Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ako Aotearoa academy symposium

At the end of last week, I was at the annual meeting of academy members held in Wellington at the Brentwood hotel. Largest symposium with over 60 members participating.

Symposium opened with mihi from Ngahiwi Apanui. Academy president, Phil Bishop provided update on the last 12 months and work between academy and Ako Aotearoa board. 

This year, the symposium was open to non-academy members for the afternoon. The theme of the day - tackling tertiary teaching challenges, retaining and developing capable graduates not just for today but for tomorrow. Tomorrow we work on the theme - leadership in education.

Symposium welcome followed by official welcome to the academy of this years excellence in teaching awardees into the academy. Then the hub managers introduced themselves. The objectives of the symposium was introduced by Eric Pawson. Professor Geoff Scott provided an overview of what he would like to see is achieved over the next day and a half. 

After lunch, a welcome from Dr. Peter Coolbear, Ako Aotearoa director who also read out a letter from the Minister for Tertiary Education, Hon. Steven Joyce. Peter provided background and reminded academy of their leadership role on the direction taken by government for tertiary education. 

Following, the first keynote from Professor Geoff Scott from the University of Western Sydney who is leading the afternoon's sessions. He presented on retaining and developing capable graduates not just for today but for tomorrow. Updated on what is happening around the world, to frame the discussions for the afternoon. Covered key themes on how learning can be enhanced to engage students. What can the graduate do after they have graduated?  Retention needs to be whole system, before tertiary, in transition, orientation and during and following. Backward mapping to find out if programme is working. Is it the right assessment, grading, calibration, learning design and resources. Change does not happen but has to be planned.

Measurement and funding for tertiary education tied to outcomes- not only enrolments but retention, completion and impact post graduation. Shift to quality of inputs to outputs, value added, employability, competency-based assessment, work ready plus graduates. Multiple reference points to validate programme level outcomes. Growing. focus on learning and assessing personal and interpersonal capabilities. Common searchable good practice clearing houses eg. MERLOT. 

Framework for quality is learning design, aligned support and infrastructure, delivery and impact. With aligned governance, policy, strategy, quality management and resourcing system.   Ensure everyone understands important vocabulary of standards and education.   Used case study to illustrate comprehensiveness of approach to ensure effective transition and retention strategies plus strategies to make sure graduate developing capabilities that count. 

Then break out sessions occur for participants to work through key themes from the keynote. Groups shared topics that were helpful and a topic they wanted to know more about. Geoff responded to the topics requiring more information. 

Dinner in the evening enlivened by songs and skits from members and a quiz, hosted by James Patterson and Kelly Pender. Good to meet new members and several who were awardees several years ago but at the symposium for the first time. As usual, diverse viewpoints and good opportunity to find out what has been going on at other ITPs over the year.

Day 2

Dr. Peter Coolbear provided a 'state of the nation' presentation followed with question and answer session. Covered themes the government level and Ako Aotearoa's reading of response. NZ priority areas include Maori , Pacifica success, NEETs, outcome, employability, literacy and numeracy, STEM, opportunities with new technologies, impact of NCEA on learning, impact of social media on learning, learning analytics, international students' experiences. Some congruence between government and providers but also some items missing. Missing from conversations include assessment, learner voice / information for learners and re-evaluation of what it means to be a professional tertiary educator. Themes from Ako Aotearoa perspectives include how projects are framed perhaps, important to use an approach that identifies success, understand why and sharing; need to be clearer about values related to tertiary education e.g. Cross cultural referencing; changing dynamics of tertiary teaching and learning - away fro content; and helping students how to learn. Tertiary education is complex, how do we assist developing, promulgation and socialising accessible ideas and tools to enhance learning. 

Second keynote from Professor Geoff Scott on 'turnaround leadership in tertiary education'. Presented analogies of being a leader in their institutions. Revised dimensions of capability from yesterday- personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities and role specific and generic competencies. Personal involves self awareness regulation, decisiveness and commitment. Interpersonal requires influencing and empathising. Cognitive includes diagnosis, strategy, flexibility and responsiveness. Competencies to manage, operate, self organise etc. shared the top ranked capabilities by learning leaders. Effective leaders not at top or organisation need more interpersonal capabilities. Change capable culture is built by change capable leaders. Pick your battles, prioritise and listen, link then lead.

Groups discussed the topic presented which they found most useful and the topic they wanted to find out more about. 

Closing presentation on constructing and testing a change leadership framework. A response to the Ministers invitation to report on outcomes to the symposium worked through. 

Symposium ended with field trip to Zealandia for last opportunity to catch up with academy whanau. 

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