Ever wish you could see what’s coming? In some ways, you now can. UTS’s new learning and teaching blog, Futures, will keep you up-to-date with what’s happening on campus and online, and offer advice on how you can incorporate new ideas and technologies into your subjects.
“Futures is designed to be a community space where people can actually talk about what's going on in learning and teaching,” says Senior Learning Designer Project Manager and Managing Editor of Futures Lucy Arthur. “That could be sharing a tip they have learned from their teaching practice, something innovative they use in the classroom or information on new initiatives.
“We really want it to be the kind of place where people can come and hear from their peers, hear from people in the community and also contribute themselves.”
It’s all about sharing useful information in a bite-sized way
Futures, which was soft-launched at the Teaching and Learning Forum last November, was developed by the team in the Institute for Interactive Media and Learning. It’s aimed at all academic staff (from casual lecturer to professor) and professional staff who support learning and teaching or just want to find out more about what UTS is doing.
Arthur says, “it’s all about sharing useful information in a bite-sized way”.
Futures features a diverse range of content including articles about how to bring Twitter into the classroom, how to apply for grants, and a series of ‘In a nutshell’ posts that explain often-heard yet sometimes-still-mysterious educational terms, like ‘authentic assessment’. (Authentic assessments are realistic assessment tasks that relate what students learn in class to what they will be doing in their future careers, like journalism students live blogging during events or law students drafting a legal document.)
Futures also features interviews with leaders in the learning and teaching field, including UTS’s own Senior Lecturer Ilaria Vanni Accarigi.
Vanni Accarigi is a Senior Lecturer in international studies and she took home the Strengthening the UTS Model of Learning award at last year’s Teaching and Learning Forum. But Vanni Accarigi wasn’t always a pioneer of new teaching and learning methods. In her blog post, she’s frank about her teaching journey: “I started teaching at the beginning of my PhD, and I come from an academic tradition of lectures only. I had no clue.”
Trial and error can be just as important for academics as it is for students.
Lecturer in the Connected Intelligence Centre and subject coordinator of Data Science for Innovation Simon Knight has incorporated blogging into his teaching and research practice for five years. He says, “I’ve found blogging to be a useful way to put ideas out that other people can build on, and evaluate, so that I can incrementally change my practice.
“Some posts have become useful shared artefacts to foster discussion with colleagues. For example, one post has helped start a discussion about developing a course-level approach to writing in data science and resources to support the approach.”
Other posts, adds Knight, are an easy way to keep on top of developments even when you don’t have the time or resources to attend a seminar or read a long-form journal article.
“The blog helps make these resources available beyond the transitory nature of a presentation.
“And it gives you a chance to continue the conversation online or on Twitter.”
We would love to hear from any students who would like to contribute or are interested in the changing world of universities’ teaching
Arthur agrees. “Futures will give teaching staff a place where they can learn about different kinds of teaching outside the content-delivery, lecture-based system. It's increasingly important for those who teach at UTS as that's the way we are moving.”
But it’s not one-size-fits-all. “It’s important for us to engage with a range of disciplines, each one has different challenges, contexts and cohorts of students,” says Arthur. “Making sure we are representing all the different kinds of learning and teaching is crucial.”
And students are invited to share their opinions too. “We would love to hear from any students who would like to contribute or are interested in the changing world of universities’ teaching,” enthuses Arthur.
You can read the blog, find out how to contribute or sign up to the Futures newsletter at futures.uts.edu.au