Developing Faculty to Integrate Innovative Learning into Their Practice with the SOLE Model

Developing Faculty to Integrate Innovative Learning into Their Practice with the SOLE Model

Simon Paul Atkinson (BPP University College, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-347-8.ch001
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Background

There is a clear need for higher education to be responsive to its current learners’ needs and for faculty to be supported in this process. Contemporary developments require the support of new models of academic practice and new approaches to learning. We must first clarify what, if anything, is genuinely new about our current cohorts of learners and then look for approaches to learning design that are capable of accommodating current and future changes.

It is unwise to suggest that an entire generation is digitally wired, connected and digitally literate, indeed the evidence suggests the contrary (Jones, Ramanau, Cross, & Healing, 2010). While it produces useful headlines and clear policy options, it does not necessarily produce effective education. Each course design, each member of faculty, needs the skills to profile, identify, and empathise with each subsequent cohort. Each course of study must be responsive, appropriate, and supportive of cohorts emerging and evolving modes of learning behaviour.

I would contest the notion that this generation is any more unique than any previous generation, or indeed the notion of a generation at all, but I support the need for pedagogical practices, resources, and faculty development that seeks to understand and optimize learning for contemporary learners, digital or otherwise. Institutions everywhere are challenged by the need to provide increasingly personalised learning experiences for increasingly diverse cohorts of students. This pressure, from national government policymakers worldwide and university managers, and indirectly from students themselves, is one that individual academics can either choose to resist, to embrace, or feel afflicted by. The individual response and the institutional response are often in disharmony. The question of whether it is appropriate to ‘develop’ existing and new academics to integrate e-learning into their practice is worth exploring. There is a danger that ‘developing’ suggests that this is something that requires additional effort, that it is not in the normal manner of things. Likewise, to suggest that this applies to existing and new academics rather than simply to refer to all academics, also implies that our current situation is something extraordinary. We might also take issue with the notion of ‘to integrate,’ which again implies that there is something ‘other’ that needs to be incorporated into established or recognised practice.

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