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About Simon Paul Atkinson

30 Years as an academic practitioner, educational developer, educational technologist, social scientist, e-learning researcher, advisor. Experienced presenter and workshop facilitator. Currently the Head of Learning Design at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand Former Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning (BPP University), Academic Developer (LSE), Director of Teaching and Learning (Massey), Head of Centre for Learning Development (Hull), Academic Developer (Open)

This ten-minute video (10'17") is a series of screen captures from live synchronous webinars taught using Adobe Connect (2015). It is annotated to give you some sense of how to manage interactivity, manage your tone, reflect on the importance of personal presence and to make use of the visual nature of the webinar interface. These examples are taken from a postgraduate teaching qualification but the 'content' is irrelevant. While it is not intended to be a blow-by-blow explanation of how to construct your webinars, once you have access to a webinar room, Connect, Collaborate or other solution, this might give you some ideas as to how you could adapt your teaching practice for this form of synchronous distance teaching. #highered #teaching #webinars

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Short vodcast (3'25") outlining four dimensions to the choices of media that IDs and academic faculty might consider as they make selections to support student learning. Originally a vodcast to accompany internal development it is long enough to provoke some reflective practice, short enough not to waste your time! It invites educational practitioners to think about how they solicit participation from students through media choice. #edtech #teaching #highered

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This six-minute video (6'18") is entitled 'Best Practices in Preparing Online Materials for Webinar facilitation." It is essential guidance for novice webinar teachers. There are 8 tips for preparing your webinar so you do not end up asking questions into the dark abyss and hear nothing back from your students. This screencast was generated for colleagues using AdobeConnect but it is suitable regardless of whether you are using this, or Blackboards Collaborate, ZOOM or any webinar context. Originally recorded in 2015. #elearning #AdobeConnect #webinar #higher #teaching

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This seven-minute video (originally generated as a Podcast produced in 2015) provides a quick overview of 8 ways designers of educational material can ensure clarity for their students. Each is applicable to the development of distance online materials as much as it is to face-to-face visual materials.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a walkthrough of the basics of discussion forums (Moodle, but principles apply). This was recorded in 2015. Please view it as an overview of how to approach developing meaningful seed questions and to think about your moderation strategy.

 

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acutely aware that there are still colleagues with little, or no, experience of supporting students online I thought I would start sharing some elementary resources.

Here's a share of a short (2'52") screencast video that walks through the five steps in Gilly Salmon's E-Moderating model. While it is not universally applicable and it may depend on the discipline, context and level of students, it's a useful guide to make sure new online facilitators are familiar (broadly) with the difference between technical support and facilitation. The emphasis is on 'socialising the student'. Many adult learners choose NOT to engage and good course design will not compel them to participate without just cause.

Salmon, G. (2000). E-moderating: The key to online teaching and learning. Kogan Page.
These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategic Directions in Higher, Vocational and Professional Education: Exploring Contexts

Exploring Context

graphic illustrating the four themes this article explores

Institutional Context

Tertiary providers are increasingly expected to deliver 'work-ready' graduates. This is a challenge when we must acknowledge that many graduates will begin a career, in a year's time or in the three years, that does not exist today (Susskind, R., & Susskind, D., 2017). Identifying the competency frameworks within our disciplines and those of our professional colleagues is a good place to start (Atkinson, 2015). We can then identify a range of graduate attributes that will underpin our programme outcomes and inform the development of real-world assessment.

Challenging Our Assumptions

It is critically important to challenge our assumptions whenever we contemplate introducing any new courses or programmes into our portfolios.

Whether you are designing an individual course or an entire programme, it is important to ‘future-proof’ it to the greatest extent possible. To ensure that it is consistent and logical. If one sees individual courses as self-contained ‘units of learning’ with their own outcomes and assessment, you risk creating problems later on, for course substitutions, updating and student continuity

It is important to question all of our assumptions about the context into which our learning design is intended fit. Despite the fact that you may feel you know your learning context intimately the chances are there will be some contextual evolution. Take the time to go through these questions, if only to confirm your assumptions.

