can be very helpful, IDE focuses on the process as well as the
Collaborative education 15 outcome, and so has a much broader ﬁeld of application. This brings the teaching activities sharply into focus, considering what the students are speciﬁcally learning by being together in a learning space. Thus, the opportunity to explore both ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’, and to practise skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving are foregrounded. That is not to say that content is not important, but content should not be forced; it is not helpful to try to fabricate case studies that address every aspect of the backgrounds of the students involved. Content should ideally provide the space in which to recognise the contribution and perspective of different disciplines. This approach enables students to acknowledge that the solutions to intractable, so called ‘wicked’, problems require drawing on the disciplinary and personal strengths of a variety of individual team members. One of the characteristics of a good collaborative learning space is that it is non-hierarchical. It is important that one group is not perceived as being invited in to the learning space to meet the needs of another. This is a cultural issue, and is about acknowledging equitability between courses, programmes and students. Therefore, the learning in IDE needs to be meaningful for all the participants in the group or session. They may not always be focusing on the same things. For example, in a collaboration with fashion and medicine in which anatomical models were being constructed for use in patient teaching, the medical students’ focus was on explaining anatomy to someone new to the subject and simplifying complex concepts, whilst the fashion elements focused on keeping to a brief regarding cost and time and advising on the use of materials to ensure a degree of realism in the function. These discipline speciﬁc elements were different depending on the ﬁeld of study for each series of students in the session, but the shared learning outcomes were around negotiation, problem solving and communication. All students were engaged in one problem-solving scenario, despite having very different goals and perspectives as to solutions. IDE can play a part in the pursuit of teaching excellence. Necessitating, as it does, academic staff from different disciplines working together in curriculum design and in joint teaching, there is a huge potential for the cross-fertilisation of teaching methods to occur. This is exacerbated by the fact that staff participants are focusing on the teaching rather than the subject. Staff report that they have trialled different approaches within their own subject areas as a direct result of engagement with IDE. This is not just conﬁned to teaching; approaches to technology, assessment and the way in which different subjects manage course administration are also shared. One of the interesting elements of IDE is how it provides a learning space for staff as well as students (Gurbutt and Milne, 2019).
16 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg There is a capacity for informal peer review when colleagues from different disciplines work alongside one another. One of the characteristics of this informal activity is that it is predicated on teaching methods rather than content, so staff are not evaluating what is being taught as much as how it is being taught, and thus this frees individuals from the constraints of subject disciplines in providing feedback. Secondly, such peer review inverts the focus from assessing the performance of the teacher to considering instead what can be learned from their teaching approach. This seems to be a generally helpful way to consider collective peer review, as it shifts the focus from performance to co-learning. It is also useful to work with peers in order to understand more comprehensively what works well in teaching and learning settings and why this is the case. Co-creation is an inherent feature of IDE by deﬁnition; no single person has expertise in all aspects of the content or learning, so programmes are developed by negotiation, mutual understanding and a focus on the needs of the different learner groups. Co-creating learning between academic staff from different disciplines enables the active involvement of other groups too. For example, nursing has a long tradition of service user and stakeholder engagement in curriculum design due to the nature of the subject and professional body requirements; working alongside colleagues in nursing has resulted in colleagues from other disciplines involving these groups in their curriculum design. Student feedback is also crucial in developing IDE, in order to understand the lived experience of students in the sessions. Therefore, IDE creates a different and additional space for students to work as partners in curriculum design. Interestingly IDE has led to students from one discipline being part of the ‘student voice’ in the validation of programmes in a different discipline, meeting the panel and participating in focus groups, accentuating the cross-fertilisation of approaches and the student experiences of the end result.
Technology-enhanced learning team Learning spaces are no longer just physical rooms. Students increasingly demand accessible and responsive learning opportunities that are tailored to their needs and are contemporary in design. Creating these spaces to support or deliver learning is perhaps one of the most rapid areas of development in contemporary Western education. An on-line learning environment cannot develop in isolation from the culture in which it is located. As on-line learning spaces continue to evolve apace it is imperative that they translate the culture of the institution to an on-line experience and that the on-line accessibility pervades the development and practice of campus based learning.
Collaborative education 17 In a context where students are customers, purchasing education at a signiﬁcant cost, it is increasingly important that learning products are perceived as being of high value. One of the key messages to send to students is one that will enable them to understand that tuition fees contribute not only to the provision of lectures, but also to the infrastructure of learning that supports this type of tuition, whether it is on-line or in physical spaces. The ‘team behind good teaching’ needs to be rendered visible to the learner, and this includes a range of staff from academic developers, administration, library specialists and learning technologists. This process entails developing a collective culture that recognises, acknowledges, and appreciates difference. It is about creating learning environments in which the skills of those supporting good teaching are seen as important, and in which excellent teachers and those who aspire to excellence receive consistent and appropriate support. Such a culture enables innovation to ﬂow in two directions, innovations and suggestions from, technologists and others accompanied by innovation from academic staff to technologists. However, it is important to note that technology is not the driver; pedagogy drives education, and technology should not be used as an end in itself. Pedagogic conversations should begin with the focus on learning needs and how best to facilitate them rather than shoehorning technology into programmes. With the correct collaborative approach, the synergy between technology and pedagogy leads to distinctiveness in terms of innovation, the embedding of good practice, and creating a culture of excellence in support for all students, but which particularly meets the needs of students with speciﬁc learning needs. The core beneﬁts of a technology-enhanced learning team is in the approach to collaboration in teaching preparation, sharing of good practice and development of communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991). Just as students can learn in multiple places and spaces, so academic staff and others supporting learning can work collaboratively in virtual spaces. The mobility and accessibility of learning platforms for staff has a direct correlation to the rapid expansion in collaborative sharing and learning between staff. It is this ‘backstage’, or behind the scenes work, to borrow from Goffman (1959), which is important in enabling the collaboration that impacts the learning environment (Gurbutt and Williams, 2018). The challenge when creating and evolving learning spaces on-line or with online support is the imperative to keep consolidation and innovation in balance, so that there is continuity as well as change. That is not to say that challenges do not persist; one of the key areas for on-line learning is to truly equate the ELearning experience with the campus experience. This is relatively easy to achieve in terms of quality teaching and good learning environments – feedback has demonstrated that on-line learning
18 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg communities in education can be just as, if not more, relational than traditional modes of learning (Gurbutt et al., 2019). But for the creation of online identities, and to enable collaborations and a cohesive student identity, the narratives around shared experiences, such as a ‘welcome week’ and ‘student support’ mechanisms need to recognise and reﬂect that not all students are physically present on a campus. Balancing the two entities of the on-campus and off-campus student is not without difﬁculty.
Networks Collaborative education encompasses a recognition that there are multiple differences: differences in subject specialism and expertise, differences in approaches to teaching and learning, and differences in skills. In order to create appropriate learning environments, either online or in physical spaces, requires a focus on an inclusive curriculum. As learning spaces evolve to become more engaged with technology it is important to understand where students may ﬁnd themselves excluded. In contemporary society most learners are perceived to be competent and conﬁdent to engage with technology. However, this might not be the case for some learners; a study of mature nursing students revealed that a signiﬁcant number experienced anxiety at the level of ICT competence required at the outset of a professional course (Gurbutt and McPhail, 2019). Therefore, inclusivity in skill acquisition, in conﬁdence, and in opportunity to become innately competent, is a feature in providing equitable learning environments. This extends the notion of creating a learning environment to the meta-learning which is also required for engagement. To be enabled to engage in a shared learning space is to have experienced the underpinning learning and acquire the skills which are required for such engagement. Curriculum should also carefully reﬂect the students and the diversity of the population. In creating places to learn, students should be able to connect with the environment, to be able to see ‘themselves’ in the curriculum whether by disciplinary or demographic background, and feel conﬁdent that their learning needs are being met. Networks include the industrial connections and inﬂuences on the curriculum that enable learning environments to be devised which recreate real world issues. This may incorporate elements of simulation. In a recent IDE programme between medical, nursing and pharmacy students the comments included: ‘the simulation was so real, I forgot that I was in a classroom, I was so involved in the scenario’ (Gurbutt and Milne, 2018). Part of the reality of this scenario was the interdisciplinary nature of the session.
Collaborative education 19
Hidden curriculum Learning occurs both by intention and unintentionally. The learning outcomes of collaborative learning sessions are hopefully achieved within the session to the beneﬁt of all participants and the staff involved. However, collaboration which does not have a strong value base, which is not well prepared and which becomes hierarchical, runs the risk of reinforcing elements or attitudes that are problematic; therefore, it is essential that collaborative learning elements are well planned and organised. This can be a challenge as IDE is an additional activity which is not universally recognised in workload. Whilst paying attention to the learning outcomes and what it is anticipated students will learn it is also interesting to note other aspects of their learning. This may include the challenging of a perception or stereotype they hold about another group or discipline, or a new insight into a role or context. Skills acquisition and feedback from other students (and staff) outside their own discipline are often useful to learners as they are generally uncoupled from judgements about their own discipline area. Social conﬁdence is one of the areas in which students feel that they develop through IDE, although they are often initially very reluctant to leave the comparative safety of working with familiar students to work across disciplines. But this ability to gain rapport and quickly establish new teams is a key skill for the workplace. Some cohorts and disciplines are less socially diverse than other groups and IDE can provide a mechanism for widening social experience and extending existing networks. This has also been the case when working across cohorts that include a greater number of international students. There are some surprising elements too; evaluations in one study indicated that medical students prefer learning to be assessed and asked if they could ‘have an exam’ in IDE, a sentiment which was not shared by the other professions they were working alongside (Gurbutt and Milne, 2019). This highlights the clear cultural differences between groups and provides interesting contextual information on student perceptions (differing as they might be) on what constitutes a good student experience. The hidden curriculum often throws up some surprising ﬁndings. One IDE session was inadvertently attended by two students from a completely different background who found themselves in the wrong learning space but decided to stay. The session they unintentionally attended was on ‘mental health’ and they ﬁlled in the evaluation at the end, conveying that they found it extremely informative and ‘useful’ and for one of them it was by their own admission ‘life changing in helping me to understand a family member.’ Whilst perhaps not recommended as
20 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg a suggested course of action, the feedback does suggest that incidental learning can be extremely beneﬁcial, and that ‘thinking outside the box’ could be very useful for learners. Some programmes within a university enjoy a high ratio of international students. At the University of Central Lancashire the newly conﬁgured medical school initially began with international cohorts of students. When working collaboratively it became apparent from the outset that in addition to other skills and knowledge, cohorts working alongside medicine were also learning about healthcare in international settings and multicultural perspectives on health. This type of learning animates the topic and it becomes less about theoretical understanding and more about understanding a lived experience. Evaluating this unseen beneﬁt of collaborative work with medicine highlighted the opportunities for identifying other learning areas which might not have been pre-considered (Gurbutt and Milne, 2018). Some areas are not subject speciﬁc, but are common across the lived experience of all students. Themes like resilience are cross-cutting, and have the capacity to be shared across multiple perspectives. Co-creation of resources to support collaborative working provide insights into different aspects of a topic, alternative strategies and solutions, and access to additional resources. This type of cross-fertilisation has a synergistic effect, which multiplies the impact and effect of learning experiences. A reputation for collaborative working has led to invitations to engage with external projects involving students from a number of faculties and schools. One example was a dementia awareness project for a local trust, comprising a conference, visual displays and an exhibition. By involving health, medicine and creative arts subjects the initiative enabled students to experience how boundaries are not ﬁxed in practice and that the service user or customer beneﬁts strongly from a ﬂexible approach to creativity and problem solving. Using complementary skills, students developed a strong appreciation for each other’s knowledge and skills, and an understanding of the shared aspects of their experience. These could be considered as aspects of the hidden curriculum or the unintended consequences of learning.
Unintended consequences of learning collaboratively One of the features of collaborative learning is the way in which individual learning cultures which exist within disciplines can be challenged or shared. This allows for good practice to be shared, and creates a space in which colleagues can present options and alternatives for teaching modes. Working together, colleagues gain an increased awareness of the focus on
Collaborative education 21 learning and what it is that they want their students to learn. There might be different outcomes for different students, but nonetheless there will also be shared elements and cross-cutting themes. Students become aware of how the same concepts may be described slightly differently in different disciplines, and therefore become accustomed to how to articulate concepts to a wider audience. Students become more aware of their own skills and knowledge and gain conﬁdence in their own identity as subject specialists. They also learn that assessment as a practice is not the only arbiter of importance, and interestingly, some students ﬁnd it difﬁcult to value that which is not formally assessed. This is in one way an indicator of how educational practices drive educational culture, and of how collaborative work enables students the space to explore and ascribe value to other areas of learning. This is a key facet of learning to appreciate diversity in teams and ultimately in the work place. Social conﬁdence is enabled to grow and develop in an environment where they are able to assert their professional identity.
Beneﬁts of collaborative education Collaborative education provides a space for students and their educators to work together, to increase the range of peer support available to them, and to extend the connections and links that will be useful postgraduation. This is particularly important for students from a widening participation background who may not have had the opportunity to be part of extensive networks prior to coming to university. Collaborative education also has beneﬁts for staff, providing a conduit for sharing skills, celebrating excellence and enhancing employability elements within the curriculum. It supports the critical review of programme development and curriculum design by creating the space for an ongoing dialogue between subjects rather than just considering other perspectives and viewpoints at traditional quality assurance junctures such as validation or course approval events. Collaboration increases the sense of community, as individual staff work across boundaries and are interconnected in the institution, leading to shared projects, a co-operative culture and a better understanding of different perspectives whilst amplifying good practice.
References CAIPE (Centre for Advancement of Interprofessional Education). (2017) Retrieved from www.caipe.org/ Goffman, E. (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin.
22 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg Gurbutt, D.J. and McPhail, L. (2019) ‘Logging On’ or ‘Locked Out’ the ICT Experience of Mature, Female Learners on a Professional Nursing Programme. INTED Conference, Spain. Published proceedings. Gurbutt, D.J. and Milne, P. (2018) The Path to Transformation: Navigating the Barriers to Forming Transient and Transitional Learning Groups in Inter professional Education. INTED Conference, Spain. Published proceedings. Gurbutt, D.J. and Milne, P. (2019) Transformational Learning: Integrated Education for Integrated Care and Services. INTED Conference, Spain. Published proceedings. Gurbutt, D.J. and Williams, K. (2018) Performing Good Teaching: The Frontstage and Backstage Work of Interdisciplinary Working. INTED Conference, Valencia, Spain. Published proceedings. Gurbutt, R., Smith, B., Gurbutt, D.J., Duckworth, J. and Partington, H. (2019) Socially Immersive Learning: A New Pedagogy. INTED Conference, Spain. Published proceedings. HEFCE. (2017) Retrieved from https://re.ukri.org/research/research-excellenceframework-ref/ Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ofﬁce for Students. (2018) Retrieved from www.unialliance.ac.uk/teachingexcellence-alliance/ Pertegal-Felices, M.L., Marcos-Jorquera, D., Gilar-Corbi, R. and Jimeno-Rorenilla, A. (2017) Development of Emotional Skills through Interdisciplinary Practices Integrated into a University Curriculum. Education Research International, 2017, Article ID 6089859. The Royal Society. (2015) Response to the British Academy’s Call for Evidence on ‘Interdisciplinarity’. Retrieved from https://royalsociety.org/~/media/policy/ Publications/2015/29-06-15-rs-response-to-ba-inquiry-interdisciplinarity.pdf Teaching Excellence Alliance (TEA). (2018) Retrieved from https://www.unialli ance.ac.uk/teaching-excellence-alliance/ University of Central Lancashire. (2017) Learning and Teaching Strategy: Student Access, Experience and Success. Preston: UCLan.
