In August 2014, Dr. John Lea, then Head of Academic Professional Development at Canterbury Christ Church University, asked me if I would like to contribute “something on online learning” in his new book, Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Engaging with the Dimensions of Practice, that he was editing. He knew that I did an online Masters course with the University of Edinburgh and thought I could bring that experience to bear in this chapter. By October 2014 and hot on the heels of the #edtechbook chapter, I presented John with a draft chapter that was given the rather deliciously salacious title of Confessions of an Online Distance Learning Junkie: From Personal Experience to Professional Practice. Though as is Editor’s priviledge, John later renamed the chapter to Opinion Piece: On Distance Learning so that it fitted with the structure with the rest of the book. C’est la vie!
There are a number of “big hitters” in the world of academia that have contributed towards this book, luminaries such as Prof Mike Neary (Professor of Sociology at University of Lincoln), Prof Dennis Hayes (Head of the Centre for Educational Research at the University of Derby), Prof Bruce Macfarlane (Professor of Higher Education at University of Southampton), Prof Mick Healey (HE Consultant & Researcher), Prof Alan Jenkins (Emeritus Professor at Oxford Brookes University), Prof Frank Furedi (Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent), and I should add a special mention to Helen Beetham (e-Learning consultant). Yeah, I am feeling just a little bit in awe to be in their august company.
This book has come at a particularly good time as far as my doctoral research into the professional learning of academics is concerned, along with the impending consultation green paper on the so-called teaching excellence framework (TEF) and the potential future direction of the UK Higher Educational Academy (Havergal, 2015a, 2015b) as a professional body for university teaching.
This is how the book’s publishers describe the book:
This book is an essential guide if you are working in higher education and seeking professional recognition for your role in teaching and supporting learning, and particularly if you are seeking a fellowship with the UK Higher Education Academy (HEA). The book maps a range of key themes against the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and invites you to engage with its ‘dimensions of practice’.
Its distinctive features include:
- Explicit links to the UKPSF and practical advice on how to put together a scholarly narrative account of your academic practice in order to seek fellowship status with Higher Education Academy (HEA)
- An exploration of the contested nature of academic practice, inviting you to interrogate how this can be negotiated within your own learning and teaching context
- Contributions from leading scholars in the field, practitioners writing about their roles and experiences, and the views of students.
- Each chapter interweaves insightful commentary with case studies, practical examples and opinion pieces, as well as debate pieces and ‘Dear Lecturer’ comments from students. Each chapter also includes helpful extracts from successful HEA fellowship applications, demonstrating how the content of the book can be used in a practical way to help you put together your own application.
If you are following an individual or institution accredited route to fellowship and/or studying a taught course (such as a PG Cert HE) then this book is an indispensable tool to help you think critically about the UKPSF dimensions of practice and academic practice in general.
Associated with the book is a website called Linked Space which will be providing a range of resources. The book currently retails at £29.99 and can be purchased directly from the publishers, McGrawHill Education (Open University Press), or through Amazon.
Havergal, C. (2015a). “New HEA chair: paying members could enshrine it as professional body”. Times Higher Education, 27.08.2015. Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/new-hea-chair-paying-members-could-enshrine-it-professional-body [Accessed 27.8.2015].
Havergal, C. (2015b). “News blog: would academics pay for HEA membership?”. Times Higher Education blog, 27.08.2015. Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/blog/news-blog-would-academics-pay-hea-membership [Accessed 27.8.2015].
Lea, J. (Ed). (2015). Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Engaging with the Dimensions of Practice. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.