Regardless of whether you are charged with designing an entire degree-award, a programme or an individual course, you will be doing so within an institutional context. Validating learning is a responsibility of approved degree-awarding institutions in the UK and many countries too, although some have regional or national validation processes (www.inqaahe.org). Regulations vary marginally between contexts but they are remarkably consistent in their aspirations despite different levels of detail being required.

You should design your course or programme with reference to the academic regulations and policies and practices implemented by your institution. But, it is important to avoid copying existing learning on the basis that they will automatically be suitable for validation. The regulatory framework also evolves over time, it adjusts over time in response to the dynamic dialogue between innovative course designers and those responsible for institutional quality assurance. Never copy and paste!

You might want to convene a course team and ask:

Context Questions
Course / Module
  • What credit weighting is my course expected to carry?
  • At what Level is my course intended to be taught?
  • Is it intended to assess the same course at different levels?
  • Where in the programme sequence is my course intended to appear?
  • Is my course intended to flexible enough to be aligned to multiple programmes
Programme
  • Is my Programme divided into Stages, are there multiple exit points?
  • What are the naming conventions within my Programme?
Department
  • Where does the academic management of the learning sit?
School/Faculty
  • Which School will oversee the quality processes associated with this learning?
  • Are there graduate attributes at a School level?
University
  • How does this learning align with the strategic objectives of the University?

National Quality Assurance Context

Once you have a sense of how your learning design might conceivably fit into the institutional context, but before anything is regarded as fixed, it is prudent to review external contextual influences on learning design. One of the most important is the national, regional or state context.

In the United Kingdom, for example, this oversight is provided by the Quality Assurance Agency (qaa.ac.uk) or QAA. This section is illustrative of the kinds of questions you will need to be asking yourself..

The UK Quality Code for Higher Education is a web-based resource with printable PDFs (qaa.ac.uk) that provides a comprehensive structural guide as to how learning designs should be interpreted. It does not provide a design template, rather it functions more accurately as an evaluative framework. Part A of the code is the most pertinent to the design process at this moment. There are four themes that UK course and programme designers need to consider:

Themes Design Questions
Levels At what Level is the programme’s named award to be made (Graduation level)? In the UK these levels are defined in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications
Qualification Characteristics Broad guidance as to the distinguishing characteristics of specific named awards.
Credit Framework Convention determines that certain exit awards have a certain number of credits associated with them. Credit is often defined through the concept of ‘notional student hours’ which might, for example, suggest that 1 credit equates to 10 hours of study. This measurement should include everything the student does, including assessment.
Subject Benchmarks Disciplines, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, may have subject benchmarks associated with them. These provide valuable conventional guidance on what is anticipated to be learned by students under specific discipline, or subject, headings.

These may closely relate to professional criteria which is dealt with next.

Professional Accreditation and Employment Trends

Now you know your course or programme is going to fit into your institutional profile and you are assured that it will meet the quality assurance criteria, you need to ask yourself 'why would a student want to do this course'?

Given the design process is likely to take several months and it may take a year or two before you enrol first students; the reality is your Postgraduate students will probably be graduating in two years at the earliest, your Undergraduates students in 4 years; a great deal can change.

It is important to build into your design and review processes, some form of environmental horizon scanning. This may exist in your practice already but where it doesn’t it is worth instituting. Gathering White Papers from commercial partners or competitors, clients, employers as well as press clippings and exploring changes in the direction that your profession or discipline may be heading should be the focus of some course team debate.

For more on horizon scanning, you may want to explore this UK government resource.

There is clearly also value in sharing your early programme and module designs with representatives from the professions or disciplines that your graduates are intended to graduate into. It’s often a good idea to do this very early on in the process, not to ask for validation of your designs, but to capture the widest possible intelligence on future directions.

