Getting Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy…it’s a process

I’ve not blogged for a while…and there have been quite a few changes since I last wrote a post. So this will be my semi-regular attempt to get back into the blogging, which will inevitably end with me just stopping. But I’m trying something slightly new. I want to write a series of blog posts on the process I’m goinig on over the next 18 months to get Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. I need to get this to pass my probation as a lectuer, but it’s also something that I am actually quite interested in doing – maybe not so much the actual title (FHEA), but more so the opportunity to learn about how to teach in the Higher Education sector. I feel like erverything I’ve been teaching so far has been based on my experiences and learning of my undergrad degree in Primary School Education. This can be useful, but also 18+ year old students probably need slightly different skills and ways of being taught than 5-13 year old kids!

In my current job, I’m able to take part in the PGCAP course, which is an 18 month, 3-module part time degree that will result in me having a PGDiploma (I think?) and hopefully also the FHEA. So far it seems like a lot of bureaucracy (lots of paper filling for the sake of paper filling), but we also have a 2h session every Wednesday where a very enthusiastic and caring man is giving us some tips about how to teach but also providing us with some theoretical backing for lots of different teaching and learning styles.

It’s been really interesting to get back into pedagogy and to think again more deeply about what I am teaching, how I am teaching it, and why I am teaching it in this way! For the first couple of weeks, I’m going to try to focus on improving diversity and inclusion in my teaching. I started this over the summer when I added a few different readings to the (very small) reading list on the design brief for students that are maybe a little bit out of designers’ comfort zones, but that are so important! I added Alex Ahmed’s ACM Interactions Viewpoint titled ‘Beyond Diversity’ (https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3225621) and Joyojeet Pal’s alt.chi paper ‘CHI4Good or Good4CHI’ (https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3052766). I think both of these raise really important issues, particularly for a module where students are supposed to think about critical design, design fictions, and the societal implications of design.

On top of the reading list though, I’m trying to cover a diversity of topics, that I hope will relate to different students (and I’m asking students what ‘trends and futures’ they’d like to cover as part of the module!). I’m also trying to cover these topics in diverse ways, to facilitate learning for students in different ways – group work, solitary work, research, design, sketching, ideation, etc. again in an attempt to meet students where they are – to develop existing skills but also perhaps sometimes providing them with something slightly new that they maybe havn’t encountered so far.

So, I’ve not said much in this post, but here’s what I’m trying to say: I’m going to use this PGCAP course as an excuse to try to write some blog posts again. They’re going to focus on my teaching, reflections on what has worked and what hasn’t, perhaps some case studies of activities I’ve done with the students, and an analysis of some of my teaching materials.

I’m not going to say whether this series will be weekly or monthly, it’ll probably be when I have time and energy to do this. But I’m hoping writing reflexively throughout the semester (and really the 18 months) will help me develop my teaching in different ways. Maybe it’ll also help me with the assignment(s) I have to submit as part of the PGCAP, but hopefully it’ll also lead to some conversations about learning and teaching in Higher Education (particularly in design eduation) on social media. So here goes.