Monday, March 29, 2010

Ako Aotearoa - Spotlight on tertiary teaching in Canterbury & beyond

The Ako Aotearoa Academy (Canterbury chapter) organised a 'Spotlight on Tertiary Teaching' funded by Ako Aotearoa and Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub.  Over 160 tertiary educators from Universities (Canterbury (UC), Lincoln & Otago), Polytechs (CPIT, Nelson, Southland) and various provide providers attended the event.

Ako Aotearoa was also represented by Dr. Peter Coolbear & the academy represented by president, Donna Buckingham.  The event was fully sponsored so there were no registration fees, which assisted many part-time educators and teachers working in private training institutions to attend.  In all, a grand celebration of the diversity of educational offerings available in NZ plus a showcase of educator's student centred teaching philosopies.The event was opend with a welcome from Ngahiwi Apanui (Kaijautu Maori for Ako Aotearoa) & Dr. Juliet Gerard representing the organising committee.

Dr. Tim Bell and Dr. Angus McIntosh convened the first session which was a dual stream session of presentations.  I attended the sessions in Stream A which included Derek Chirnside's entertaining presentation on Vygotsky: A physicist encounters the world of educational research. Dr. Ruth Zanker from CPIT on immersive learning environments for Broadcasting communications students, Dr. Ben Kennedy from UC using clickers & presenting on Carl Weiman's science education iniative, Haani Huata's (CPIT) wonderful presentation on using song and dance to 'transmit' intergenerational knowledge and Carol Acheson (Otago) on academic skill development for mature post-graduate students.

In the other stream, there were presentations from Dr. Niki Davis (UC) on using blended learning, Dr. Catherine Moran (UC) on tertiary teaching from classroom to community, John Grant on tertiary education opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities, Dr. Glen Koorey (UC) on engaging the engineering industry as students and teachers  and Dr. Simon Kingham (UC) on service-leanring.

Dale Sheehan and myself then faciitated a sesssion on 'lifting your game' which focused on unpacking individual teachers' philosophies on teaching.  Dr. Marjorie Manthei (retired from CPIT) provided the background.  Four panel members provided examples of their teaching philosophies.  They were Dr. Tim Wilkinson (UC) on teaching doctors, Phil Healey (tutor of the year for the NZ private education providers association) presented on teaching digital literacy skills, Te Rita Paphesh presented a good overview of Maori pedagogy and Stephen Byers (CPIT) on teaching level 2 students on a pre-trade electrical industry supply programme. The audience then worked in groups to distill and discuss their own philosophies.

The last session was a panel discussion brought together by Dr. Eric Pawson & Dr. Roger Nokes. Each panel member responded to a question which would then be discussed by the audience.  A summary of responses will be collated & sent to CEOs of the institutions represented by the participants to the event.  Anna Boyd (student at UC) responded to the question ' what should a student-centred institution look like?', Alan Walker (principal of Early Childhood School) responded to the question 'what would you do to enhance teaching with a large financial windfall!' Dr. Jan Cameron (UC) presented a thought provoking response to 'How should we incentivise teaching?' & Mary Kensington (CPIT) responded to the question "what do you do to lift your game as a teacher' with examples of how midwifery had to work to incorporate distance/flexible delivery into their programme.

The event closed with a short summary from Dr. Peter Coolbear and a farewell song from Haani Huata.

All in, informal feedback indicate there is a space for this event on the tertiary teachers' calendar for next year (and for as long as funding is available).  I was especially encouraged by the many educators from private providers who attended. Many are keen to network and events like this provide a good opportunity for people from the diverse sectors of tertiary education to share ideas, challenges and solutions.

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