Here are some basic questions, but you should explore as a course team those questions that seem more appropriate to your evolving context.

Professional Accreditation

Competency Frameworks What competency frameworks (apprenticeship standards) and professional body guidelines exist in my discipline?

If there is no national guidance, what about international guidance that might be indicative of trends?

Ethical Standards Are there globally recognised ethical standards in my discipline?

What internationally agreed accords are under development?

Anticipated Changes Are competitors working on alternative offerings such as two-year degrees or new degree apprenticeships.?

Employment Trends

Globalisation vs Localisation How is my profession or discipline evolving over time, are there identifiable trends?

How important is language ability or digital skills?

Automation / Systematisation How much of my discipline or profession is data-driven, or knowledge-based, and therefore more prone to automation?

On the contrary, are there inter-personal or affective skills that distinguish my discipline that is likely to require personal presence?

Anticipated Changes What are the big ideas in my discipline?

Are there new Internet applications that take away part of what has traditionally been seen as a distinguishing feature of my discipline?

Scholarship Agenda

It is natural for course teams to be intimately familiar with the scholarship that underpins the ‘content’ that they intend to deliver to students. Harder for most course teams is to get some distance from their own practice and to take a ‘bird’s eye view’ of their design as it emerges.

Again, it is important to be sensitive to the evolving discipline landscape. The best way to do this is to establish some form of ‘environmental scanning’ or ‘horizon scanning’ processes within your design team. Avoid the danger of fixating on a competitor’s advantage, or a particular client’s requirements, by maintaining as broad a view as possible.

Here are four categories you may want to start with. Review sources in each category with the same question; “What does this source tell me about the evolving needs of effective learning design in my discipline?”

Academic Literature Academic Journals in your discipline

Academic Books and Book Chapters in your discipline

Academic publications in related fields that impact directly, or indirectly on your discipline.

Conference Proceedings Conference proceedings are very often very much current or future implementations of scholarship. A great place to get a handle on what is happening ‘now’ and in the near future.
Grey Literature The blogosphere is a great place to source original and innovative approaches. Once you have validated the sources (so that you know the writer has credibility) you may want to track their train of thought over time.

White Papers from software producers (most disciplines make some use of technology!) and publishers are also counted as ‘Grey Literature’. Some software companies have in-house R&D divisions that foreshadow major trends in your discipline.

Contacts Personal or Team contacts also provide invaluable accounts of practice that inform the design process. You may find out the difficulties, or advantages, of running virtual scenarios for example and correct your design accordingly.

Evaluating your Contextual Judgements

It is important to return to these questions as you go through the future stages of the 8-SLDF. You will want to revisit these questions each time you have a course team meeting:

  1. Has my institutional strategy or alignment changed in any way?
  2. Have any quality assurance regulations, guidelines or benchmarks changed in any way?
  3. Do I still have all of the external reference points (my horizon-scanning) established to be able to define Programme Outcomes?
  4. What contextual circumstances might suggest that I should do something different from the norm and what external support is needed? And if I’m not doing anything innovative, why not?!
  5. What issues has my horizon scanning produced that others in the School or wide University need to be aware of?

References

Atkinson, S. P. (2015). Graduate Competencies, Employability and Educational Taxonomies: Critique of Intended Learning Outcomes. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 154–177.

Susskind, R., & Susskind, D. (2017). The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts. OUP Oxford.

This article is one in a series of reflections on strategic directions in higher, vocational and professional education. It is written with an audience of senior managers in learning organisations in mind. It is part one of eight. Each section has proposed actions for senior managers to consider.

The Challenge

Institutions operate in increasingly competitive environments. Funding is a challenge. Identifying and recruiting students, the right 'kind of students', is also a challenge. Even if you operate in an open educational context with barriers to access being largely absent you still need to ensure that students self-select the right programme of study, at the right time and that they are prepared, with whatever support required, to be successful.