Creativity, community and curriculum Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
Higher education (HE) institutions are cornerstones of their communities, often with long histories within a region, either as traditionally established universities or institutions which evolved from other learning organisations (UCLan 2018). Recently the higher education sector has begun to pay increased attention to the role of the university as an institution within a community and the impact that higher education institutions (HEI) have on the locality in which they are situated. This leads to consideration of the concept of community and whether a university ‘community’ is multiple or singular, particularly where there may be multiple, dispersed campuses and international campuses, franchises and partnerships. Nowadays universities also have vibrant on-line and digital communities. This chapter explores what it means to be a community of staff and learners embedded within the wider community of the neighbourhoods and geographical locations in which they are situated and also the impact of the community of alumni spread across the globe. It considers what it means to be ‘creative’ and to have structures which enable creativity to ﬂourish, not only in those who consider themselves to be creative, but also those who uncover and unleash their creativity, sometime unintentionally, in their quest to share knowledge and inspire students. The learning and teaching strategy within a university is an important expression of priorities, values and culture. At the University of Central Lancashire the strategy has ﬁve pillars: student access, experience and success (2017) identiﬁed as the PLACE to study. The acronym relates to ﬁve thematic areas of the strategy: excellent Pedagogy, inspiring Learning environment, Accessible learning and assessment, innovative and sustainable Curriculum and Employability and enterprise. The strategy is founded upon the desire to ‘develop students as self-sufﬁcient, engaged, creative and enterprising global citizens who will be active in their communities and attain the knowledge, understanding, qualiﬁcations, attributes and skills for employment and enterprise.’ Inherent in this is the understanding that
24 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg creativity matters in preparing students for the challenges of global, interconnected workplaces. One of the challenges is to capture the essence of creativity across different types of curricula and then translate this into a creative approach to education and learning.
Creativity ‘Creativity’ is a term which is currently frequently mentioned in relation to higher education. It is used to describe different aspects of education, from moving away from ‘traditional’ lecture style teaching sessions to arranging different spaces and modes to support or promote learning. Being creative in education relates to multiple aspects of the learning experience. This encompasses creativity in terms of approach: such as using technology, ﬂipped classroom and virtual learning environments (Gurbutt and Gurbutt, 2015a). There is creativity in modes: such as distance learning, blended learning and Elearning. There is also creativity in the context of content covering issues such as: co-creation of material or working with students as partners; using visual modes for learning or incorporating ‘creative subjects’ into learning spaces for other disciplines. There is creativity in relation to teaching modes, using gamiﬁcation, simulation, graphic design or cross-fertilisation of teaching methods between subjects and discipline. Creative assessment focuses on considering how best to test knowledge, and fundamentally which types of knowledge need to be tested and assessed. Further areas of creativity relate to work with stakeholders and industry to formulate real world experiences for students, work based learning, placements and community engagement. Learning spaces are an important element in fostering creativity in the curriculum, with ﬂexibility, student-centredness and collaborative learning spaces providing a positive, accessible environment in which to learn. Other areas can be creatively revised and reframed to support the learning environment including timetabling strategies, compression of teaching terms, extra curricula learning, work based learning opportunities and stronger links with employability. The higher education response to creativity has been to think about some key sites or areas in which it can be enabled to ﬂourish. Learning and teaching strategies may focus on the student experience, but in providing a good learning experience attention should be given to key components such as: people, places and pedagogy. One of the ways in which creativity can be encouraged is by facilitating mobile working and connectivity between staff. Investment in portable technology, universality of devices and providing the same suite of software programmes can enable staff to be creative in lesson planning, collaboration and technological support.
Creativity, community and curriculum
Devices are only one part of a creative strategy; it is important to ensure that each member of academic staff has access to the same technology and the bespoke and central training packages that enable them to use it effectively and well. This requires an investment in training and support, but also in an associated cultural shift, which could both include the use of collaborative applications, themed groups, communities of practice and workshops. A pedagogic focus requires the lens through which curriculum is designed and delivered to be around educationally driven considerations pertinent to the individual higher education institutes. It is important that technology is not utilised just because it is available, but because its use is linked to enhancement of student experience. Technology should not be the driver: innovation should be driven by selecting the most appropriate technology to support teaching excellence rather than seeking opportunities to use a new application. Creativity in places, be they learning spaces online or ﬂuid, transformable classroom spaces, is about creating positive environments for learning which are inclusive, accessible and stimulating. This requires a blend of physical spaces, technological support and institutional culture. The bringing together of these three threads, people, places and pedagogy is central to sharing creativity across institutions. The creation of creative spaces owes much to a culture and a mind-set emerging from person centred approaches. Wenger and Lave (1991) raised awareness of situated learning and the existence of communities of practice. Creative approaches ﬂourish in a culture that enables staff to form communities. Historically many higher education institutes are short on communal staff spaces, but digital learning communities supported by devices can enable staff within a university to connect, share and collaborate. ‘Social spaces’ are important in building a community and creating opportunities for collaboration. They can offer small areas and pods for staff and students alike to socialise, to hold informal meetings and meet colleagues from other disciplines. A modern university requires space for connection that does not require an invitation, and that is open and inclusive. Meetings that come out of ofﬁces and into shared spaces provide an opportunity for wider connections and broader reach. Open spaces which can be accessed and joined by any interested member of staff also provide a place for people to ﬁnd their own ‘communities’ to join, which may be far wider than their geographical location on campus or their own discipline. There are of course some potential drawbacks to open spaces, there are potential issues relating to privacy and conﬁdentiality of discussions in unconﬁned spaces. Whilst open spaces present the opportunity for inclusivity, there is a need to avoid the formation of cliques which can be exclusive by practice if not by design.
26 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg Creativity is a cultural issue and can be enabled or stiﬂed by institutional policy or leadership styles. Institutions that foster connectivity and enable staff to share, experiment and learn from one another maximise the opportunity. Creative spaces and creativity need to be recognised: learning and teaching conferences, case studies shared in preparatory teaching programmes for staff, modelling creativity in workshops and presentations, internal recognition, blogs, networks and cross-disciplinary groups, all enable creativity to be acknowledged, valued and ampliﬁed. Turning creativity into innovation and change is not always easy. The Kubler-Ross Change Curve (Elrod and Tippett, 2002; Kubler-Ross and Kessler, 2005) recognises the transition from denial through to acceptance and integration. For example, new learning spaces providing mobile and ﬂexible furniture creates an environment for creativity, but does not in itself lead to creativity. Altering the space without changing the way space is used can be problematic. Providing mobile and ﬂexible furniture without providing staff with the skills or equipment to use the space can result in some arguing that the new conﬁgurations of furniture are not appropriate for their style of teaching and therefore not ﬁt for purpose. For others changes in rooms and furniture can be the stimulus to re-visioning teaching activity and consideration of where attention should be focused within sessions, questioning whether the communal act of visualising one board or screen is as important to the totality of sessions as it used to be. Changing learning spaces highlights the importance of linking change to pedagogy and student experience, ensuring that staff concerns and considerations are taken into account and that the teaching community makes the journey alongside management. Authenticity is important, as is understanding where the exceptions are to a wholesale change and how best to accommodate them. Listening to subject specialists and academic developers is key to successful change. This recognition extends beyond the classroom: social spaces are in themselves creative spaces and the impact of wide airy social spaces on staff connections can be signiﬁcant. Coffee shops and restaurants tend to locate staff meetings around natural breaks such as lunch and coffee, whereas in different social spaces meetings occur across and within the working day. This type of cultural shift values and validates connections between staff and the importance of knowing each other. On-line collaborative spaces can also form part of the cultural shift, enabling staff greater freedom to connect, collaborate and engage: activities which lead to innovation. Narrative and language are important too. The careful selection of words and language are key to a positive message. Staff perceptions of change, their ‘change narratives’ can sometimes be expressed in the
Creativity, community and curriculum
language of resistance, reluctance and coercion. A common narrative within organisations is that: ‘they’, whoever ‘they’ may be, have decided or decreed the change being proposed and ‘we’ are required to comply. This is a problematic culture as it has the potential to leak into interactions with students with comments such as: ‘I don’t like this either.’ It is important to allow the positivity which co-exists to shape narratives. Senior managers can aid this process through transparent decision making articulated through the shared endeavour relating to experience, feedback, best practice, evidence base for change; and also by acknowledging areas of difﬁculty and sharing a discourse of change as a process rather than an event. Altering one area, such as creating ﬂexible learning spaces and providing tools and resources to maximise creativity, places the focus on other areas and how these might also need to change and adapt within a shifting landscape of education. Revision and renewal of physical learning spaces can lead to increased attention to on-line learning spaces. Digital learning is not just about formal learning on-line, but also about being part of an on-line community which is tailored to the needs of remote and distance learners. Attention to community is key across the whole of the institution and connecting in shared spaces can be a stimulus for consideration of how other spaces can be opened up and shared, for example considering how classrooms predicated on one discipline can become more open to interdisciplinary working and also considering how learning spaces can facilitate the sharing of best practice between subjects. A further consideration is how boundaries between workplace learning, learning with stakeholders and campus and digital learning can be rendered more permeable. With current shifts in learning approaches comes the increased recognition that degree apprenticeships and other programmes raise the question of how and where people learn most effectively and how that learning can be measured. Other opportunities can emerge through such a cultural shift as activities are reconﬁgured in a new framework, re-considered and reviewed. For example, peer observation is a core component of education, but rather than focusing on reviewing the performance of the ‘teacher’ there could be a more useful way to conﬁgure this based on what the observer learns or how teams support one another in their professional development. Cross disciplinary teaching removes the emphasis from content to teaching approaches and freed up from the constraints of subject, staff are enabled to receive feedback on trialling a new approach or method. An increased focus on informal sharing across disciplines using open, digital spaces and tools can have an impact on sharing more formally. Writing groups which can be run through centres for excellence in
28 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg learning and teaching and cross disciplinary groups can not only share good practice and seed innovation, but can lead to increased collaborative outputs and an increase in outputs around pedagogical approaches and learning and teaching. A collaborative culture, for those who engage with it, enables recognition of excellence and expertise, creates a supportive environment in which to write and present and an increased conﬁdence particularly amongst staff new to teaching.
Learner communities For many universities which focus on widening participation, the student population comprises a signiﬁcant number of non-traditional students, commuting students and mature students. These learners are already part of a regional or local community and expect their university to have an impact on where they live and work. The growth in the commuting student population requires changes to the university campus. These students are equally part of the university community, but have a different requirement of the campus than, for example, a student living in halls of residence. Creating an environment in which students can linger and meet on campus is important. To encourage students to socialise and remain on campus for longer, social spaces include free and accessible activities such as table tennis tables, pianos, card games, places to make a hot drink. Soft seating areas across a campus also encourage students to remain on site between and after taught sessions, hidden gardens and outdoor spaces are also a feature of accessible communal areas. Places to eat without the perceived obligation to purchase food on site are also helpful in a widening access community. Strong relationships with the student union (SU) are central to building a community which is inclusive and equitable. Creating a space for the student voice to be heard, not in a peripheral way, but as a central component is fundamental to shaping the university community. Student union involvement in an active, engaged relationship with the university board, and a strong student voice at strategic committees, consistent engagement with enhancement and design of estate and student services all play a part in developing an inclusive community. Committee names need to reﬂect the emphasis on the student voice and student engagement. Student unions are challenged in representing the whole student body in institutions where many students do not ﬁt the typical school leaver proﬁle. Good student union representation on networks across the university, sustained activity within the wider community and support for local events and regional university events, a charitable presence on the high street in university ‘shop fronts’ and other activities all help to
Creativity, community and curriculum
create an engaged community on campus which connects with the town or city. In many universities with a focus on widening participation a high percentage of students are local to the institution and a large proportion of alumni remain in the locality post-graduation which enables a strong link between university and broader community. Community engagement is an important asset for a connected community enabling students from different courses to work together and directly with third sector partners and on designated project work. This is a growing area of development with multiple beneﬁts, which include work experience and real world experience for students, increased links with the community and also the opportunity to work across disciplines, share learning and build networks. It is interesting to note the ways in which different pedagogic approaches such as interdisciplinarity, creativity and real world approaches can coalesce with a potent synergistic effect on learning. Identifying shared university values can have an impact on the culture of the university and provide fertile ground for community activities which can ﬂourish. At the University of Central Lancashire, a shared value base which included compassion was at the core of the decision to host American University of the Caribbean medical students at the University in Preston, England when a hurricane destroyed part of their campus. This enabled them to continue with their programmes of study (discussed in Chapter 7). This was a major undertaking that involved relocating hundreds of students and their faculty thousands of miles to reconvene their studies in another city. Despite the complicated logistics, the operation was nevertheless highly successful and was based upon a particular expression and experience of community (Guardian, 2017).
Curriculum Central to developing an active, connected community within a university is the way in which curriculum is designed to be inclusive and permeable, allowing students to form networks and work with people from different disciplines and backgrounds to themselves. Spaces and places play a part in the development of an internal community, but so do approaches to curriculum design, provision of student support services, internal participatory events and the privileging of the student voice to ensure that the university is representative of, and focused on the student body it serves. Utilising broader initiatives to support learning can have an effect on enabling pockets of excellence to be more broadly recognised and embedded in practice. An example of this would be where one part of an institution develops an approach or initiative which is taken up by other schools and disciplines; or utilising a resource
30 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg designed for one group more widely across an institution. Adapted from its use in the police service the Hydra Minerva syndicate suite at the University of Central Lancashire was designed to enhance immersive learning on policing courses, but has been effectively used by a number of other disciplines as well as being a hub for emerging interdisciplinary work. Some initiatives are speciﬁcally designed to create an environment in which cross-fertilisation of tools, techniques and approaches enhance the broader curriculum offer. An example of this is the use of expertise from one area to support design, development and innovation in another area. This can be cross sector, creating new designs for learning; to internal processes such as establishing a team to provide support on curriculum design for all programmes undergoing validations or periodic course review. These sorts of initiatives help to ensure that not only do programmes remain ﬁt for purpose, but they develop in line with best practice across the sector. Centres for excellence in learning and teaching and academic developers play a crucial role not only in supporting staff in course design, but ensuring that elements such as employability and enterprise are central to student experience. Working across an organisation increases the opportunity for greater fertilisation of teaching approaches between subject areas. It can also place the emphasis for course review ﬁrmly on pedagogy as well as subject content, considering the contemporary approaches to knowledge and skill acquisition. Interestingly the concept of cross-fertilisation of approaches and innovation has been a feature across the sector, particularly in universities with close links to industry and stakeholders. The Teaching Excellence Alliance trialled the notion of a ‘sandpit’ for curriculum development based around a residential design event (TEA, 2017). The concept was based on creation of a contemporary cross-cutting curriculum to address a social need. The impetus was around bringing together interdisciplinary perspectives to co-create elements of design, delivery and assessment. An insight into practices across the sector was accompanied by a ‘free thinking’ approach to curriculum design, not constrained by the practices of a single institution. Central to the concept is the focus on learning and student experience. Other initiatives can be based on continuous professional development predicated on a more creative approach to learning and teaching. This can involve workshops on creativity, conferences and events focused on collaboration. Technological developments have led to a rise in the use of collaborative IT tools to foster connection and shared learning initiatives. Connectivity tends to result in more creative approaches to assessment as cross-fertilisation of approaches occurs. This has the potential to not only impact the types of assessment using audio and visual means and collective assessment (all of which are features of creative arts subjects more
Creativity, community and curriculum
widely) but also of rethinking the key parameters of assessment and the purposes of assessment. The ground breaking work of the higher education academy/AdvanceHE around the use of assessment labs and constructive alignment is a useful way of conﬁguring the main frameworks for learning and assessment. Engagement with assessment labs can result in a more focused consideration of when assessments should take place in a programme of study and how often students should be assessed, as well as considering the forms the assessments should take and how assessment can contribute to the activity of learning as well as evaluation of learning attainment. Experiential learning is a powerful approach to challenging norms, yet many academics do not have the opportunity to become the learner in the formalised environment of an academic award. Accredited academic development programmes such as the Academic Professional Apprenticeship offer the opportunity to reconﬁgure creatively how academic staff view the curriculum as the apprenticeship programme places emphasis on the skills of curriculum design and curriculum management as well as pedagogy and knowledge. The emphasis on process alongside knowledge is an opportunity to rethink elements of curriculum design and the subsequent impact on student experience. Incorporating different examples of assessment style into the assessments staff undertake on the postgraduate preparatory programmes for learning and teaching can be a useful way to expose staff to the lived experience of different assessment types. The experience of innovation in assessment as a staff learner can act as a stimulus for more creative approaches to assessment and feedback in subsequent teaching. In recent years there has been a normalisation of ‘ﬂipped classroom’ and ‘technology enabled learning’. The former has moved into the mainstream, and a new emphasis on classrooms which can be reconﬁgured to suit learning needs and the easy accessibility of modes such as lecture capture technology which allows the practitioner to record elements of lectures enable this type of learning. A ‘digital shift’ programme at the University of Central Lancashire has an emphasis on ‘people, places and pedagogy’ and has resulted in much closer working between the Technology-Enabled Learning Team (TELT) and the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (see Chapter 4). Learning technologists embedded within faculties can stimulate, support and innovate around the use of technology in learning and assessment. Many institutions enable students to actively shape curriculum, this might be through speciﬁc initiatives, such as co-produced elements of curriculum in science subjects, but also through being able to voice their learning preferences through nomination and award schemes. Learning
32 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg and teaching awards in which students nominate staff for recognition can be successful in acknowledging student voice as well as rewarding staff. Successful nominees can be enabled to share good practice through workshops and presentations organised and disseminated by the student union. Awards need to reﬂect what matters to students and student experience, valuing areas such as positive support, encouragement and pastoral care. Curriculum is also shaped by the input of service users and stakeholders from the community who can be actively encouraged to ensure that curriculum prepares students for the world of work and graduate employability. Curriculum, creativity and community within the environment of a supportive organisation continually interact in the development and maintenance of positive learning environments. A clear consistent curriculum requires the elements which engage, inspire and animate students to not only succeed in the curriculum but to contribute to its future development.
