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I started out as a TEFLer with a PG Dip in ESL, UCLES DELTA and MA in
Applied Linguistics. Having worked for the British Council overseas, I moved
to Queen Mary to direct its EAP (English for Academic Purposes) unit. The
remit of the unit was extended (10 years ago) to include study skills
support for the student body at large. My title is now Head of Language and
Learning. Our take on LD is very much focused on language development: EAP,
writing development and teaching foreign languages. Our English Language and
Study Skills work is increasingly influenced by insights from a Writing in
the Disciplines (WiD) initiative called Thinking Writing. We see writing
development as an effective way of enhancing learning more generally.
 
One of the challenges that faces us is how to adapt the skills and knowledge
of EAP to situations where there are mixed groups of home and international
students (NS and NNS). With increasing demands from academic departments for
our Unit to run communication skills courses for specific disciplines, we
are looking for ways in which WiD can complement EAP (there is a danger that
they could be seen to work in contrary directions). Staff development is
extremely important to move this forward.
 
A specific LD programme could be very helpful, but I'm not sure that
'support and guidance' quite captures what we would want. Our staff are
mostly teachers who are trying to adapt their pedagogy to a changing student
profile. Support and guidance doesn't sound quite pedagogic enough to
capture this.
 
I'm not sure how typical our Unit is, however.
 
I'm not sure about the idea of initial training in LD. I think it is an
advantage to have come into LD from one of the various routes that you have
noted and to have a specialism, rather than be a generic LDer.
 
Regards.
 
Alan
 
Alan Evison
Head of Language and Learning
Queen Mary, University of London
London, E1 4NS

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2825
www.languageandlearning.qmul.ac.uk 

  _____  

From: learning development in higher education network
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Hilsdon
Sent: 30 September 2007 14:44
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Becoming a Learning Developer - how?


Dear All
 
If you were to describe the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to do
your job, what would the key items be? What qualifications are needed/would
be relevant?
 
Over the last couple of years there have been some exploratory discussions
on this list about the availability of both initial qualifications and
professional development opportunities for those in our field. As Learning
Development is still an emerging area of HE, there are no traditional routes
to careers in this area - nor are there (m)any(?) specific qualifications or
courses to train or prepare potential LDers for the kinds of jobs we do.
When advertising two Learning Development posts at Plymouth recently, a
common question I faced from those interested but feeling unable to be
candidates at present was: "What course would I need to do to become
qualified to apply for this job?"
 
A range of characteristics and features of professional history and
background recur when LDers explain how they came to occupy their roles.
Some of the most common are: teaching English as a second or foreign
language; working on access and foundation courses; in widening
participation and work with mature students; in teacher training or in
careers services.
 
One of the important issues we have considered in setting up ALDinHE (the
Association for Learning Development in Higher Education) is whether or not
we should establish our own courses - or act to validate relevant programmes
or modules run by individual institutions where we have members. However,
SEDA (the Staff and Educational Development Association) already has a suite
of courses and a fellowship scheme leading to professional qualifications -
e.g. in supporting and leading educational change and teacher accreditation.
These courses were developed with the support of the HEA and can link to a
claim for meeting the Academy's UK Professional Standards Framework. There
is a named award 'Student Support and Guidance' available through SEDA's
Professional Development Framework (SEDA-PDF) which some of you may be
familiar with.
 
To help us develop our thinking around these issues, would you be willing
reply to this message to tell the list your own thoughts and stories? It
would be useful if you could try to include answers to the question above
and/or:
 
1)   What is your current role/job title?
2)   How did you become a 'learning developer'?
3)   What relevant qualifications do you have?
4)   Would you be interested in a specific Learning Development CPD
programme
5)   Does the SEDA named award http://www.seda.ac.uk/pdf/index.htm 'Student
Support and Guidance' suit our purposes?
6)   How can newcomers enter the Learning Development field if they do not
already have employment in HE?
7)   Should ALDinHE work towards the development of new courses for initial
training and/or CPD in Learning Development?
 
 
With best wishes
 
 
John
 
 
John Hilsdon
Co-ordinator, Learning Development 
University of Plymouth 
Drake Circus 
Plymouth 
PL4 8AA 
 
01752 232276 
 
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