Academic Exchange 2: Reshaping our future graduates within and beyond the classroom

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Tuesday 8 June, 11.30-13.00

Recording of the Academic Exchange

i. What does it take to lead reimagined education? The Higher Education Leadership Qualities and Skills (HELQS) framework and the need to beat immunity to change 

David Dawson (Business School) 

This exchange introduces the HELQS framework as a way of reflecting on what it takes to be a leader in Higher Education (HE). The presentation is based on the premise that anyone can lead change for their area of responsibility in HE. It will be of interest to anyone who wants to reimagine HE whether it be at the level of a session they teach, a module, school, or institution.  

The key message is that developing the qualities and skills outlined in the HELQS is important, but on its own is unlikely to lead to a position where we have reimagined HE. Using case studies from the MHELM project, which has developed an HE leadership programme for Moldova, it is argued that the qualities and skills in the framework need to be allied with the ability to reflect on our fundamental attitudes to change.  

It will be demonstrated that using the immunity to change methodology can help promote reflection on the fundamental blockages to change faced by HE leaders. By enabling leaders to confront those blockages, fundamental changes in behaviour can be produced, allowing reimagined futures to become reality. 

ii. Can you workshop that for me, please? Making sense in and of borderland spaces in marketing education 

Ruffin Relja (Business School)   

Although student employability is a key concern in higher education in general and at the University of Gloucestershire (UoG) in particular, the skill gap remains and risks widening. The present contribution argues that students and educators must move into borderland spaces, i.e. “unfamiliar physical or metaphorical territories” (Hill, Thomas, Diaz, & Simm, 2016, p. 379), to narrow the gap between academia and industry.

In this exchange, I share experiences made with choice-based, student-led trend workshops in a Level 5 marketing module at UoG. Students were invited to self-select into theme-based groups. They collaboratively researched topics, prepared, and ran workshops related to trends in the luxury industry. These borderland spaces were purposefully designed to satisfy diverse learners’ needs and goals, increase student motivation, and to promote deep and strategic learning, which ultimately affect students’ wellbeing, satisfaction, and perceived course quality.

The presentation offers initial recommendations for implementing inclusive psychological learning spaces based on academic literature, student and peer feedback, as well as reflections on my personal experiences as educator and former marketing practitioner. However, this contribution is first and foremost an invitation to participate in an academic dialogue aimed at making sense of borderland learning spaces.

iii. Elastic Learning: machine learning approaches and designing experiences for students post-pandemic

James Dalby (School of Media) 

In this presentation, I will reference the work of Mlodinow (2018) and Kurzweil (2014) to draw parallels and discrepancies between the worlds of human and machine learning in order to examine assumptions we may currently make about human learning, particularly in a post-pandemic environment, and how we might ameliorate or design our way around them.  

If we accept Lanier’s (2011) suggestion that increasing reliance and interdependency on computing technologies has influenced our thought processes to become more ‘machine-like’, then after a year or more of online learning, we may extrapolate an increasing tendency in this respect amongst the student body.   

My presentation will examine fundamental problems with this approach, in an immediately accessible way, with classic thought-experiment examples. This is something that pre-Covid we have segued into perhaps uncritically, but which for more than a year has been a fundamental necessity. With a clear emphasis on problem-based learning, I will invite the audience to think about introducing ‘elastic thinking’ approaches to teaching and learning to hopefully counter some of the trends that online-only learning may have produced. 

iv. Changing inside and out: two educational responses to the sustainability challenge 

Paul Vare (School of Education and Humanities) and Elena Lengthorn (University of Worcester)

A recent teacher survey revealed that 70% of respondents felt ill-prepared to teach climate change. So what can be done? While the Government resists calls for necessary curriculum change, our own sector is responding.  

UoG’s Education subject community has developed, with colleagues across Europe, a framework of sustainability educator competences called ‘A Rounder Sense of Purpose’. Core to this work has been an elective programme for education students, now part of our BEd programme. We will recount how moving the programme online presented unforeseen advantages both in terms of student learning and our own theoretical understanding of self-determined learning.  

We compare this ‘internal’ reflection with an initiative at Worcester University which takes a citizens’ assembly approach to engage partnership schools in conversations on sustainability in teacher education. Worcester’s Educator Climate Assembly is inviting education stakeholders, from governors and senior leaders to parents and pupils, to hear from expert leads on the regional impacts of climate change on flooding, food security and biodiversity, as well as physical and mental health; following this they will be invited to have their say on teacher training in our time of climate and ecological emergency.  

We aim to end the presentation with a call for your ideas/experiences. 

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