References Elrod, P.D. and Tippett, D.D. (2002) ‘The “Death Valley” of Change’. Journal of Organisational Change Management, 15: 3. Guardian. (2017) www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/02/st-maarten-studentsdisplaced-hurricane-irma-move-university-central-lancashire Gurbutt, D.J. and Gurbutt, R. (2015a) ‘Telling Tales: Creating a Space for Stories in Practitioner Education.’ In Brewer, G. and Hogarth, R. (Eds) Creative Education: Teaching and Learning, Creativity, Engagement and the Student Experience. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Gurbutt, R. and Gurbutt, D.J. (2015b) ‘Learning in Virtual Worlds.’ In Brewer, G. and Hogarth, R. (Eds) Creative Education: Teaching and Learning, Creativity, Engagement and the Student Experience. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Kubler-Ross, E.M. and Kessler, D. (2005) On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. New York; Toronto; Chicago: Scribner. TEA. (2017) https://www.unialliance.ac.uk/teaching-excellence-alliance/ UCLan. (2018) UCLAN History, 1898–2018 https://190.uclan.ac.uk/ University of Central Lancashire. (2017) Learning and Teaching Strategy: Student Access, Experience and Success. Preston: UCLan.
Transformative learning Case studies Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams
Introduction When we think of technology and its relationship with education we must contextualise the revolution in digital development that has occurred over the past decades. This is necessary as it informs interpretation of the impact on student experience and expectations as well as responses to often short lived transitions. Transitions that saw the appearance of new applications, their uptake, evaluation, embedding and eventual redundancy in favour of a newer novel entry to the ﬁeld. Technology is neither neutral nor controlled by any speciﬁc group in the education institution staff–student relationship. It’s a marketing tool (the latest software, latest hardware, mobile apps, wireless campus, on-line classrooms), a monitoring tool (learner analytics), an infrastructure tool (student records) a social tool (forums and collaborative spaces). It is also one of a range of vehicles through which the institution engages with its participants, the public face of daily operations: the sometimes frustrating operations that damage the reputation of that same public face. Any notions of technology being a neutral object, merely an aid to innovative and efﬁcient education operations, is trumped by measures to attract, retain and progress students towards award attainment and subsequent employment or advancement within existing employment. It also offers smarter means of developing information feeds to construct trends and identify risks and opportunities in the external environment. The context of technological change over time has been evident in strategic thinking about aligning institutional operations to current and emerging expectations. There are some considerations that inform strategy development and eventually align to the institutional values, however there is the possibility of a lag between informed enthusiasts who can identify opportunity and enhancement to the student and staff experience and
34 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams a decision-making audience that is briefed by ‘evangelists’ and has to make decisions that consider other matters such as costs, impact on workload, reliability and sustainability, integration with IT support, marketing, student services and staff training and development. Often a prudent approach is to ‘try before you buy’ through consulting a pilot study, developing an interest group, implementing plans with an early adopter group and learning from the process. This all spells change: in the ﬁnal analysis a strategic change. Whilst this is often an institutionally adopted approach, all participants are able to determine their needs and goals and seek tools to serve their purposes. This points to a grass roots rather than institutional approach to change. It is in such creative and freeform development that supportive advice is valuable to maximise and not curtail development. Some institutions do seek to curtail development but that is fruitless as staff participants and students as customers will ﬁnd ways to act independently. A case example is a student developing a university app to collate room allocations for a given programme in the absence of being provided with that information. The institutional response was ﬁrm: to stop using the app (under brand reputation matters) rather than to applaud the student, involve them in advising on speciﬁcation for a branded university app and learn from the lag in provision between need and solution. When thinking of change there is also a need to discriminate between a concept and a case example. A motor car is akin to a concept (a vehicle that performs a deﬁned function) and a case example is a speciﬁc model of car (such as a Ford Escort). On-line repositories represent a concept and ‘models’ have included BlackBoard, moodle, Web CT. This is relevant because the strategist sees the overarching idea whilst recognising that speciﬁc detail is liable to change and revision. In the future we will still be communicating with each other but the method might have evolved. Learning from other sectors illustrates this: there was a time when ships communicated with ﬂags, then ﬂashing lights, then terrestrial radio and now satellite communications. The point here is that strategic development will always take a forward view aiming to position on the cusp of ‘the state of the art’ but will coexist with grass roots tensions and synergies that potentially cause the strategy to have to be open to accommodating evolution or at worst to be unrealised, as practices and the drive to attain strategic outcomes diverge. The implication for decision makers is that they have to interpret emerging technological trends, discriminate between concepts and case examples, recognise fads and be wary of enticing ﬁctions. Moreover, the transformative strategy developer has to understand and read their context, recognise trends and discern what will translate though interventions into meaningful impact. None of this will operationalise
beyond the pages of a document unless it is understood to require an integrated and collaborative approach that is with and through participants.
Examples of transformative strategy Two case examples follow that serve to illustrate different dimensions of transformative strategy. The ﬁrst is from the perspective of leading technology-enhanced development in a university and the second is that of a lecturer involved in such developments across a span of years.
UCLan case study: people, places and pedagogy – bridging the digital divide The case study focuses on the mutual beneﬁts of aligning initiatives geared towards embedding and enhancing digital approaches in our people, places and pedagogy, against the backdrop of continuing change across the sector. This uniﬁed approach has positively contributed to the attainment of several of the university’s aspirational digital ambitions and responds to the many challenges experienced through the adoption of digital innovation in the design and delivery of creative, engaging and inspiring curricula. The context of the project lay in changes in the higher education sector heralded by Dearing (1997) and a general shift towards the marketisation of education. This played a key role in inﬂuencing institutional plans for enhancement. The university senior managers acknowledged that a radical and tactical change in thinking would be required in order to ensure the institution was to meet not only the sector criteria, but also to maintain its position in the increasingly competitive higher education provision sector. This entailed three key steps: 1.
Investment in our people: this included a universal allocation of personal tablet computing technology for academic staff, to facilitate a move away from a traditional tethered desktop experience, enabling more agile and ﬂexible approaches to work, study and research. Investment in our places: this included a planned refurbishment and regeneration of the on-campus classrooms to facilitate approaches to digitally enabled teaching and the provision of a contemporary student learning experience. Investment in our pedagogy: an opportunity was taken to implement a programme of staff development, combining pedagogical approaches and complementary technologies to augment the positive impact of the investments in our people and places.
36 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams
Implementation Plans for a successful and sustainable implementation originated in a clear institutional vision and a willingness to collate and converge physical and ﬁnancial resources across a range of corporate themes. Collaborative working was built on open and honest relationships between the diverse project team, along with the invaluable support of senior managers. A transformational leadership approach was a strength during this period of change that involved staff from all levels in the organisation and ultimately ensured the success of this particularly complex and challenging initiative.
Evaluation Evaluations of the progress of the transformation was undertaken with the course teams and representatives from the Technology-Enabled Learning Team (TELT) who were able to support digital approaches and techniques in a consistent manner across academic programmes. This collaborative approach also provided the greatest opportunities for active and considered dialogue amongst all colleagues within the team. A feature of the evaluation incorporated a variety of learner analytics to generate evidence to support the hypothesis that creative and digitally inspiring materials and teaching approaches improved student interaction and in-class engagement. A brief overview of the three elements of the project follow.
People People are at the very heart of inspiring and engaging approaches to digital practice and equipping users with the most appropriate technology is a key requirement of positive change. The investment in portable personal tablet computers provides academic staff with the tools to operate ﬂexibly and to access systems, software and services from any internet connected location. Previously, this was only possible via a networked desktop computer or through a very limiting remote access service, which did not compare favourably with the capabilities or user experience of accessing the desktop device directly. The tablet experience had to offer parity and consistency, providing unhindered access to all the resources academic staff require to fulﬁl their role, regardless of their geographical location. The successful deployment of a direct access network connection service ensures users can effectively work wherever they choose, with no differentiation in experience. This innovative capability has also removed the need to
procure expensive local network infrastructure to support the continuing growth and development of international campus locations. Feedback from an evaluation survey completed by over 200 users of a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet computer demonstrates the wide range of academic practices inﬂuenced by the provision of the portable technology. In-class logon times have been a long-standing concern for many academics, often wasting precious class time, this has now reduced to seconds instead of minutes with the switch to local proﬁles on the portable devices. All content can be prepared in advance of the teaching session and be ready to show immediately upon entering the classroom. Evaluation results provide evidence that demonstrates how investment in portable computing technology and the shift away from the traditional desktop PC, has enhanced productivity and improved performance. A joint conference event hosted by UCLan and Microsoft (www.microsoft.com: ‘Transformational Technologies for Learning and Teaching’) provided a platform to celebrate and disseminate the positive impact and learning about this part of the overall project.
Places Places for teaching and learning featured prominently in the project. Work involved the refurbishment of 170 general teaching spaces and included the provision of moveable furniture (Fig 4.1), state of the art IT and audio-visual technology, wireless projection capability, event recording technology and a docking device for the user’s new tablet computer to facilitate enhanced in-class capabilities. The moveable furniture provides opportunities to consider and apply alternative layouts, supporting more interactive and participatory teaching approaches. A room information guide (Fig 4.2) located in every teaching space offers visual examples of possibilities and what particular activities they might support. A presentation podium (Fig 4.3) was installed in teaching spaces to house all of the technology equipment whilst also offering a place for a user’s personal items. It incorporated a standardised user interface panel enabling easy switching between the multiple input sources. Integrated wireless projection facilitated the option of working amongst students to enhance participation rather than solely presenting from the front, however the availability of the docking station also ensures charging capability if required. A signiﬁcant drive from students for increased event capture services resulted in the installation of recording equipment in all new learning spaces. Almost all (95.7%) of the 973 students who responded to
38 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams
Horseshoe/ L Shape
Figure 4.1 Indicative classroom layouts
a UCLan survey evaluating the initiative (Fig 4.4) indicated that they would like to see more recording of teaching activities to support their revision and review activities. Changes in the estate have not only improved the environment in which students study, they have provided the opportunity for academics to work in spaces speciﬁcally designed to facilitate active engagement in learning.
Pedagogy Collaborative working between the TELT team and the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) has resulted in a range of different strategies designed to facilitate alignment of technology and pedagogy. These strategies are constantly evolving but to date include joint delivery of the annual Digital Learning Conference (Microsoft 2018) (Fig 4.5), development of a range of combined continuing professional development (CPD) learning programmes and a creation of a centrally supported academic development hub to showcase technology integrated activities (Fig 4.6).
Figure 4.2 Room information guide
40 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams
Figure 4.3 Classroom technology podium
How important is it to have access to recordings of teaching activities?
Very important Relatively important Useful but not important Not important
694 (71.3%) 159 (16.3%) 100 (10.3%) 20 (2.1%)
Would you like to see more of your teaching activities recorded for revision and review purposes?
927 (95.3%) 46 (4.7%)
Figure 4.4 Indicative responses to technology-enhanced learning survey
Many of the collaborative ventures, particularly CPD workshops, provide the opportunity to demonstrate alignment of technology and pedagogy at the point of delivery. The most effective change management strategy has been acknowledgement towards the concept of pedagogy ﬁrst. In raising awareness of new technologies and demonstrating some of the applications available, the TELT team have managed to win the support of academics. CPD activities offering the opportunity to demonstrate and discuss technologies have provided the catalyst for debate and consideration, this is vital to the adoption of new approaches to technology-enabled practice.
Figure 4.5 Conference brochure
The TELT team also developed an extensive portfolio of learning support through an on-line staff development hub entitled E3 (Evaluate, Empower and Enhance) (Fig 4.7). Use of a localised version of the JISC digital capabilities tool, provides an assessment of the user’s current skills and recommends the most appropriate workshops for targeted and relevant personal development. The project also supported the appointment of a faculty-based learning technologist working directly within the TELT team but with a particular emphasis on requirements at the local discipline level. This has been particularly successful in identifying faculty champions, collating case study examples and developing learner communities to facilitate the sharing of best practice (Fig 4.8).
Looking back This project demonstrated the importance of collaborative working and in taking a holistic view to the implementation of innovative digital practice.
42 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams
Technology Enabled Learning & Teaching developing teaching – enhancing learning – improving working
New to UClan
Applications we support
Surface Pro support
Course bookings and materials
Meet the team
For your students
Video production services
Figure 4.6 TELT support hub
Historically, the three elements within this project had been considered independently of one another, an approach which often created conﬂict and contradiction. By aligning the three key components (people, places, pedagogy) the institution moved to a new era of empowering academics to be digitally creative in the design of their curriculum, and innovative and engaging in the delivery of their practice (UCLan 2013).
