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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.

Alan Evison
Head of Language and Learning
Queen Mary, University of London
London, E1 4NS

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2825

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 Hilsdon

Co-ordinator, Learning Development

University of Plymouth

Drake Circus




01752 232276


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