The meta-view, including national agendas for widening participating, increasing transnational education and student mobility, as well as rapidly emerging disciplines and their associated unforeseen employment opportunities, all compound the challenge.

Who are your programmes designed for? This is not as straightforward a question as it first appears. The minimal 'market research' into new programmes carried out by many providers, whether by means of listening to international recruitment agents or industry leaders, risks producing ill-fitted programmes frequently in a rush to market. Sometimes running pilots, floating a balloon, tweaking an existing programme, even sometimes just changing the title on an existing programme, all can lead to the 'wrong' students embarking on your programmes. The number of programmes that are designed but never launch, or launch and under-recruit, is sizable.

Strategic Implications

The strategic implications of designing learning with learners in mind are profound. Not only is it important to ensure that the learning is designed to fit student needs and aspirations, but they must also reflect the nature of the institution, the professions they work with and prepare graduates to serve and to the societal service that any given institution claims to address.

A strategic approach to this student profiling;

  1. determines the 'fit' of the student to the programme ensures retention and progression
  2. predetermines learner support needs, and allows institutions to cost programmes accordingly
  3. acknowledges and develops unique cultures of learning, not least to account for governmental expectations
  4. aligns student participation with programme needs to fulfil institutional strategy, ethos and purpose.

At the heart of any learner's experience is their programme of study. Regardless of whether this is articulated as a curriculum, syllabus, programme, course or module outline, and whether it is strictly regulated and deemed formal or more loosely defined as non-formal education; the educational design is at the core of every learner's experience. Great marketing and recruitment processes attract learners and excellent support services work to retain students, but it is the relevance and efficacy of learners engagement with their programme is what matters most.

Profiling Students

There are two levels of profiling students. The first is the individual's epistemological framework (prior assumptions about the nature of knowledge) and the second is their, often unconscious, orientations to learning, their cultural, educational, circumstantial and dispositional influences. The first could be regarded as a higher, more abstract, perspective. The second more practical and easier to grasp. Both are important. The illustration at the top of this article, and reproduced again here,  represents an aide memoir for design groups and strategists to reflect on.

Strategic leaders need to pay attention to the orientation of the incoming students. The outer circle reflects the work that emerged from the POISE project (Atkinson 2014). The inner circle is an illustration of the work by Thomas and May (2010) in establishing the basis for developing inclusive learning approaches. Despite the fact that this work might originate from a desire to better integrate international students with domestic students and to recognise diversity and equality in teaching, it manifests itself as a very useful framework to allow tutors and students themselves to assess their own influences.

POISE Framework

The POISE Framework is an attempt to identify the epistemological assumptions of students, and their faculty, by exploring five facets of learning, the first letters of which stand for POISE: Pace, Ownership, Innateness, Simplicity and Exactness. In its most simplified form, it can be seen as the representation of five beliefs about knowledge represented as binary opposites.

This resulted in the following matrix.

Pneumonic Binary concept Belief statements (after (Schommer, 1990)) Scholarship roots
Pace Quick or not at all Learning is quick or not all (Quick Learning) (Schoenfeld, 1983)
Ownership Authority or Reason Knowledge is handed down by authority (Omniscient Authority) (Perry, 1968)
Innateness Innate or Acquired The ability to learn is innate rather than acquired (Innate Ability) (Dweck & Leggett, 1988)
Simplicity Simple or Complex Knowledge is simple rather than complex (Simple Knowledge) (Perry, 1968)
Exactness Certain or Tentative Knowledge is certain rather than tentative (Certain Knowledge) (Perry, 1968)

The notion of binaries presents an opportunity to engage in a ‘dialogue about beliefs’. It is appropriate to establish the beliefs about learning that underpin a student’s (or faculty member’s) approach to learning and teaching, rather than to identify a ‘problem’ and tackle it with an intervention in isolation.