Figure 4.7 E3 Development hub
Transformative education: an academic view In the span of two decades since 1997 when the University of Central Lancashire superseded the former Lancashire Polytechnic much has changed in technology-enhanced learning. The internet was only 7 years old, Microsoft Windows was version 1.1, graphical user interfaces were being developed. Work as a research assistant still required hand searching paper-based indexes, use of microﬁche viewers and rudimentary database searches used line commands with orange text on a black screen with a ﬂashing cursor. Former time consuming and access-challenged modes of sourcing information were becoming redundant. The speed of that redundancy mirrored the speed of proliferation of technological development. Such development heralded an opportunity for academic staff to initially learn how to develop programs for computer applications. Indeed early thoughts in the 1980s had been towards teaching programming languages as the tools necessary for development. This however, was probably too much to expect as an addition to the core business of education design and delivery that was largely place
44 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams
Figure 4.8 Faculty learning technologist brochure
based. However, the development of graphical user interfaces facilitated greater use of computers without the need to learn programming languages. Thus a route opened up for learning designers to use applications, especially with a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface in their education practice. Initially that typically involved pilot studies trialling the application with a group of learners. For the developer individual curiosity often led to developing a problemsolving approach to navigating around technical glitches as they learnt how an application worked. In that way an informed evaluation could be made about an application’s use and sustainable operational use for and by learners. These approaches have been popular and chieﬂy represented a technology
led approach to education. It was akin to a sandbox approach of being given a ‘toy’ and then being asked how do you want to play with it. There is a consequence to such an approach, as well-meaning as it might have been. It reinforced an ad hoc approach to learning development with applications being built into a learning journey rather than determining a speciﬁcation for the intended learning journey and seeking to adopt or design the necessary tools to facilitate that journey. In some respects, learning design has always had an element of noticing objects in the environment and thinking how they could be used in a learning experience. Examples of this have been adopting a Lego building brick toy in a group exercise to build a structure as a method of teaching dimensions of team working. In relation to technology-enhanced learning this approach illustrates a community of enthusiasts that could be represented as early adopters on the right side of a technology-enhanced learning bell curve. Their work centres around ﬁnding, trying out and evaluating the usefulness of applications for a range of education activities. That same bell curve would also have a broad central section of interested onlookers and towards the left side a group of resistors of change. Technology-enhanced learning led developments have also included the virtual learning environment (VLE) that in itself posed challenges to both people and work processes involved: process related to time needed to learn how to use new technology, the skills required (capability) and infrastructure reliability (capacity). Time often was additional to existing work commitments (a potential excluding factor) and training needs were frequently addressed through an early user peer support group with a subsequent cascade approach when it came to wider dissemination. Once an application was supported for wider use more formal training sessions were made available. People factors included perceived threats by some colleagues through them being asked to place materials on-line, thus making the quality of their work accessible to others outside of the classroom. Duplication of effort was also seen as desktop publishing gained traction and a ‘cottage industry’ of materials development replaced acetate-based projector resources. These materials varied in quality and lacked agreed standards within a corporate brand. In other universities peer developers had also been exploring the idea of a gold standard for ELearning that chimed with ideas of quality and standards in education materials design and delivery. This reﬂected back on a need for a strategic or at least an operational framework to shape the quality of what learners would experience as well as to be economical in the expenditure of resource in creating such materials. It also helped to recognise that competing views existed about the expectations and needs
46 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams of students and so also the design of their anticipated education journey. Hitherto it had been largely an institution-led approach to technologyenhanced learning but with the advent of mobile devices and convergence of what could previously be achieved using different technologies onto a single device, opportunity was placed in the hands of everyone with access to a device. The locus of control in the conversation about expectations and quality thus shifted. This required a need to move from a provider-centric approach to education provision and towards an inclusive consultative approach that involved students. Eventually this would even move the locus to students being consumers of education and creators of knowledge through their use of technology. Listening to students captured views on how the technological landscape was changing and how students were identifying what they expected from providers. Advances made in individual modules and courses raised expectations of what others would provide. Early steps included smarter processes for accessing materials (increased use of the VLE as a repository) on-line calendars and enhanced feedback. Applications such as Turnitin allowed students to receive annotated and audio assessment feedback, another example of the technology-led thinking about what a suite of tools could do to improve student experiences and changing working practices. Consideration of on-line feedback for example, led to pilot studies on providing audio feedback, design of written feedback and the use of rubrics to benchmark statements where students had performed well or not. The technology brought the former paper-based student handbook marking criteria to the fore of student learning when receiving feedback. It made explicit and defendable judgements about the quality of assessed work. Such changes gave space to ask more strategic questions about what was the expected use of the VLE: a repository like a static library shelf or a place of interacting that drives the student to repeatedly visit and work in that space? It was not long before questions moved beyond what the student was expected to do to how they were expected to be learning using such technology. A new programme on health informatics capitalised on this development in the broader context and adopted a blended provision model that actively required students to use technology to demonstrate information literacy skills. This was supplemented with on-line support, discussion rooms and on-line feedback. Reviewing the journey travelled, the experience was transformative in several ways. Curriculum development in the context of technologyenhanced learning required consideration of ways in which a learner could own and develop knowledge and skills within an on-line environment.
Initially this was via a blended approach to deliver an informatics programme. The original design process included storyboarding the curriculum journey (using a whiteboard) to plan content delivery in relation to an assessment point. Reﬂections on learning about that stage showed that the education focus was weighted towards the assumptions and experience of an education team. Whilst evidence of how students had previously approached classroom-based learning was valuable, little attention was given to how technology-enhanced learning might shift student expectations. Given that the programme was information-centric it followed that information technology should have been central to delivery methods. Module delivery was hosted in a VLE (WEbCT) environment and learning materials and extension learning links provided to complement taught sessions. The opportunity to embed more applications within the VLE started a transition towards facilitating learning rather than teaching and centered more on students demonstrating information literacy skills (search, ﬁnd, retrieve and analyse) through learning exercises. Classroom sessions therefore allowed more time to focus on the meaning attributed to information and the skills needed to critique it whilst the actual digital literacy skill set grew as students spent time learning. In this way ﬂipped learning was emerging as a natural development while the learning journey underwent a transition from physical place based activities. The development of on-line collaboration applications gave further impetus to extending the boundaries of time-limited teaching sessions into a virtual space. This however, posed its own challenges compared with a discussion in a classroom. The former only exists as a memory after the event whilst on-line postings have a more permanent quality and thus offers a barrier that can mediate what an individual opts to post on-line. Just as good etiquette developed in email communication (as often the substance of a communication lacked the richer context that might be gleaned in a face to face or telephone conversation) so did it ﬁlter into on-line forums. Indeed, in professional occupations issues surrounding conduct and conﬁdentiality have required codes of practice. Through a transition to develop communities of learning, the ideal of a purely online discussion amongst participants has the propensity to replicate social behaviour in a physical space: some leading voices, some cautious participants and some who simply observe. Different strategies used in a classroom have likewise been used with on-line groups to foster full engagement. These have included invitations to contribute around a set task or question; set group tasks such as posting work on-line with others providing a critical commentary, and incentives to complete on-line activities such as allocation of summative assessment marks. Even the latter has not guaranteed full engagement.
48 Russell Gurbutt and Kevan Williams The challenge of engagement lies partially in the expectations of the education designers and their understanding of how learners will participate. Initial approaches to using a desktop computer majored on a few Ofﬁce applications (Word, Powerpoint, Excel,) and email and to some extent their integration into learning activities. Video and audio casts extended the integration through the VLE but this was essentially learning scheduled to occur around a static device, laptops offering some ﬂexibility and so the learning ‘on the move’ approach to working and managing a busy personal schedule (e.g. home, family, work, education). That in itself marked a departure from pre-existing expectations of university experience: social spaces, cafes, clubs and societies provided some opportunities for social engagement, but mobile technology facilitated social learning and access to more extensive and diverse networks. Moreover, this transformation moved learners’ engagement beyond being consumers of information to creators or co-creators of it. The implications signalled great opportunities for educators. Students were now readily able to acquire a digital skill set that was constructivist in character, building outwards from a starting point as they met challenges and learnt methods of working beyond them.
Conclusion In conclusion, the tripartite UCLan strategy that was effectively the culmination of several years of incremental developments was enabled by the staff being creative and taking advantage of new opportunities as they arose. Looking forward, continuing development of social networking is further shaping the student experience, the spaces and places where learning occurs and the people are involved. Moreover, the locus of control is shifting from institution-centric approaches to harmonise with the ways that work for students who are often employed full- or part-time alongside their studies and engaging in real-world problems.
References Dearing Report. (1997) National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education. London: Dept of Education. Microsoft.com. (2018) Transformational Technologies for Learning and Teaching with Microsoft Surface and Ofﬁce 365. [on-line] www.microsoftevents.com/pro ﬁle/form/index.cfm?PKformID=0x3474531abcd [accessed 28/01/19]. UCLan. (2013) Digital Shift Strategy. www.uclan.ac.uk/news/uclan_receives_time s_higher_education_award.php
Learning in different contexts The case for socially-immersive learning Russell Gurbutt and Brian Smith
In the past in order to study at university, one had to be present on campus; to inhabit the halls and corridors of a learning institution, to sit in the library and ruminate in classrooms. Education was an elitist pastime which was bounded by a set of social roles and social engagement. As universities and higher education has changed and developed so has the practice of learning. Some learners will be based on different campuses of the same institution and although they may share a ‘brand’ or an ‘identity’, the lived experience of learning may be very different. The size, shape and character of the campus will inﬂuence the student experience. Other students will be a member of the university, but study entirely on-line: for these students the university is a virtual place, and may focus all of its communications and messages on a campus which will remain unvisited, until perhaps graduation. The diverse experience of learning in a contemporary higher education institute (HEI) will bring together students from different backgrounds and experiences, often with learning preferences based on study elsewhere including international settings. It is in these differing contexts that the notion of learning as part of a collective learning space and as part of community becomes a challenging endeavour. This is, however, an area which is worth pursuing as the development of academic apprenticeships, the rise of the ‘ﬂipped classroom’ as an approach to multiverse learning and the continued development of ELearning means that more often study, or elements of study, will take place off campus and draw upon life-wide experiences (Jackson, 2011). The development of ELearning can be viewed as an alternative to campus or classroom-based study, it can be conceived as a solitary experience, the convenience of ﬂexibility countered by the isolation of the study pathway. And yet the rise of gamiﬁcation and simulation has found ways for individuals who are physically remote from each other to form and maintain a social connection (Grabowski, et al., 2016). The transferability
50 Russell Gurbutt and Brian Smith of this experience is advantageous for the on-line student who chooses this mode for reasons of geography, health, accessibility or ﬁnance. The huge advances in technology enable the development of the ‘cyber university’ which is, at least in part, a virtual entity. The challenges include the consistency and equality of learning experience, on-line and off-line, but also the lived experience of the student (Reed, et al., 2008). Educators acknowledge that learning is not bounded by a place or limited to a particular time. As HEIs become more diverse, one of the key elements of learning is the ﬂexibility to learn at times and in places which suit the needs of the learner. Technology-enhanced learning can be utilised effectively to support accessibility and ﬂexibility in learning, but digital learning can also be a mode by which a strong community of learners can be established and maintained. In considering the social aspects of ELearning as well as effective content delivery, the educational experience can be greatly enhanced, offering a sense of belonging and identity (Smith, et al., 2008) which can equal or exceed the student experience of more traditional learning modes. There are however, challenges to developing effective and efﬁcient on-line learning, including the need for reliable internet access, appropriate equipment, staff conﬁdence in teaching on-line and a contemporary pedagogy predicated on ELearning and teaching. One of the ways in which ELearning and teaching can become an effective mechanism for learning is the reconﬁguring of on-line learning as potentially a socially immersive learning experience. The sociallyimmersive learning (SIL) model (Gurbutt, et al., 2019) is a pedagogy which focuses on the lived experience of the on-line learner. Often an ELearning programme is created with the expectation that students (and staff) will seamlessly adapt to the on-line mode of learning. Furthermore the general focus of HEIs on campus-based students means that administrative and IT systems are often designed primarily to meet the needs of those individuals present on the campus. ELearning, by contrast, requires attention to be given to the issue of ‘how to learn’ as well as ‘what to learn’ as a fundamental precursor to active engagement. It is important to manage and facilitate the identity of the on-line learner, ﬁrstly as a member of the student body and secondly as a part of the course community. Often ELearning is conceptualised as ‘remote access’ and this can lead to an assumption that students also feel ‘remote’, and yet evaluations suggest that many eLearners feel more connected and involved than some students on campus. Relational aspects of the learning relationship between learners and their tutors, and between learners, and the achievements from harnessing the collective intelligence on a programme can be an overlooked strength of ELearning.
Learning in different contexts
With the rise of technology, the workplace is becoming more interconnected. Working across disciplines is becoming more common as ‘wicked problems’ require a consolidated approach to decision making and problem solving. The use of technology and on-line learning make it possible to render the boundaries between disciplines more permeable or even seek to dissolve them completely, focusing on cross-cutting themes and personalised learning. However, technology is not the only feature which is changing the shape of on-campus teaching, degree apprenticeships relocate substantial parts of learning to the workplace context, whilst on campus the use of social spaces enables learning to become less formal and more ﬂuid. There are a simultaneous plethora of learning opportunities and options, utilising multiple creative approaches and resources and the challenge therefore persists of ensuring that the focus of learning remains in the right place (i.e. student preferred) for student success. Likewise it is important that students continue to value the position of the university as catalyst, shaper and assessor/evaluator of their university endeavour. It is necessary for HEIs to help consumers, the students, to understand the value of the collective components of the course, which may appear peripheral to learning, but actually expand and accelerate learning. Preparing learners for contemporary employment requires engagement with a new set of issues and development of transferrable skills which will enable the constant evolution of roles, lifewide and lifelong-learning which characterises working life for many professionals. The notion of the ‘wicked problem’ is not new. (Rittel In and Buchanan, 1982:15) described a ‘wicked problem’ as a ‘class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conﬂicting values, and where the ramiﬁcations in the whole system are thoroughly confusing.’ Camillus (2008) claims that ‘Wicked issues are different because traditional processes can’t resolve them’. People born in the mid-1980s have grown up with on-line gaming; internet services were launched in the UK in 1991. Generation Z has not known a world without digital technology. Growing up as digital natives, they anticipate that technology will continue to develop and are often early adopters of new tools and approaches. The rise in technology has been associated with massive cultural changes: the rise of social media, the movement away from a ‘job for life’ to a portfolio career, globalization and interconnection. These changes require education to also adapt and prepare learners for a ﬂexible, dynamic, evolving approach to skill and knowledge acquisition. Education has reformed in other ways too, the introduction of student fees has fundamentally altered the relationship between students and their
52 Russell Gurbutt and Brian Smith universities, now consumers they seek a ‘product’ which meets their needs and as customers expect value for money. The notion of a product raises a challenge to pursuing SIL as it suggests that the student is diverting directly to a predeﬁned body of information. This is undertaken without necessarily developing the socially immersive network and therefore limiting their exposure to new skills that will eventually lead them towards either identifying, or generating the knowledge needed to address a wicked problem. At the same time there is a stronger emphasis by the UK government on ensuring that university prepares learners for work and effectiveness in the economy as well as pursuing their academic interests. The relationship between HEIs and stakeholders has gained prominence and importance as graduate employability comes into sharper focus. In 2017 the newly established ‘Ofﬁce for Students’ (Gov.UK, 2017) placed the focus on education providers to be accountable for their programmes and to prioritise the university role in providing a skilled, adaptable workforce for industry. As HEIs consider the need for the simultaneous development of skills and knowledge, the use of technology-enhanced learning, ELearning and digital applications becomes more attractive as it has the potential to enliven and personalise the student experience, in addition to being more inclusive and accessible.
Socially-immersive learning SIL pedagogy is an emerging way of considering the learning exchange. Based upon a self-reﬂective, personalised approach to learning which emphasises collaboration and connection, it begins with understanding that learners need to learn how to learn efﬁciently and effectively. This is an area which is often largely overlooked by educators unless the student identiﬁes a particular problem. Mostly it is anticipated that students will discover how to learn themselves. Generally, support for learning ‘how to learn’ within institutions is located elsewhere on campus from where ‘programme learning’ is delivered, often with a sense that this is somehow a form of almost ‘remedial’ support for those who lack the skills which are required for successful engagement in academia. These ‘study skills’ support centres are often designed purely for students on campus and can be of limited availability for on-line learners. This is a challenge for ELearning programmes. From the teaching perspective, the skills and time investment required for effective on-line learning are often underestimated by managers. Many academic workloads are predicated on hours spent in the classroom as an indicator of overall activity. However, in ELearning, and also in ﬂipped classroom work, the time taken on developing interactive, engaging
Learning in different contexts Existing HE model of learning
SIL model of learning • Behaviours
K S B
• Knowledge is transferred to and developed with learners – typically in bounded education contexts
• SIL learners develop and practise the behaviours that facilitate access to communities where skills and knowledge can be developed. • Skills • SIL behaviours lead to identifying and developing a bespoke skillset within communities to acquire and develop knowledge • Knowledge
• Skill • A skill set to consume and create knowledge is developed by learners • Behaviours • Broader employability behaviours are developed by learners to operate effectively in different occupational communities.
