Professional Development

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Bookended by puberty and culturally defined adult roles, it is now established that adolescence extends from age 10 to age 24. The inner workings of the adolescent brain and how these workings develop and are expressed in behaviours and engagement with the external world have been the focus of an explosion of research inquiry. Seated in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, cognitive abilities such as decision-making, planning, self-control, social interaction and self-awareness only develop by the mid-twenties. In addition, the brain regions governing risk-taking and reward are intensely active in adolescence, and so influence behaviour, which is also shaped by context and expectations of others.

To realise student success, higher education institutions must take into account that the majority (88% in 2017/2018) (HEA, 2018) of their students are still adolescents, without fully developed cognitive, social, emotional and self-regulatory capacities, living and learning in a socio-cultural environment that offers less external regulation than ever before. The knowledge that many students in higher education are in developmental transition spotlights opportunities to construct academic and campus contexts that supports this transition.

Drawing on this knowledge, and expertise in occupational science/therapy, psychology and neuroscience, we held ‘DOTS – Developing Opportunities for Transitions in Students’ Seminar to inform stakeholders of the biobehavioural transitions that influence undergraduate wellbeing and academic achievement in the current socio-cultural climate. The seminar was led by Dr. Eithne Hunt (Dept. Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy), Dr. Samantha Dockray (School of Applied Psychology), and Prof. Yvonne Nolan (Dept. Anatomy & Neuroscience), and 64 attendees gathered across academic and professional services and HEIs nationally. Presentation topics ranged from brain development in adolescence, to risks and opportunities relating to student life, and practical strategies for enhancing student success. Cross-sector participation was facilitated through panel discussion on learning, teaching, assessment and student support strategies. Opportunities for HE staff and structures to leverage the potential of developmental transitions that influence academic experiences and graduate attributes were discussed. The seminar was well received by staff across a range of disciplines, in particular, attendees commented on the range of perspectives presented, the strong evidence-base, and the applied value of the content presented, as it relates to the students’ experience in HEIs.

This report arises from the #Openteach: Professional Development for Open Online Educators project, which is funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.The #Openteach project team are based in the Open Education Unit (OEU) at Dublin City University (DCU).

The main aim of the #Openteach project was to produce, and evaluate, evidence-based open professional development for part-time online educators. In anearlier phase of the project a literature review called Teaching Online is Different: Critical perspectives from the literaturewas completed in order to identify online educator roles and the associated competencies for effective online teaching (Ní Shé, Farrell, Brunton, Costello, Donlon, Trevaskis, Eccles, 2019). Concurrently, we conducted a needs analysisreport of the target population, online students and their online educators (Farrell, Brunton, Costello, Donlon, Trevaskis, Eccles, Ní Shé, 2019). These reports were used to guide the development of the professional development resources for the #Openteach open online course.

Teaching online is different. In this report we attempt to explain why. This report arises from the #Openteach: Professional Development for Open Online Educators project, which is funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. In this project we plan to uncover and promote the keys to effective online teaching practice, while recognising that effective teaching is an art, craft and science. We aim to harness this knowledge to support the professional learning of online educators. Ultimately we want to support online students to learn online by helping and inspiring their educators. This report was developed to help lay a foundation for the project through a critical analysis of relevant literature

This work arises from the #Openteach: Professional Development for Open Online Educators project, which is funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The #Openteach project team are based in the Open Education Unit (OEU) at Dublin City University (DCU). Formally known as the National Distance Education Centre and subsequently Oscail, the OEU is a provider of online, off-campus programmes through the DCU Connected platform. Throughout the years the mode of delivery moved gradually from that of a traditional distance education provider to incorporate more elements of online learning. A significant step in this process came in 2011, with the introduction of synchronous live online tutorials and the electronic delivery of modules in a virtual learning environment (Delaney & Farren, 2016; Farrell & Seery, 2019). Following an open and online learning philosophy, the OEU aims to afford educational opportunities to students who have not managed to access more traditional entry routes into higher education.

The #Openteach project aims to generate new knowledge about effective online teaching practice and to harness this new knowledge to support the professional development of online teachers and to more effectively support online student learning experiences.

#OpenTeach Website

CC BY-NC

The Higher Education Language Educator Competences (HELECs) Framework has been developed by
an inter-institutional team of language teachers and applied linguists in Ireland. The project was
funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
and supported by the four partner institutions, University College Cork (lead), Dublin City University,
Maynooth University and Waterford Institute of Technology. The aims of the HELECs framework are:
• To work toward the goals of the national languages strategy, Languages Connect: Ireland’s
Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education (2017), with particular reference to increasing
capacity and enhancing the learning environment.
• To provide a tool for language educators and their managers with which they can self-assess
and articulate their competences.
• To work toward a professionalisation of the field of language teaching and learning in higher
education in Ireland.
In the following sections we outline our target audience for this framework, describe the
development process, and provide the details of the framework including the competence
identifiers, the competence domains and the competence descriptors.

This resource was developed from the SATLE 2018 initiative: Higher Education Language Educators’ Competences.

The HELECs Project is funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

This inter-institutional project investigates the range of language teacher skills needed in higher education (HE). The purpose of the project is to develop an empirically informed professional development framework.

The framework will provide individual teachers and programme developers with a reference point and practical tools, based on a comprehensive profile of language teaching skills, to ensure that all HE language teachers are appropriately supported in their work.

The HELECs Team comprises Applied Linguists and language education experts from four partner universities , UCC (Lead), DCU, MU and WIT.

HELECs project website

CC BY-NC
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