For example, a challenge in many western universities is that students are not fully aware, or in tune with, the institution's guidance on plagiarism. It would be useful to introduce this dimension of academic practice by first exploring the question of whether knowledge is based on authority or reason. Without a fundamental understanding that the western academic tradition expects students to develop their own reasoning skills, and to acknowledge pre-existing authority in a particular way, one cannot effectively explore the detailed nature of academic referencing, citations and intellectual ownership.

The online POISE resource articulates this using five questions to explore each binary element. These could be woven into class tutorials, set as introductory work for debate or implemented in a learning support setting. Personally, I would prefer to see them integrated into students initial study as part of orientation work. Questioning one's assumptions is the basis for fresh learning.

Binary concept POISE Questions
Pace Quick or not at all Is hard work enough?
Ownership Authority or Reason Who has the answers?
Innateness Innate or Acquired Who is responsible for my learning?
Simplicity Simple or Complex Is there a simple answer?
Exactness Certain or Tentative Is there always a right answer?

Any airing of such deliberations at the beginning of any learning process, and revisiting them periodically, serves to properly orientate the learner.

ACTIONS: POISE

Review your policies for pre-enrolment engagement, recruitment and on-boarding of students. Consider sharing a contextualised version of the POISE questions with your students. Design a customised self-diagnostic tool that all incoming students complete that reflects back to them in the feedback how your institution values knowledge against each of these five questions. This will cause potential students to reflect on their expectations and relationship with the meaning-making process.

Once students have been enrolled you might review your pastoral and tutorial support. You may find it helpful to establish small-group seminars or one-to-one tutorials and work through each of the five questions in a non-judgemental context. In doing so teaching staff come to understand the degree of homogeneity within a cohort and also, in some cases, to contrast the approaches of their students to their own.

Framework for Inclusion

The second epistemological dimension of the student, before and after enrollment, that requires some attention falls under different names. It will appear in reference to an institution's equality and diversity agenda, widening participation or inclusion strategies. In some countries, these are mandated by funders, in others, they are less formally expressed but are usually present in any growth and recruitment strategy.

Much of tertiary education globally is seeing its student population becoming ever more diverse, and disparate with increasing part-time, distance provision growing.  We know that different groups of students have different rates of success, measured by retention, completion and attainment. It is critical institutions either declare their focus (where they are expressly exclusive: male only, Catholic only, etc)  or risk disadvantaging specific groups of students.

Working in a way that advocates equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) universally enhance the learning experience of all students. So we can use the matrix define by Taylor and May (2010) to not only value the contribution of students regardless of their backgrounds and appreciate, in an active sense, the contributions individuals bring from different value systems, enriching the experience of everyone, we can also use it to assess the 'fit' of students to programme.

ORIENTATIONS INFLUENCES
Dispositional Identity; self-esteem; confidence; motivation; aspirations; expectations; preferences; attitudes; assumptions; beliefs; emotional intelligence; maturity; learning styles; perspectives; interests; self-awareness; gender; sexuality.
Educational Level/type of entry qualifications; skills; ability; knowledge; previous educational experience; life and work experience; learning approaches.
Circumstantial Age; disability; paid/voluntary employment; caring responsibilities; geographical location; access to IT and transport services; flexibility; time available; entitlements; financial background and means; marital status.
Cultural Language; values; cultural capital; religion and belief; country of origin/residence; ethnicity/race; social background

All of these factors will express themselves in the values, attitudes and orientations to learning amongst your student population. Giving an early opportunity for individuals to express their views, without judgement, as to how meaning is made, how knowledge is acquired, curated and exchanged. A supportive dialogue about a student's relationship with knowledge allows the student to identify how they may need to adjust their own approaches to learning. Although I do not recognise the constructs referred to as 'learning styles', I do believe there are important orientations to learning that are contextually and culturally specific and are acquired as language is from infancy.