B S K
• Knowledge is accessed by learners and co-developed with learners (some, but not all of this could be accessed and developed on taught courses)
Figure 5.1 Existing higher education model of learning compared to SIL
materials and curating resources can be hugely underestimated. Furthermore the belief that ELearning is a remote experience because of physical distance is a misunderstanding of how technology can be used effectively to bring people together in community. This is an activity which requires particular skills on the part of the practitioner in both resource creation and on-line people skills. It could be argued that traditional modes of face to face teaching place the emphasis on knowledge, skills and behaviour development (KSB) whereas SIL approaches knowledge acquisition predominantly through behaviour and skills development (BSK) (see Figure 5.1).
Learning design, emphasising the social Focusing on knowledge acquisition as the primary basis of curriculum development generally places the emphasis on the classroom, the traditional site of knowledge transfer. It conceptualises the learner as being exposed to a new set of information which can be learned. There is a presupposition that the major learning of knowledge will occur within the prescribed teaching spaces of a traditional curriculum. However, it is clear that learners do not arrive at university without prior knowledge and in an interconnected world will learn continually in multiple settings. One of the functions of higher education is to enable students to join their learning together and to understand how they learn and to maximise all opportunities to extend their learning in both formal and informal ways.
54 Russell Gurbutt and Brian Smith In contrast SIL recognises that learners are learning in multiple contexts and bring skills from other settings into their higher education experience. More importantly they also have insights into how they learn, achieved through natural maturation resulting in proﬁciency in searching for, encountering, retrieving, interpreting and using information, alongside the active construction of knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978). Increasingly learning is less about ‘learn and recall’ and more about location, development and application of knowledge. The context of that application is more likely to require interactions with others and identiﬁcation and connection with other knowledge and skills in search of solutions to wicked problems. Hence the ability to conﬁdently interact socially is key to the connectivity necessary to contemporary decision making. Race (2005) suggests we only know what we know when applied to a given situation. We frequently apply our ‘know how’ with others in a way that reinforces self-regulation and shared cognition in a community of practice (Wenger, 1998; Rhoden and Dowling, 2006). Although some similarities are shared with social constructivism, the distinctiveness is in the holistic approach to behaviour, skills and knowledge of the community. Technology can enable these connections, allowing individuals in different locations to be connected and focused on a shared activity, but technology also has the potential to be a disabler, providing a ready distraction from being present and engaged. Traditionally learning spaces have been physical: lecture theatres and classrooms have been predicated on shared learning and social engagement. However with technology there is the potential to be isolated within a physical space by virtue of being socially connected at the same time elsewhere. The same technology offers a tool for engagement, creativity and interaction both in physical and virtual spaces. Hence a community of practice can develop which is diverse and scattered geographically, but focused and connected on-line, working together in shared learning. Central to this learning connection is the social element of getting to know one another, developing rapport, socialising and developing a shared social etiquette. This fosters an environment of trust and openness, mirroring the connection that happens in face to face conversations. The on-line community works as collective, deﬁning and describing issues, establishing ground rules and learning behaviours and sharing learning. This has the potential for a strong emphasis on peer review and peer support. Such communities can be transient, e.g. for the duration of a module, or with a greater degree of permanence, leading sometimes to connections between alumni which persist way beyond the course of study. Learners can belong to different communities of practice or communities of learning simultaneously. The key is the purposeful engagement with one
Learning in different contexts
or multiple learning groups and the establishment of relationships within those groups, with each other and with the teaching team. Focusing on social interaction is a good precursor for the team-working, communication and prioritisation skills which are the transferrable skills for the workplace. Through these connections, shared exploration, retrieval, review, critique and evaluation of knowledge, the learners are enabled to practise these skills within a community. This ultimately results in the creation of speciﬁc knowledge, or application of particular knowledge for a purpose. SIL is a process of behaviour, competency development, skills and knowledge, this is somewhat different to modes of knowledge transfer, skills development and resultant behaviour (Glowinkowski, 2009).
Immersive learning Immersion relates to being engaged within the social community of learners, being immersed in the subject and the learning process. This is characterised by being open to acknowledging and recognising different perspectives, challenging perceptions, being challenged and awareness of diversity and the need for inclusivity. Immersion can be beyond disciplinary borders, it can also, due to the virtual nature of the learning group, be more international in character. It is personalised in that the learner can engage in a self-reﬂective and self-determined way (Rotter, 1966), deciding upon their own level of engagement (albeit there may be minimum levels of interaction and engagement which are stipulated). This lends itself to transformational learning based on a collective identity and shared understanding such as may be experienced and explored using activity theory (Englestrom, 1995) or as Handy (1993) describes in a participatory community with common goals and values. Immersive learning in SIL refers to the process of being a committed participant in communities, being absorbed and creative in sharing, debating, discussing, being open to challenge and recognising multiple perspectives originating in a diverse community. It is potentially an international classroom or forum where individuals can linger, step out and step in as their need dictates. The community affords a collective identity that is propelled forward into action through a shared understanding. The community offers the opportunity to share in a ﬂuid ‘school’ that supports knowledge creation and draws participants along on a transformational journey. In this regard, Handy’s (1993) Psychological contract between the participants is a naturally occurring phenomenon with innate goals, values, and aspirations common across the participatory community.
56 Russell Gurbutt and Brian Smith
The learner and learning In SIL the learner is not seen as just a recipient of knowledge, nor as a unit within an economic model of course provision. The learner has active agency in their own learning and development. They are required to evaluate, navigate and interpret the learning environment. Social engagement and participation enables them to develop skills and acquire knowledge. SIL encourages self-reﬂection to identify knowledge gaps and learning experiences and components which may address them. It is a learning behaviour that recognises the potential sources of learning and identiﬁes learning spaces. Immersive learning also requires learners to be encouraged to be intellectually curious, open to diversity and different perspectives and agile across disciplinary ﬁelds. This type of learning focuses on problem solving and decision making and has the potential to develop a more altruistic approach to the knowledge which is generated. This poses a challenge for HEIs in that it is more straightforward to impart then test understanding of a body of knowledge predicated on a pre-set simple straightforward problem, than to enable creativity and innovation and seek to measure individually the learning which takes place as a collaborative endeavour. However learner expectation has already evolved towards application of knowledge, in learning ‘how’ as well as learning ‘what’, knowledge is deconstructed, reconstructed, interrogated, evidenced and evolved continually in the interconnected world of digital communication. When knowing ‘what’ is available easily and accessibly at ones ﬁngertips, other types of knowing and being able to effectively discriminate is increasingly valued. Personal integration with technology has already shifted the terrain around education and learning. SIL can facilitate a different approach to learning and may be useful in continuing professional development, moving beyond teaching as telling (knowledge transfer) to develop broader communities of learning. SIL does require a level of staff competence and conﬁdence in using technology to support learning, in addition to reliable equipment and internet access, digital infrastructure and a pedagogical led approach to digital learning (Miller, 2010).
Conclusions The development of socially-immersive learning is a reﬂection of the social changes that accompany the digital shift in education. With a focus on behaviour it emphasises the skills required for interconnected, collaborative work around wicked problems which will increasingly characterise the world of work. It recognises the complexity of where and when learning
Learning in different contexts
may occur and the role of teacher, learner and context in developing the learner determined space in which learning is optimised.
References Camillus, J.C. (2008) Strategy as a wicked problem. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2008/05/strategy-as-a-wicked-problem [Accessed 14/01/19]. Engeström, Y., Engeström, R. and Karkkainen, M. (1995) Polycontextuality and boundary crossing in expert cognition: learning and problem solving in complex work activities. Learning and Instruction, 5 (4), 319–336. Glowinkowski, S. (2009) It’s behaviour stupid! What really drives the performance of your organisation. Cornwall: Ecademy Press. Gov.UK. (2017) Higher Education and Research Act 2017. Retrieved from: www. legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/29/contents/enacted [Accessed 14/01/19]. Grabowski, J., Reed, A., Moore-Russo, D. and Wiss, A. (2016) Society for information technology & teacher education. International Conference. Chesapeake, VA, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Gurbutt, R., Smith, B., Gurbutt, D., Duckworth, J. and Partington, H. (2019) Socially immersive learning: A new pedagogy. INTED. Valencia, Spain. Published proceedings. Handy, C. (1993) Understanding organizations. London: Penguin. Jackson, N.J. (2011) Learning for a complex world: A lifewide concept of learning, education and personal development. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse. Miller, W. (2010) Mode-Neutral and the need to transform teaching. Public Administration Quarterly, 35 (4), 446–465. Race, P. (2005) Making learning happen: A guide for post-compulsory education learning. London: SAGE. Reed, P., Smith, B. and Sherratt, C. (2008) A new age of constructivism: ‘Mode Neutral’. E-Learning, 5 (3), 310. Rhoden, C. and Dowling, N. (2006) Why tutors matter: Realities of their role in transition, in Proceedings of the 9th Paciﬁc Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference. Australia: Grifﬁth University. Rittel In, H. and Buchanan, R., (1982) Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8 (2), (Spring), 5–21. Rotter, J. (1966) Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, 80 (1), 1–28. Smith, B., Reed, P. and Jones, C. (2008) ‘Mode Neutral’ pedagogy. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning. Retrieved from: http://www.eurodl.org/?p=archi ves&year=2008&halfyear=1&article=315 [Accessed 05/04/19]. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Continuity and change Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
‘Continuity and change’: those words could easily be used to describe the trajectory of higher education in the UK in recent years. Some elements of university education have remained relatively unchanged, the campus is still evident in university towns and cities and the conﬁguration of those campuses is still relatively the same. But beyond and within those contexts, change has been constant.
The shape of the campus Lecture halls, classrooms, library, laboratories, social areas all persist and are recognisable across campuses. However, look more closely and the nature of some of those buildings, the infrastructure and the way this is used and one sees a signiﬁcant change of character. Lecture theatres may have movable furniture, they may have technology which facilitates interaction and they will certainly enable students to be connected to technology whilst in the space. Connectivity enables students to access anything of their choosing and although tutors hope and anticipate that they will be engaged in activities related to study, but this can no longer be guaranteed, they could be anywhere in a virtual world, related to study or not. Therefore the craft of teaching has to ﬁnd ways to tether the learner to the subject and the space, resulting in greater emphasis on interactive lessons. Even in large auditoriums, the teacher is creating an environment to encourage presence, not just physically but in practice too. This is an evolution of the skills of a teacher and the practice of teaching. Nor does the change stop there, at one time all technology utilised in such a learning space would be the property of the institution, but this is no longer the case. Students bring a plethora of devices to lessons and learning must be circumscribed in a way which is not too basic for sophisticated IT users with the latest technology, but also accessible for the less advanced IT user with the most basic of
Continuity and change
devices. Nor, it could be argued, is social media use in education as equitable and democratic as many believe it to be, being inﬂuenced by social class and educational background (Selwyn, 2012). Yet the burden of engagement still rests with the tutor, with literally a million plus distractions at the ﬁngertips of their students, the contemporary tutor has to muster resources to hold the group together and retain their attention. One of the key ways to achieve this is to view diversity as a resource as well as a challenge and to utilise the wider knowledge in the room. It is not just the large spaces that have changed, classrooms have similarly changed too: more mobility, more interaction, recording elements and the use of ﬂipped classrooms change the focus of the room from instruction and information to discussion and practice. Again the change in learning environment changes the role of the academic. Preparing ﬂipped classroom materials is a very different skill set to standing in front of a class and teaching in a traditional way. Such preparation takes signiﬁcant time, but the workload models may not reﬂect this changing practice and acknowledge the different skill set required for preparation and the impact on time. The practice of teaching is a constant but the delivery mode is changing very fast. An evaluation of the campus might see the library as unchanged, but this too has evolved. Libraries are now viewed as spaces to collaborate and connect; on-line collections mean that a student might be in a library reading, but with no physical book in evidence. Libraries are also spaces for learning about how to learn, with workshops on using technology and on-line resources, the role of the librarian shifting too towards a broader range of skills acquisition. Social areas are constantly evolving. Whereas once students would have been resident on or near a campus, the proliferation of commuting students, part-time learners, apprentices and mature learners, means that university communities are geographically diverse, impacting in turn on the activities of student unions and the responsibilities of universities as they strive to maintain and promote inclusivity and connection. Social spaces have become learning spaces as technology enables students to work anywhere on campus and connect in neutral spaces outside of their own faculties. One of the most signiﬁcant changes in recent years has been the growing emphasis on pastoral care and support for student wellbeing. Once this was perceived as secondary to learning, but has now become a driver of the student experience. There have been calls for higher education to recognise and address the pressures experienced by students from the point at which they enter university and throughout their student journey (Guardian, 2018). Universities UK (2015) produced an
60 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg action plan for higher education institutions to follow in addressing mental-health needs amongst students, highlighting that 1% of all students in 2011–12 declared a mental health issue. In 2016 a YouGov Poll revealed 26% of students experienced mental health problems. This is more representative of the 1 in 4 statistic of the general population in the UK (Mind, 2018). The physical campus is changing to reﬂect the needs of its students, student services hold prominent places and the messages are about support, enablement and a positive experience of university. This is as much a part of the learning environment as classrooms and library. Being in the right place to learn is about much more than a physical space and is equally concerned with wellbeing. Multiple explanations have been given for the rise in mental-health issues, but the ﬁnancial pressures of university, the widening participation agenda and the fragmentation of social groups due to the rise of social media play a contributory part. Narratives about learning and teaching have evolved into discourses about the ‘student experience’ recognising that being enabled to learn is about more than been subjected to good teaching, but about being in a space that is physically and psychologically conducive to learning. Physical changes in use of space are accompanied by technological developments. Many students will engage in large elements of their learning off campus and some ELearners, may never visit the campus at all. Technology is a challenge for even the most adept of academic staff as it constantly changes. A programme or application which works well and is easy to use and ﬁt for purpose may disappear quickly from service and teaching preparation needs to be revisited using another application. Likewise resources may be dispersed across multiple virtual sites and need to be curated for students in a way in which they can easily navigate, which can be a time-consuming proposition. On-line resources are subject to change as links disappear and websites close, all requiring more vigilance on the part of the teacher in ensuring that resources remain accessible and patent. Accompanying this change is the constant need for staff to update their knowledge and skills. Students are changing too, the Dearing Report (1997) triggered the shift towards charging student fees and ultimately towards a consumer relationship in higher education. This has relocated the scrutiny of higher education into other places and spaces. Customers seek value for money and the rhetoric about the value added by courses has become part of the higher-education landscape and is reﬂected in the Teaching Excellence Framework (2016) metrics. The introduction of fees has been linked to the higher number of commuting students seeking to keep university
Continuity and change
costs down which in turn has had an impact on the student experience on campus. Widening participation has been a successful initiative resulting in large number of non-traditional students at university, this includes mature students returning to study. Demographically more women are attending university and ELearning provision is also growing. For students there have also been social changes which are signiﬁcantly impacting higher education. Social media enables students to remain connected with a wide group of friends and acquaintances. This can be viewed as a positive issue, but increasingly students report ﬁnding it harder to connect with a new range of people when they arrive at university. It is not uncommon to see a group of students all connecting with physically absent others on mobile devices, whilst not communicating with those in the vicinity. This is a particular challenge for vocational programmes in areas such as health and social care where the ability to build a rapport and link with other people is part of the skill set required for practice. Academic staff also frequently report that many students would rather email than visit an academic in person and that telephone conversations are relatively rare. This provides some challenges in relation to the student experience in trying to ﬁnd ways to enable people to learn how to network and connect as well as learning about the skills and knowledge associated with their chosen course. One of the ways that this can be addressed is in providing work experience for students wherever possible to enable them to practise building rapport, but also including social activities within teaching. Some tutors report the difﬁculties of endeavouring to encourage students to move out of their comfort zone of only interacting with existing friends. Employability teams within the sector engage in signiﬁcant work in reinforcing the need to build social skills and conﬁdence. Social media is changing higher education in other ways too. Placement supervisors report the difﬁculties associated with trying to promote authenticity and reﬂection in students in work-based learning. Social media by its nature encourages participants to generally promote the best of themselves. This is then problematic when asking students to identify where they might be having difﬁculties or struggling. Authenticity of this type is counter-intuitive to a culture in which they usually only share the good, the successful and the noteworthy. Social media has other challenges too, for example, in promoting the need for conﬁdentiality to a group that may be accustomed to oversharing and might not recognise a need for privacy. Understanding the distinctions between personal and professional views: what can be shared and what cannot be made public can also be a problematic area. These challenges have led to innovations in professionalism training being embedded in the core modules of
62 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg programmes, but also in cultivating a culture of connection and reinforcing as a core value of the institution the importance of compassion and respect. Sense of belonging to the university and connection with the institution, its values and its members wherever they are is increasingly important to enable learning.
Towards an inclusive campus Experiencing diversity on campus can play an important role in shaping attitudes and values amongst the student population. Chang et al.’s (2011) review of diversity: 'contended that students in diverse education environments learn more and are better prepared to become active participants in a pluralistic, democratic society when they leave higher education.’ Diversity highlights the need for inclusivity and a campus where all feel welcomed and included. Inclusivity can be viewed in multiple ways; it can be about compliance, ensuring that all the boxes are ‘ticked’ in relation to ensuring that everything is being done in a task-driven way. It can be an aspiration, the desire to be inclusive, but without a road map to achieve inclusivity, or it can be a culture, an innate desire to be inclusive but which may take time to achieve as systems, processes and practices align to make inclusivity the norm. Inclusivity is not singular, it is multiple and the ﬁrst step to achieving an inclusive community is to understand the community itself. It is probably true to say that in the current climate, most university populations are far more diverse than their senior management teams. So until the point is achieved at which these groups are representative of their communities there is an inherent challenge in creating an inclusive institution. Understanding the lived experience of students and staff is key to bringing about change. Dialogue can play an important part in this endeavour. The opportunity for staff and students to meet the senior team and voice their opinions, offer suggestions and explore collective decision making is important and this has been achieved through consultation exercises, drop in sessions and addresses from senior team members. The student voice is evident at all levels of the university from programme level representatives, to faculty representatives, at all relevant committees and up to the university board. The title of the student engagement and experience committee reﬂects the active part played by students in shaping policy and practice. Dialogue is also about words, language and tone. A dialogue about inclusivity needs to be authentic and all embracing. As much attention is paid in a community to the way something is said and the consistency of how it is said to the words themselves.
Continuity and change
Inclusivity has been embraced by adopting patterns that help every student but meet the speciﬁc needs of some. For example, at least a summary of lectures is recorded and in certain areas the whole sessions will be recorded using lecture capture technology: subsequently available to all students, it is particularly important for those with learning needs but additionally supports all students. Student support tools and learner analytics increasingly record the individual student journey and their engagement to build up a picture progression through university. In this way student support teams can track progress and target interventions as appropriate to the needs of the individual. Drivers for inclusivity include: community, curriculum, compliance, culture and comparisons. Community drivers are the desire for a welcoming, safe and connected campus for all. Inclusivity is about recognising diverse needs within curriculum delivery and diversity within the curriculum, ensuring that students can ‘see themselves’ in the curriculum and also access all part of learning. Compliance is concerned with the need to demonstrate that as a higher education institution minimum standards are being met and legislation is adhered to effectively, in spirit as well as process. Comparison is concerned with noting the progress towards an inclusive approach on campus, but also with benchmarking performance in this area alongside other parts of the sector. The chosen approach to inclusivity is to focus on pedagogy rather than compliance as the key driver to achieve inclusion. Hence a learning and teaching strategy can be utilised to ensure that an excellent pedagogy is accessible and that good teaching is underpinned by appropriate support. Policies relating to learning and teaching are designed to be inclusive within a philosophy which is based on equality of access and experience. Therefore inclusivity becomes a byproduct of good practice rather than just a tick box exercise.
The evolving shape of support In the quest to retain the continuity of the best of a traditional higher education, while supporting the needs of a contemporary, more diverse, student body, and to accommodate the needs of employers and stakeholders for graduates ready to operate in a challenging, dynamic, interconnected world, the shape of support has needed to evolve. As already outlined, this has resulted in physical changes on campus, an explosion of the use of technology to support learning and enhance sustainability, but it has also led to changes in initiatives. The sector has become more engaged in trialling and evaluating initiatives to provide an evidence base for what effectively works in supporting students and ensuring a positive student experience.
64 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg Some measures have proved effective in these areas. A Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS) scheme is common amongst a signiﬁcant number of HEIs with successes not only for the recipients but for the peer mentors (PASS, 2018). PASS utilises the experience of students towards the end of their programme of study to facilitate learning for students in the early years. This facilitated group learning supports the traditional lessons/seminars offering an opportunity for further discussion and exploration of themes. Peer support is not a new phenomenon, but the structured use of peer support in this way, actively managed by staff and with training available for the mentors, is a successful model of increasing support and building community. Mentors are encouraged to mix with other mentors from different programmes and the scheme enables different years to meet each other. Aside from the obvious gains of course learning, students also learn about themselves, discovering that other students who have successfully progressed, have themselves found elements of the course challenging. This proves reassuring for many, as do the useful insights around how useful the earlier elements of learning are in building later success. The mentoring process is a ‘voice from inside the curriculum’ which enables students in the early years to see the coherence of curriculum design and also to understand the elements of ‘spiral curriculum’ in that certain topics are revisited in more depth. For the mentors, the conﬁdence that comes from helping to develop the skills of others, the communication skills and the time management, all become key developments for employability. Likewise specialist support from one area of an institution can be offered to course teams and colleagues in other disciplines as a useful way of amplifying good practice, not just in terms of teaching, but also course administration and process. National Student Survey feedback and Student Voice projects are useful in this regard, as they not only note the things which students appreciate in their own area of study, but also what students in other settings value, enabling staff to introduce these elements into other programmes. The student experience is constantly changing: adapting to contemporary challenges. The academic advisor role offers students a broader level of anticipatory support focused on different aspects of the learning experience, which may incorporate issues such as time management, communication skills, study skills and elements of wellbeing. This is an evolution from the personal tutor role which was about being responsive to the expressed needs of students, with some planned meetings, but with the onus on the student to seek out help and support. The academic advisor role is more proactive, based on skills development around
Continuity and change
a study programme and supporting students to reﬂect on progress and take ownership of their own development, whilst providing a range of support and development options to enable them to succeed. Academic coaches provide a more targeted level of support for skills development, spending dedicated time with students to personalise learning plans and help them to develop core skills. Other examples include the work of the Equality Challenge Unit, which works with current and potential students to identify the barriers to study and to progression, working with students from non-traditional university backgrounds. Using initiatives such as the ‘barrier football’ approach in which sport is used as an active and participatory metaphor to open up discussions about what impeded success and where intervention or a change of perspective might be useful. There are also projects on ‘levelling the playing ﬁeld’ which consider the ways in which prior social experience makes it easier for some students to thrive at university whilst others struggle. Having identiﬁed these, sometimes social, areas which are problematic, adjustments are made to ensure that no-one is disadvantaged. These include networking events to develop social conﬁdence, learning about social norms and opportunities to learn from stakeholders. This type of activity is central in ‘widening participation’ institutions. Too often higher education widens ‘access’ without giving students the scope to develop the social skills and conﬁdence which really lead to widening ‘participation’ and being enabled to function in a new context. Joint interdisciplinary groups which are open to staff and students, such as the Criminal Justice Partnership and Arts and Health Network, help with these transitions as they encourage and enable a growing participation in events in a supportive atmosphere.
The shape of the institution Change in contemporary education is changing the shape of higher education institutions too. It could be argued that the boundaries between workplace learning and classroom learning, and between informal and formal learning are being blurred as learning becomes more ubiquitous and less bounded by conventional timetables. Watching colleagues in ﬁne art engaging in drawing, the way in which they practically blur boundaries is notable. When working with charcoal, they use a thumb to ‘blend’ the shades together, creating a seamless ﬁnish. In some ways, this is also what is happening in higher education as the ‘blending’ of contexts makes it impossible to identify a boundary at all between different types of learning. Partnerships between placements and university,
66 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg such as is evident in degree apprenticeship programmes blend learning between multiple sites and indeed between the learning and the work environment, the line manager and the tutor. This is conceptually different to the more traditional notion of ‘blended learning’ which was more about techniques and approaches rather than places. Degree apprenticeships require the academic team to be adept at circumscribing learning for the workplace and working in partnership with both employer and student to ensure that it is achieved. This development of dispersed teams or ‘teams at a distance’ is challenging for some disciplines unfamiliar with this type of approach. This model stretches the university beyond the campus more comprehensively than many traditional placements and requires an engagement with stakeholders on a more involved and consistent level. Shared responsibility and accountability demands a depth of relationship and shared commitment to learning and supporting the learner. Even in areas untouched by apprenticeships there is still a need to engage with stakeholders to develop programmes, to draw on expertise and to prepare the graduates that stakeholders and industry express that they need. The dialogue between community and university is part of an evolving learning space, which embraces life long learning and the skills escalation of employers through continuing professional development (CP). Partner colleges and international campuses also change the shape of the university, the interconnectedness between partners and other campuses bringing the opportunity for enhancements and learning from each other, but also responsibilities for quality and support. It is by these mechanisms that the continuity of excellence in higher education is preserved but also rendered more accessible. The challenge is to embed these changes in an ongoing developing culture of excellence balancing culture and control. The shape of the institution also changes in terms of the relationship with the local region. UCLan takes the role of civic anchor seriously, seeking for ways to beneﬁt the local community beyond the work of its graduates and alumni, many of whom remain in the region postgraduation. Initiatives include community engagement projects, of which there are many, particularly with the third sector and initiatives with local industry. There is desire to develop cultural capital through the support of existing and developing local festivals, both musical and cultural, and the creation of university festivals, such as a highly successful Lancashire Science Festival (UCLan) which attracts thousands of visitors each year and is open to the public. This is a procurement strategy which actively supports local businesses and models sustainability and there is an engagement with local challenges, facilitating links between organisations.
Continuity and change
The contemporary university is not bounded by a campus, but is visible through one and it is this evolution which makes for an evolving, vibrant learning space which is accessible to the community, alumni, neighbourhood and university partners drawing together the best opportunities for current students.
Conclusion: the shape of learning Continuity and change is part of amplifying effectiveness, recognising that the spaces and places that individuals choose to develop their learning in are not necessarily the timetabled, bounded spaces of the conventional university. The modes of learning may not be traditional either, based on discovery, co-creation, creativity and exploration. Assessment may take many forms, collective or individual, continuous or snapshot, practical or theoretical and it is this blend of the recognisable strands of contemporary employability, the enterprise approach to education which renders it dynamic and ﬂexible. Evolving spaces to learn, is to acknowledge that learning itself is evolving, encompassing playful elements, collaborative themes and developing communities of practice. Learning has a shape, but it is increasingly personalised, individualised and to a degree self-determined. There may be parameters and levels to be attained, but the journey to attainment of those goals may be more nuanced than ever before. Likewise for teaching staff, the elements of good teaching remain constant, to connect, inspire, explain, enable, enthuse and empower. The skill set and tools required to achieve this, the contexts in which teaching and learning operates and the ﬂexibility to design and deliver curriculum are developing all the time. The teacher is also continually simultaneously the learner and collectively institutions are learning too about the art of holding on to what matters and the science of exploration in learning and teaching.
References Chang, M.J., Milem, J.F. and Antonio, A.L. (2011) Campus Climates and Diversity’ in Schuh, J.H., Jones, S.R. and Harper, S.R. (Eds) Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Dearing Report. (1997) National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education. London: Dept of Education. Guardian. (2018) www.theguardian.com/education/series/mental-health-a-univer sity-crisis Mind UK. (2018) www.mind.org.uk PASS. (2018) Peer Assisted Study Sessions. www.pass.manchester.ac.uk/
68 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg Selwyn, N. (2012) http://sites.jmu.edu/ﬂippEDout/ﬁles/2013/04/sample-essayselwyn.pdf Universities UK. (2015) www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/ Documents/2015/student-mental-wellbeing-in-he.pdf YouGov. (2016) https://yougov.co.uk/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2016/08/09/ quarter-britains-students-are-afﬂicted-mental-health
A community within a community Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
Those that inhabit the physical and virtual space of the university simultaneously occupy more than this single community. For members of the university, loyalties and shared endeavours exist in multiple spaces. At institution level the challenge is to ensure sufﬁciency of common purpose to engender a University community with a mutual sense of purpose that can be operationalised at multiple levels. All higher education institutions identify their community and culture through their mission, vision and values. An underpinning narrative of this book has been a recognition of the changing visions and values of higher education and the need to reinvent the environment and context for learning where communities come together with shared ambition and common values. The standard university community is comprised i) a leadership group with responsibility for organisational strategy and delivery; ii) a cluster of academic colleagues arranged through faculties, schools, departments and teams; iii) a cluster of professional service units to support the academic endeavour such as registry, human resources, ﬁnance, student support; and iv) a community of learners who are the recipients or benefactors of the services of the university. These learners are consumers, but have a relationship which is more akin to an employee relationship than that of a service user. Like employees, students change their lives in order to partake in higher education. Some move house, some require personalised support for health and wellbeing, all develop a deep-rooted connection with the institution that is greater than the purchase of most other products and services. Arguably the relationship an individual forms with their university is far greater than that with their bank or insurance company. All four communities are drawn together through their common endeavour. However these communities do not and should not exist in isolation. Each discipline area has its own community: a community of practitioners, learners, academics and leaders. These communities exist in isolation and
70 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg as a collection. Higher education is entwined in all of these spaces either as member or as a stakeholder to inﬂuence or be inﬂuenced by. Similarly the university itself is part of a community that more than just a higher education learning centre. Universities are often an important part of the fabric of the towns and cities where they are situated. A university is often one of the major employers in a locality in addition to drawing in the students who become residents, and their families which form a connection to a town or city. Universities are interconnected regionally and globally with different groups and partners, they are connected within their locality to residents and across the campus with a dynamic, ever changing student body interacting with staff. They are able through all of these interconnections to have a positive impact on other communities of which they are a part.