ACTIONS: INCLUSION

Faculty and learning support staff: the four things institutions can do are to make sure that all faculty and learning support staff are equipped with the skills to anticipate their diverse students' needs, to reflect on their own orientations, to encourage learning designers to build flexible approaches to learning to accommodate difference and to do so in collaboration with students themselves. This means valuing the professional development of your faculty and learning support staff.

Be Upfront: the strategic advantages of not delegating these concerns to the back-end student support service and bringing them right up front in your pre-enrolment and onboarding activities with students are that you are much more likely to create a community in which each individual brings their real self to the community and is valued for their unique contribution. Institutions may want to have anonymous discussion boards that allow prospective students to share their readiness to learn.

Reflect on Materials: Students will always connect more effectively with learning materials that are relevant to them. Materials can be alienating for learners. Cultural references or unfamiliar contexts can slow the learning process. You need to ensure your materials are easily ‘translatable’ from one cultural context to another. Instruct your materials design teams to adopt an inclusive matrix as a  quality enhancement mechanism.

How should institutions respond?

There are three possible strategic responses to this challenge.
Ignore it. We continue to design courses that fit into our educational structures and work harder at selling them to students in general.
Accommodate it. We attempt to incorporate some of the principles suggested here, perhaps implementing a version of POISE questions in our tutorial support structures, establishing an orientation questionnaire based on the four dimensions of the learner's context, and possibly implementing some diagnostic assessment at the beginning of each course or module.
Embrace it. Design orientation questionnaires and data capturing processes that inform the discussion between the student and their institution. Explore options for student-defined learning outcomes and assessment models, implement real-world, in-place, situated, flexible learning options, micro-credit accumulation frameworks leading to awards, and begin to redefine our institutions as enablers and validators of learning rather than curators of knowledge.

There is an old adage about a container ship leaving Tokyo and being just one degree out on its course heading to San Francisco and missing the United States completely. I have not checked the geography but the implications are clear. Pointing students in the right direction is our first strategic challenge.

Consultancy support is available institutions that feel they would benefit from an external review of their strategies, policies and practices. See Consultancy pages.

References

Atkinson, S. P. (2014) Rethinking personal tutoring systems: the need to build on a foundation of epistemological beliefs. BPP University Working Papers. London: BPP University.

Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review95(2), 256–273.

Perry, W. G. (1968). Patterns of Development in Thought and Values of Students in a Liberal Arts College: A Validation of a Scheme. Final Report. Office of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC. Bureau of Research.

Schoenfeld, A. H. (1983). Beyond the Purely Cognitive: Belief Systems, Social Cognitions, and Metacognitions As Driving Forces in Intellectual Performance*. Cognitive Science7(4), 329–363.

Schommer, M. (1990). Effects of beliefs about the nature of knowledge on comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology82(3), 498–504.

Thomas, L., & May, H. (2010). Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education (p. 72). York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/inclusivelearningandteaching_finalreport.pdf

The question of whether the four categories of Fellowship, professional recognition from the Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE), represent a progression framework appears to be one of those perennial discussions. At first glance, it is understandable that it might be interpreted as though individuals must first achieve a D1 (descriptor1) 'level' before moving on the D2 and so on. The truth is slightly more confusing. I believe we should all we use carefully chosen language in identifying the differences between categories of Fellowship by avoiding the implication of levels in D1, D2.... and instead have an active discussion with Faculty about the descriptors and potential labels. In my practice, I insist on discussing the differences between a Teaching Fellowship (D1) and an Academic Fellowship (D2), between that and a Leadership Fellowship (D2) and a Strategic Fellowship (D4).

I believe an accurate interpretation of the UKPSF and its relationship to Fellowship Descriptors across all four categories make it largely incompatible with any institutional promotional structure. Certainly achieving recognition within a category can, and should, generate evidence that can be used as part of an evidence base towards promotion, but tying Fellowship to internal promotion distorts individuals understanding of Fellowship and undermines their active engagement with the Professional Standards Framework.