The civic partnership One of the ways that the values of a university community can inﬂuence and shape other communities is via their business decisions. Preece (2017) described the emergence internationally of ‘a more responsive, socially engaged university movement’ and highlighted that it could be argued that those who have attended university could be expected to be more committed to national development and citizenship than those who have not received a university education. As major employers and consumers of goods and services, universities are in a unique position to model positive behaviours and inﬂuence the wider community by the values and decisions of the higher education community. In Lancashire, England, the ‘Preston Model’ is an approach to how the council and the anchor institutions within the city, together with other partners, are basing their decision making on implementing the principles of building community wealth within the city and its environs (Preston City Council, 2017). The model recognises that the procurement practices of large organisations can have a positive impact on a locality if goods and services are sourced locally in a way which beneﬁts the local economy. The university sees itself as a civic anchor and as such models behaviours which emphasise the importance of engaging with local businesses and suppliers to retain wealth in the region. In addition to a community role in supporting the local economy as a consumer of goods, the university also plays an active role in upskilling the local workforce. Many alumni remain local to the university and of the local population 1 in 100 will be enrolled at the university at any given time (LEP, 2016). Add to this the signiﬁcance of the university as a large local employer and the impact of education and research on the
A community within a community
locality and it is clear that it has an important role as a community within a community. The impact of the institution is multi-faceted including cultural, economic and educational elements. Particular initiatives highlight the ways in which a university is able to role model and express desirable values for the wider community. As already mentioned, an example of this was the response to a disaster on the other side of the world. In 2017, the University of Central Lancashire was able to arrange, at short notice, the accommodation of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) students in 2017. Displaced by Hurricane Irma, the students left their campus on the island of Sint Maarten in the Caribbean to relocate to Preston to continue their medical studies (Guardian, 2017). The relocation came about partly as a result of an existing contact with the East Lancashire Hospital Trust, which is a placement provider for the MBBS medical course at UCLan, and as a result of the enthusiasm and commitment of the university to offer the AUC students the option of continuing their studies in Preston whilst the infrastructure on Sint Maarten was rebuilt. Approximately 1000 students and members of their faculty moved en masse to the city, using facilities in the evenings and at weekends to continue their study. Accommodated on campus and around the city, the relocation of AUC students represented something about the city, the university and the learning community. It is an example of how learning communities can react rapidly, positively and effectively to meet an unforeseen set of circumstances and evolve the use of learning spaces at short notice to meet an unanticipated need. The response prompted a great deal of reﬂection: on the values of the university and its staff, on the solution focused approach which enabled learning spaces to be found, adapted or created for a sudden inﬂux of students, and on the UK student body who found themselves at the centre of an evolving response to a crisis which could have been viewed as remote. Learning on campus is not limited to subject content and discipline knowledge. The beneﬁt to learners of witnessing a proactive response to the situation in which the AUC students found themselves is an example of the wider learning which is experienced as part of a community. The student body witnessed a compassionate, effective, rapid and wellco-ordinated response to a crisis, which impacted many parts of university provision, including teaching, accommodation, placement provision and student support. The involvement of the whole community led to effective work by the student union to support the endeavour, not least catering for all of the students with a Christmas lunch. Many higher education institutes (HEI)s are characterised by the initiatives and activities with which they engage. Institutions are deﬁned,
72 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg and can seek to deﬁne themselves, through their partnerships and networks and through the initiatives they prioritise. Community engagement is a key part of the cultural expression of an institution, determining links to the neighbourhood in which it is located, the so-called ‘town and gown’ relationship, but also the social groups with which it elects to engage. These range from industrial and stakeholder links to educational partnerships, charitable endeavours and community initiatives. Each university has its own expression and ﬂavour of communities interwoven together in the locality and across campus. In some areas it is important for universities to be part of a catalyst to stimulate and support local events, be these music festivals, arts weeks or exhibitions. These events could be described as community activities which would continue to take place without the input of an HEI, but are enhanced and sometimes re-energised by the support of the university, not just in ﬁnancial terms, but in raising the proﬁle, engaging a vibrant student audience and drawing on the resources of staff. This is a further expression of the university as civic anchor, utilising its presence to enhance and extend social capital in the locality. In addition to this are the university events to which the institution not only opens its doors, but also actively invites and encourages the public to engage and participate. Such initiatives and activities include art and fashion shows, technology events as well as larger events such as the Lancashire Science Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors including local school children and the public. The festival proﬁles the work of the university and is interactive in content, it provides insights into the types of work undertaken within the sector and with stakeholders and also proﬁles research and courses at the university. Events like the science festival also have a role to play in demonstrating the accessibility of the university in widening access and increasing diversity. It provides local schoolchildren and families with hands-on experiences which can be a catalyst to aspirations in the STEM sector, whether through the university or elsewhere. Events such as the science festival render the boundaries between city and university more permeable. UCLan has a ‘drop in’ shop-front location in the city which engages in charitable projects as well as being a ‘window’ on the university for local people enabling accessibility and demonstrating connection with the issues that are important in the locality. Some activities straddle campus and town facilitating a connection between residents and the university. One example of this at UCLan is the ‘random acts of kindness’ day which engages many students and staff. Although primarily a campus-based activity, it also extends to the railway station and high
A community within a community
street and gains much press attention. It has become a focus for illustrating and demonstrating the values of the university community in a desire to connect positively with each other and with the wider population. University estates have a huge visual, practical and commercial impact on the wider community. Campus design can enhance a location and inﬂuence the character and feel of a city or an area. Decisions about appearance, accessibility, which include practical decisions about road use, how parking is managed, positioning of services such as catering outlets, all have an impact on local residents and local businesses. Management of student safety, student support and student experience all have an impact on the town or city. Universities can play an important role in enhancing the impressions of a location, whilst any detrimental press coverage can likewise have a negative impact. It is therefore important that major changes to a university campus such as building projects involve consultation with the community. A university which seeks to widen access and equip and empower people for change seeks to avoid being seen as remote or inaccessible, but rather as a ‘learning space’ that is welcoming and inclusive. One example of community involvement was the regeneration and refurbishment of the ‘multi-faith centre.’ Following extensive consultation with the student union, this evolved into a wellbeing centre with faith facilities and was called ‘Oasis’ to reﬂect its function as an inclusive, accessible, wellbeing space. Central to being an inclusive community within a geographical area or neighbourhood is the commitment to building a community on campus. This can be a very challenging endeavour particularly when many students travel to study or commute and when the ﬁnancial demands imposed across the sector on students require many of them to work long hours around study. Add to this the mature students with family and work commitments and the high proportion of students for whom placements make up 50% of their study programme and the challenges of creating a localised community on a campus are clear. The ways in which universities are traditionally organised lends itself to students feeling more connected with their subject or discipline than with the wider university. Some schools may have a strong focus on forming a discipline community, often where there is a tradition of this within the subject ﬁeld either nationally or in the school. It is traditional in some areas such as law and medicine to have student societies which reﬂect the culture of professional societies. As already mentioned nonmonetised social spaces, active attention to shaping services in relation to student feedback and strong partnership with the Student’s Union help to create community. But other factors are also important such as paying attention to a shared identity as well as a shared space. The consistent,
74 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg authentic commitment to student voice can play a large role in ensuring that students feel that the university is ‘their’ community and that it is consistently focused on their needs and experience. The expression of shared values, visibility of student support and both central and dispersed student spaces contribute to a sense of community. Smaller measures which encourage people to linger and participate: snooker and table tennis tables in shared spaces which are free to use, a piano in the union thoroughfare, are not important in themselves, but contribute to the invitation to engage, creating a more cohesive community feel to the campus, gardens and green spaces and can also provide a stimulus to connect with others and to remain on campus. Shared values are not just about a commitment to expressed priorities, they are also about the lived experience of the community. Drop-in sessions with senior team members, regular face-to-face brieﬁngs with the opportunity for questions, an open-door policy for senior staff. All contribute to a culture of community. Reward and recognition processes can include awards that are nominated by students and can include more than just good teaching. The ‘I Heart You’ awards and ‘Golden Roses’ at UCLan are examples of where students have shaped the categories and type of awards. Hence the awards reﬂect the issues that students would like to see rewarded, these include not only good teaching, but also supportive supervision and pastoral support. This places students at the heart of the community ensuring that the things that matter to them are identiﬁed and celebrated. Partnership links are an important part of being embedded within a community. Partnership colleges have the potential to extend the geographical footprint of those who identify with, and feel part of,the community of a university. One of the challenges facing higher education institutions is that of managing diverse campuses and having a community which includes and incorporates all the sites of the institution. There are many ways in which the approach to community mirrors the learning and teaching emphasis on ‘pedagogy, people and places.’ The culture of the community is centred on excellence in learning, but not restricted to assessed subjects. This is the learning which focuses on approach as well as content, paying attention to inclusivity and accessibility. Prioritising these threads in the curriculum also raises the proﬁle of these characteristics in other settings. People are at the centre of community and a positive approach to partnerships, involvement of students in decision making and staff engagement are all important in building a strong community. This is not a challenge for the faint hearted, the engagement of people in a community takes constant and consistent work to ensure that people feel that they are connected to their institution and to address and try to
A community within a community
remedy the moments and occasions when inevitably people will feel disconnected at moments of change and at points when the sector and its component institutions are responding to external pressures within the system. Places are important in creating not only appropriate spaces for learning, but places which support wellbeing. Technology has had a huge impact on the working environment in all sectors. For example email culture enabled through wiﬁ communications and access to devices at all hours has resulted in the merging of work–life boundaries. This in turn has enabled new working practices, sometimes forced by pressure on space or ﬁnancial constraints and which can lead to dissatisfaction or frustration. However if technological change is embraced it can enable employers to create connected, inclusive and positive communities within both organisations and the wider community in which it is situated. Communities are fragile eco systems that need to be nurtured. This chapter has outlined the complex nature of a higher education community. To maximise the opportunity for success of the contemporary higher education learner, the provider needs to acknowledge these communities and the role that they play as an inﬂuencer of its current and future members who will continue to shape and forge the future.
References Guardian. (2017) www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/02/st-maarten-studentsdisplaced-hurricane-irma-move-university-central-lancashire Lancashire Economic Partnership. (2016) Economic Contribution, Colleges, Training Providers and HEIs in Lancashire Final Report, May 2016. Preece, J. (2017) University Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning. Midrand, South Africa: Palgrave Macmillan. Preston City Council. (2017) www.preston.gov.uk/thecouncil/the-preston-model /preston-model/
Communities of practice and continuing professional development for the real world Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
Lave and Wenger (1991) have written extensively about communities of practice (COP). A Community of practice is a group of people who share a craft or profession. Etienne Wenger later articulated a COP as ‘groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.’ It is a description that could easily apply to lots of different groups within a university or within a discipline. When ﬁrst conceived it was thought that communities of practice could not be generated but occurred naturally, but more recent views suggest that the right environment can be created for a COP to thrive, or that they can be created by putting people together. This notion of ‘situated knowledge’ has signiﬁcant traction in the practice of learning and teaching and also within the professional education of those students who are ‘becoming’ a professional in a certain group. These students are learning the knowledge, skills and cultural practices of the wider group. It is a process of ‘belonging’, of generating an identity which is recognisable and valued with a group and which conveys a level of legitimacy on the individual as a member of that group. It is increasingly important for people to feel that they are connected and belong, both to the localised groups in which they work, but also to the larger community. As work becomes more technologically connected the proximity to others, to working collectively together, subtly shifts and it is more of a likelihood that individuals will become isolated and feel remote. It is interesting to note that one of the areas in which an early community of practice emerged was within an ELearning on a Master’s programme in sustainability. This is a group which could be prone to fragmentation, as it is difﬁcult to form a group dynamic with no requirement to be on campus or in a shared space. Elearners do not have the opportunity to physically meet and support each other on campus. The necessity for being in a shared space or even on campus is lessened by the fact that there are no
Communities of practice and CPD for the real world
students on campus to physically meet and support. As support moves online it can form silos of individual connection residing in the email inboxes of individual staff. The decision to ensure that Elearning students are enabled to experience being part of something bigger than their own course of study is central to establishing not just an on-line course but a virtual community. In successful Elearning initiative it is people rather than the systems or technologies that enable the development of not just their own community, but an approach to developing a positive and proactive on-line ‘campus’ in which students feel a sense of belonging to programme and institution. Establishing an on-line community and COP is about paying attention to the need to be able to share skills and identity and to interact regularly and effectively in a way which is facilitated, but not too bounded. In other words, it is about ways to enable students and their tutors to interact at a personal level and not just as consumers of information on a course. This is largely achieved through the use of chat rooms, ﬂipped classroom, facilitated discussions and the social spaces which are also available on line. This is a community of practice which has been facilitated and enabled to emerge from a particular approach to education. This is however, also a good example of how communities of practice coalesce spread, reproduce and overlap. The case study below demonstrated how the Elearning team at the heart of this community, have also been key in the development of another internal community of practice which has incorporated not only those with an interest in Elearning, but also colleagues with an interest in technology-enhanced learning. They have inﬂuenced the faculty, utilising their own experience, to connect staff in different disciplines within the faculty centred on learning and teaching. A regional interuniversity community of practice has also begun to emerge. COP develop not only through connection, but by the positive creation of spaces in which to share with, support and learn from each other.
COP at faculty level – a culture of engagement One UCLan faculty has worked closely with the concept of developing communities of practice. The Director of Academic Development has transformed the existing staff ‘away day’ which was predicated on sharing key information and updates across the Faculty into a learning and teaching event. This event takes the form of a mini conference and staff are invited to present their work. Sessions include evaluations of projects and initiatives, pedagogic research and best practice. In the early days the staff were encouraged by personal invitation to share their work and experiences, but as communities of practice developed
78 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg the emphasis shifted from a model which required persuasion to a model which was based on peer sharing and the conﬁdent participation in a community around pedagogy (Gurbutt, et al., 2019). The transformation from fulﬁlling a requirement to spontaneous sharing of practice is a cultural shift which is marked by an underlying shift in values. It has resulted in an acknowledgement of the intrinsic beneﬁt in sharing best practice; conﬁdence, which is typiﬁed by colleagues being willing and keen to share practice and collaboration. It is about creating a co-operative and comfortable space in which to cross fertilise ideas and approaches. This encapsulates the importance of creating learning spaces for staff as well as students and capturing and developing the essence of a learning organisation. Senge et al. (1994) argued that a learning organisation consists of a group of people working together collectively to enhance and enable their ability and capacity to create results around issues that matter to them. A learning organisation is characterised by: systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision and team learning. These are the features of an interconnected community and share some common ground with communities of practice. Senge described organisations that could become more of a community and enable individuals to feel more committed to the organisation. Effective learning for staff and the establishment of spaces in which to learn be they physical, social or virtual helps to establish a culture of learning which impacts students, as the lived experience of active learning has a positive effect on the art and craft of teaching.
COP within and beyond discipline Communities of practice are rooted in a culture which facilitates connection. This aspect of culture is often not evenly spread across higher education institutions. Some groups of staff are potentially more likely to connect because of the environment in which they work, with shared social spaces or a shared identity, or because of the key characteristics of their disciplinary or occupational identity. For example, colleagues working in creative ﬁelds are often accustomed to collaborative ventures particularly in areas like performing arts where multiple professions coalesce around a production. Communities of practice such as these will often occur quite naturally around a shared project or endeavour and may have some longevity as working relationships enable continuation. These could potentially be described as COP which are anticipated as a likely outcomes of shared identity, opportunity to connect and shared ‘craft’ or interest. However, some COP emerge in non-traditional
Communities of practice and CPD for the real world
groupings. As new connections form between disciplinary groups, these COP are formed around disciplinary knowledge and the desire to share, extend and celebrate knowledge and skills. Examples would include networks around ‘arts and health’, ‘public service’ or ‘criminal justice.’ Such COP align subject interests and extend the margins of what is included within the group.
COP by pedagogy: the active role of learning and teaching Other COP emerge around a broader interest, such as pedagogy. A shared interest in learning and teaching can attract staff from any discipline area as it underpins all disciplinary curricula. Within this context COP may emerge around particular approaches. Due to the investment in Digital Shift (a university-wide initiative to expand and enhance technology-enhanced learning) there has been a huge increase in the various communities committed to sharing and advancing the use of technology in education. Having a technology-enhanced learning team (TELT) has provided a focus for multiple communities to thrive. Some are predicated on one particular aspect of technology use such as ELearning or ﬂipped classroom. As seen earlier (Chapter 4) a recognition scheme has been introduced to acknowledge acquired expertise in digital learning and this has advanced the development of CPD as it is easier to locate staff with shared knowledge and interests. The use of applications such as Microsoft teams, enables communities to be broad and inclusive. The role of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) is also as an enabler in creating the environments in which COP can ﬂourish. Annual conferences on learning and teaching, collaborative working and digital technology provide a space from which communities can emerge.
COP by interdisciplinary activity Collaborative practice and interdisciplinary activity enables another type of COP to thrive, these are often communities which are more broadly deﬁned, focused on the student experience, but also with a clear link to employability and learning for the real world. Interdisciplinary COP brings together and overlaps with COP centred on pedagogy and subjects, but also focuses on innovation, problem solving around the constraints of curriculum and links with stakeholders. On occasion the practice of interdisciplinary working can be about looking between the layers of curriculum and syllabus to ﬁnd areas of shared content and shared aspirations and experiences. At other times it focuses on the
80 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg cross-cutting themes of graduate experience: problem solving, team work, communication and prioritisation. It also includes a focus on building conﬁdence and competence in students and helping them to reﬂect on their own skills. The COP emerging in this area has a focus on innovation, creativity and experimentation as well as on more traditional aspects of shared activity and interest. In some ways interdisciplinary COP lends itself to the deﬁnition of a learning community, sharing vision and team learning.
COP beyond the campus Increasingly organisations external to the university recognise the beneﬁts of COP, particularly when being enabled to observe the advantages of COP within HEIs. Organisations like the NHS view COP as a way of connecting staff and patients for service improvement and many examples exist of a COP approach in the service (NHS, 2016). Some COP can be formed using the staff and students of a university as a catalyst to facilitate a COP within a context or setting. Some CPD programmes utilise action learning sets and often a consequence of these groupings is the evolution into COP. Other groups actively seek advice on how to establish COP trying to identify shared skills, potential connections and shared passions within existing groups. Alumni also form COP, one public health programme resulted in a COP comprised of members of a cohort that remained active many years after the course had been completed, focusing on the learning from shared challenges across the globe. Continuing professional development offers participants of groups the context in which to transform into a COP over time.
Continuing professional development supporting curriculum design CPD is not just about the creation of courses which can be marketed outside of the university. It is also a component of the ongoing learning of students on designated schemes (such as PASS) and also staff as they continue their professional development as teachers. An initiative to utilise academic developers to coach and mentor academic staff in relation to course development and design resulted in a focus on differing elements of curriculum including the assessment burden, the demands of assessment, constructive alignment and spiral curriculum. These are the types of element that may become embedded in academic professional apprenticeships as part of ‘on the job’ learning, but currently are areas
Communities of practice and CPD for the real world
which many new staff ‘pick up’ rather than are actively taught. A learning culture is one which identiﬁes learning needs and builds in systems and processes to support them. CPD also takes the form for academic staff, where appropriate, of learning from stakeholders the contemporary real-world applications of theory and theoretical perspectives. There is a need for continuing and clear involvement with stakeholders and industrial partners to enable the ongoing professional development of practitioners and experts who have moved into teaching.
CPD supporting curriculum delivery CPD also supports curriculum delivery. This can be around the CELT workshop style approach which assists teachers in not just the knowledge but the skills required for contemporary education practice and teaching. As mentioned earlier in Chapter 6, as campuses change to become different in character and substance, so the skill requirements of academic staff need to adjust. There is a need for spaces in which to practise new skills and also to uncover them by a process of discovery. This type of exploratory activity is increasingly squeezed in academic life. Groups using Microsoft teams and other applications are able to share learning and provide tutorials and guidance for others on the effective use of systems. Learning and teaching leads can organise successful events where initiatives are shared and best practice disseminated. Conferences and internal events, awards and workshops are all places in which CPD can be experienced in more non-traditional ways and increasingly organisations such as the Teaching Excellence Alliance and other groups seek to cascade best practice and innovation across the sector. The challenge is constantly to consider the student experience and identify ways for the learning of staff to enhance the learning of students in a cycle of development, improving delivery, accessibility and inclusivity by the range of modes available.
CPD for and with stakeholders Identifying and creating learning spaces for stakeholder CPD is an increasingly complex issue. For some sectors, such as health, the challenges of engaging with CPD include not only the ﬁnancial constraints but also the problems with releasing staff to engage with educational programmes. This has resulted in a reconsideration of how CPD is delivered and what the key learning elements need to be. One model involves breaking CPD down into smaller component parts to allow the staff to compete multiple elements in short bursts of study. The need to
82 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg reconﬁgure and re-vision CPD is driven by the development of technology-enhanced learning, personalised learning and a blurring of the boundaries between topics. Staff in the various disciplines require a more ﬂexible approach to CPD with a lower cost attached. The issues are compounded by the number of private providers who also offer training and education as part of CPD provision. It is imperative that higher education institutions lay claim to the expertise and excellence of educators to design, deliver and evaluate CPD. Teaching is not just telling and learning is more than listening and academic staff are well placed to educate as well as inform.
CPD as sector drivers: Microsoft conference UCLan as part of its digital development has worked closely with Microsoft, using their Surface Pro devices as the technology of choice to underpin the digital shift. This has resulted in multiple beneﬁts in terms of mobility of staff when working, access to universal programmes and university-wide information wherever one is located on campus and also the ability to collaborate easily and effectively using technology and to support colleagues via applications. The work with Microsoft also resulted in the development of annual joint conferences with UCLan to share experiences of technology and to disseminate experience of working collectively with technology to support teaching. This forms part of the CPD available to academic staff not only within the host institution but also across the sector.
Creativity and CPD: changing for a new world Education is changing and CPD is a part of that change. The requirement is for ﬂexible, accessible and bespoke learning which enables participants to learn at their own pace and to personalise their learning to meet their speciﬁc needs. Personalised learning is becoming popular within some HEIs in Europe as a way of engaging students with learning and enabling them to focus on the learning elements that are new or problematic to them rather than giving all course components the same time and attention irrespective of an individual’s prior learning. Personalised learning comprises a wide array of educational programmes, learning experiences, training, instruction and support strategies for learning that are intended to speciﬁcally address the learning requirements of individuals. This can be based on their backgrounds, prior learning and interests. Although personalised learning has been criticised in the school sector for lowering expectations with regard to the most disadvantaged students TES (2018),
Communities of practice and CPD for the real world
there is an argument that CPD beneﬁts from some level of personalised learning input. Considering the merits and demerits of different approaches to all types of learning, including CPD and using the resources that exist around the curriculum, such as peer learning and support, as is the case with communities of practice, are some of the ways in which learning and the spaces in which it takes place are evolving to meet the needs of current learners.
References Gurbutt, D., Melia, C. and Williams, K. (2019) From World Café to Community of Practice. UClan Journal of Pedagogic Research, 8. Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. NHS. (2016) www.england.nhs.uk/signuptosafety/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/ 2015/09/ahsn-network-communities-of-practice.pdf Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R.B. and Smith, B.J. (1994). The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday. TES. (2018) www.tes.com/news/pupils-trapped-personalised-learning
Conclusions Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg
Here through the lens of changing learning environments we have considered the ways in which contemporary higher education has and is adapting. Learning and digital technologies have shaped many of the pedagogic transformations in education over the past decade. Our focus has been the organisation; its culture and its community, recognising the need to build, evolve and rebuild learning environments. The role and responsibility of higher education as an enabler to social mobility has similarly shaped this transformation.
Technology Similar to other education domains and workplaces technology can be recognised as an enabler for change. In our sector it also creates the need to change and to keep adapting. Through technologies everyone has access to all the information they may ever need, the skill and the challenge is to make sense of this plethora of facts, ﬁgures and opinions, identifying the fact from the ﬁction and turning this into knowledge that can be applied. At a higher level the emphasis is to equip learners with the skills to seek and apply knowledge. The role of the academic is to facilitate and test this deep learning. The academic is no longer the holder of all the knowledge, indeed very few careers now require the ability to know everything. With ready access to information the contemporary world requires skills to learn and through this to search, codify and apply what is readily available. The pace of technological change has had a generational effect which results in an at times greater conﬁdence and competence from the recipients of the learning than the providers. Universities are themselves at the forefront of these advances, but this expertise often sits within specialist teams. To this end technological advances have changed student expectations and
skills in ways which may be unfamiliar or challenging to academic colleagues. This is not just a discourse around technical skills, but one which fundamentally challenges the shape and scope of the careers of some academics. For those that have kept pace, this is another transition to be exploited and celebrated. For those who have not, this can be seen as a threat to their role and a need to recalibrate their approach to teaching. Higher education institutes (HEIs) cannot ignore the impact, but need to provide the frameworks to enable innovation and to sensitively change the environment and expectation. Here we have shared some case studies which have enhanced practice. Furthermore technologies change the way in which we engage with one another. Learning communities are not new, but the way in which these communities build and develop is. Through the preceding chapters reference is made to the university community and the opportunity and complexity which comes with this. In virtual, usually diverse and often international communities for learning, technology has a powerful role to play. The personal and human element nevertheless remains. Culture and shared endeavour have an enhanced importance.
Social responsibility Another underlying theme throughout the preceding chapters is that of social responsibility. On one level higher education providers in the UK are multi-million pound organisations offering learning and research products and services, regulated by the Ofﬁce for Students. At another level they are more deeply rooted in communities as part of the fabric of the city or region. They are charitable bodies, public services acting as civic anchors: major employers making large contributions to the local economy. This implies a social responsibility which extends well beyond the bricks and mortar of university buildings, and well beyond the direct needs of current students and staff. At national policy level universities have a requirement through access and participation agreements to establish and fulﬁl requirements to widen participation, engage in outreach activities and equality of outcomes for all. This responsibility is usually recognised and prioritised in university vision and mission statements. The diversiﬁcation of the student population is more than welcomed, it is embraced and encouraged through all aspects of the work of the university. Leadership, services, buildings, curriculum, assessment, social facilities and career opportunities all need to champion opportunity for all to break down the barriers that still exist for so many with the will and capability to succeed. Underpinning this ambition is the need to create
86 Dawne J. Gurbutt and Rachel M. Cragg belonging within communities which are inclusive of those who already inhabit them and those who are as yet not integrated. The role of a contemporary university is to recognise how and where learning occurs and to create inclusive physical and psychological spaces to enable effective learning for all regardless of background.
Culture A volume such as this cannot conclude without a ﬁnal word on the role of culture. ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’: this phrase, originated by Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields in his role as president at Ford, is often quoted and continues to ring true. Whilst strategy is important in guiding activity, it alone cannot make change happen. People make change happen, people are enabled by strategy, by tools (technology, physical infrastructure, resource), or by good leadership. It is our culture, our sense of belonging and ‘being’ that drives change. Culture is not the premise of a single individual or leadership team, it deﬁnes ideas, customs and social behaviour. Communities are often deﬁned by their culture and through this deﬁne and embrace change. Higher education providers rarely operate in a strictly hierarchical way, academic autonomy is recognised and valued and independence of thought is encouraged. Cultural change therefore will struggle to be accepted if actioned through instruction, it needs to be embodied through signs and symbols embedded within communities who feel valued and engaged. Change is exciting, exhilarating and to be embraced. By embracing the opportunities to think differently, to behave differently and to take advantage of changing contexts embodied within a culture of innovation and creativity, higher education can provide new norms by which it will continue to enable its community of learners to succeed. This is underpinned through active engagement of students and staff with a common purpose to make a positive contribution to society through knowledge, innovation and skills.
American University of the Caribbean 29, 71 apprenticeships 6, 49, 51, 66, 80 assessment 15, 21, 24, 30, 31, 41, 46, 47, 80, 85 CAIPE see Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education 6, 10, 11 Centres for Excellence in Learning and Teaching 9, 27 civic 7, 66, 70, 73, 85 collaboration 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17–19, 24, 47, 52, 78 collaborative 9, 10–11, 14, 17, 19, 20, 25, 28, 30, 35–36, 40, 56, 67, 78 collaborative working 4, 20, 41, 79 community engagement 24, 29, 67, 72, 75 community of practice (COP) 54, 76–80 competency 55 competent 18 continuing professional development (CPD) 38, 40, 79–83 co-production 8 cost 5, 15, 17, 34, 61, 82 creative 9, 20, 23–25, 2, 27, 30, 31, 34–36, 42, 48, 51, 55, 78 creativity 14, 23–27, 29, 30, 32, 54, 56, 67, 80, 82, 86 cross-cutting 30
cross-cutting groups 13 culture 1, 7, 13–14, 16–17, 20–21, 23, 25, 27–29, 61–62, 66, 69, 73–78, 81, 85–86 curriculum 7, 11, 13–16, 18–21, 23–25, 29–32, 42, 47, 53, 63, 64, 67, 74, 79–81, 83, 85 curriculum delivery 63, 81 cyber university 50 Dearing, Sir Ronald 5, 9, 35, 48, 60, 69 Dearing Report (1997) 5, 9, 35, 48, 60, 67 degree apprenticeships 6, 51, 66 Digital Shift 31, 48, 56, 79, 82 diversity 6, 8, 18, 55–56, 59, 62, 64, 72 EIPEN see European Interprofessional Education Network ELearning 4, 17, 39, 49, 50, 52–53, 61, 76, 79 employability 6, 7, 12, 20, 24, 30, 32, 52, 64, 67, 79 employers 3, 7, 11, 63, 66, 70, 75, 85 enterprise 6, 7, 12, 23, 30, 67 European Interprofessional Education Network 11 feedback 37 fees 5, 17, 51, 60 ﬂipped classroom 4, 8, 24, 31, 49, 59, 77, 79
88 Index geography 8, 50 global 3 global graduate 3 Goffman, E. 17, 21 Gurbutt, D.J. and Gurbutt, R. 24 Gurbutt, D.J. and McPhail, L.. 18, 22 Gurbutt, D.J., Melia, C. and Williams, K. 78 Gurbutt, D.J. and Milne, P. 15, 18, 19, 20, 22 Gurbutt, D.J. and Williams, K. 17 Gurbutt, R. et al. 18, 22, 51, 57 IDE see Interdisciplinary Education identity 4, 5, 7, 11–13, 18, 21, 49, 50, 55, 57, 73, 76–78 impact 3–5, 20, 23, 26–31, 33, 34–37, 59, 61, 70–75, 85 inclusive 8–9, 18, 25, 28–29, 46, 52, 62–63, 73, 75, 79, 86 innovation 2, 9, 17, 25–28, 30, 31, 35, 56, 61, 79, 80–81, 85–86 interdisciplinary education 11, 13–18 interprofessional education 11 IPE see Interprofessional education knowledge 1-8-12 14, 15, 17, 20–24, 26, 30, 32, 35, 40, 64, 50–56, 59–61, 71, 75–79, 84, 86 Kubler-Ross, E.M. and Kessler, D. 26, 32 Lave, J. and Wenger, E. 17, 22, 25, 76, 83 learning and teaching strategy 14, 22, 23, 32, 63 learning community 9, 71, 80 learning environment 1, 2, 6, 9, 16–18, 24, 32, 45, 56, 59, 60, 85 learning gain 6 learning spaces 2, 4, 7, 8, 12, 14, 16–18, 24, 25–27, 37, 54, 56, 59, 71, 78, 81 learning strategy 9 Leeson, P. 2, 9 Microsoft teams 79, 81
National Student Survey 5, 9, 65 Ofﬁce for Students 6, 10, 32, 85 pedagogy 8, 14, 17, 24, 26, 31, 35, 38, 40, 50, 52, 63, 74, 78–79 peer review 16, 54 Preston Model 70 professional bodies 10, 12 Race, P. 54, 57 Research Excellence Framework 10 Shapin, S. and Schaeffer, S. 2, 9 simulation 2, 8, 18, 24, 49 skills 1–8, 11–18, 20–26, 31, 41, 45–47, 51–66, 76, 77, 79–86 social change 6, 56, 61 social connection 8, 49 social media 3, 4, 13, 51, 59, 60 social spaces 13, 26, 28, 48, 51, 73, 77–78 socially immersive learning 27, 50, 57 spaces for learning 13, 59, 75 strategy 9, 11, 13, 14, 23, 25, 33–35, 40, 48, 63, 66, 86 student body 8, 28, 29, 50, 63, 70, 71 student experience 5, 13, 16, 24–26, 30, 31, 33, 46, 48, 49, 50, 52, 59–64, 73, 79, 81 student voice teacher 2, 16, 17, 27, 57, 58, 59, 60, 67, 81 teaching excellence 15, 25 Teaching Excellence Alliance 13, 22, 31, 81 Teaching Excellence Framework 5, 9, 10, 60 transdisciplinary 12 transformational learning 22, 55 universities UK 4, 9, 59, 68 University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) 7, 9, 14, 20, 22, 23, 29, 31,
Index 32, 35, 37, 38, 42, 43, 48, 67, 71, 72, 73, 74, 77, 82, 83 virtual learning 8, 24, 45 virtual learning environment 24, 45
wellbeing 3, 8, 59, 60, 64, 68, 69, 73, 75 wicked problems 10, 51, 54, 56 widening participation 6, 13, 21, 28, 29, 60, 65 work based learning 24