Below are four videos representing extracts from an institutional Fellowship Seminar recently. They are presented in the order in which they were delivered although each should stand alone. They are:

  • Overview of the UKPSF (Professional Standards Framework)
  • Curating Evidence (putting a portfolio together)
  • Categories of Fellowship (an explanation of why they are NOT levels)
  • Good Standing (staying on top of your Fellowship)

Overview of the UKPSF (Professional Standards Framework)

I do not represent either an authority on the UKPSF nor do I represent the views of the HEA or AdvanceHE. These are my personal views based on having overseen an institutional scheme and written an aligned PGCert, as well as providing some consulting services to a number of UK colleagues in recent years. Other than my publicly stated reservations about the lack of an epistemological referencing within the UKPSF I think it is an essential tool for reflective practice.

Curating Evidence (putting a portfolio together)

Everyone is busy! I suspect we need to do a better job of supporting new Faculty to develop a reflective portfolio from their first day on the job. It should be part of that first on-boarding conversation with their new line manager. Encouraging new staff to document even the most mundane professional observations is necessary but is rarely a skill most of have naturally. This segment makes a few suggestions.

Categories of Fellowship (an explanation of why they are NOT levels)

The Fellowships have four descriptors, one each, obviously. Of course, they are numbered 1 through 4, D1, D2.... So it is natural enough to assume that they are progressive, that they constitute a series of levels. This is not the case. Each descriptor describes the kind of role that someone in HE has and articulates this with reference to the UKPSF. Even if you are an extremely competent academic, engaged in all dimensions of the UKPSF with evidence of your on-going excellence in practice, you cannot assume to be made a Senior Fellow without exploring your practice against this new category's descriptor, essentially the leadership and mentoring of others around learning and teaching. It is important to grasp the notion that longevity and 'excellent in role' is not sufficient to presume eligibility. In each category, there is a distinct focus. This segment explores the four distinct categories as teaching, academic, leadership and strategic roles. I think this makes it easier to unpack them.

Good Standing (staying on top of your Fellowship)

The Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE) have not detailed any guidelines for what constitutes 'remaining in good standing' as a Fellow, in whichever category it is awarded. But, institutions are encouraged to support Fellows to document their practice and facilitate both reflection and sharing. In theory, an institution's delegated authority to award fellowships through an accredited pathway could be at risk if the HEA chose to audit an institution and found them wanting. It need not be that difficult. Here are a few suggestions.

Colleague interested in designing modules and programmes that enable a full range of skills development across domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor, interpersonal and metacognitive) will hopefully find this short video resource useful. Feel free to share with colleagues on PGCerts. It is designed to support a reflective question which is, "what are the tools that your graduates might be expected to master on day one in their first graduate job role?" and secondly, "how would you design intended learning outcomes to progressively enable your students to acquire such skills and to demonstrate them?" (to be assessed)

This ten-minute video (10'30") outlines the advantages of using a psychomotor domain taxonomy in designing learning outcomes for both vocational programmes and all tertiary disciplines. Simon Atkinson advocates the design of 'manual' skills in terms of computer software and tools used by graduates. He outlines two taxonomies from the 1960s and 70s, those by Simpson and Harrow (full references are on the main psychomotor domain page), but both of these are described as being more psychological definitional taxonomies, whereas Ravindra H. Dave's 1967/70 taxonomy lends itself perfectly to the articulation of progressive skills development in tertiary contexts. Simon also illustrates the scope of 'manual' skills applied to all disciplines regardless of whether arts, humanities, social or physical sciences.

While such taxonomies are clearly of interest to those designing vocational and adult learning programmes, it is arguably as important that university students also experience the progressive nature of intended learning outcomes. Writing, and assessing, such outcomes will support graduates' development of tangible 'physical skills', notably in the use of discipline-specific digital applications. Course designers should not abdicate the responsibility of such skills development to an extra-curricular programme of 'digital literacy, but incorporate their skills development in their mainstream courses.

See pages for the Psychomotor domain

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