The Caledonian Academy – Brief Update April 2007

In its first months of operation the Academy has been: 

1.      Reviewing GCU’s strategy for learning, teaching and assessment to allow us to achieve our vision of ‘excellence and relevance in learning and teaching making appropriate use of information technologies’;  

2.      Revising the University’s continuing professional development framework to ensure we provide colleagues at GCU with professional development that will effect transformational change in learning and teaching; 

3.      Developing criteria for academic promotion on the basis of teaching and learning. We aim to launch an Academy Fellowship scheme that will support GCU teaching and learning champions and less experienced teaching staff;  

4.      Formulating and disseminating ideas in new learning methods through educational development partnerships with schools[1]. We have been supporting colleagues in Schools across GCU  in securing QE funding from external sources, mainly in learning technology initiatives. We are seeking sponsorship from ICT companies in developing and testing e-tools for learning and are conducting an e-benchmarking exercise; 

5.      Leading international research in technology supported learning, thereby making a significant contribution to GCU’s performance in the UK Research Assessment Exercise. We are planning proposals for significant levels of funding that would employ several researchers who would not only work on external projects, but could advise colleagues in Schools; 

6.      Extending GCU’s partnerships with external bodies, such as the Higher Education Academy, ensuring GCU is viewed as leading the development of new ideas in teaching and learning. The

Academy led the HEA’s
UK forum on Sustainable eLearning[2]; 

7.      Improving progression and retention rates in partnership with Schools. We are developing a progression framework to improve progression rates at GCU.  

Research within the Academy is shaping future learning. Over the past 9 months the three staff in the Academy have led externally funded research projects generating over £300k. Information on some of these projects is online at : 

·         Community Dimensions of Learning Object repositories. Funded by the
UK JISC (£200k). This project is generating guidelines that will support the implementation of collections of learning resources in libraries in different countries, including GCU; 

·         Mod4L. A UK JISC funded initiative (£60K)  investigating how lecturers document and disseminate new ideas in teaching and learning practice. This project is guiding lecturers at GCU and beyond on future development of ways of sharing and reusing effective practice. The guidelines were published last week – attracting 140 downloads in the first three days; 

·         Learning from Digital Natives. An HEA funded project (£30k) exploring GCU students’ use of electronic tools and mobile devices to integrate their learning in formal and informal settings. The project will develop policy from which strategies for encouraging student independence in formal settings can be implemented, bridging the formal-informal nexus. 

·         EMERGE – a major JISC initiative to support the development of a community of practice across
UK higher education, involving all the projects within a £2M ‘Users and Innovations Programme’. (£400k of which GCU will receive £37k). 

New ideas in learning innovation are being developed through these initiatives with a range of international collaborators. Visiting scholars have been hosted from
New Zealand, the
Sweden and
Saudi Arabia as well as from several institutions across the

Our new colleagues are building upon our initial successes by a) identifying strategic directions for learning innovation, b) implementing mechanisms for transformational change, c) developing imaginative forms of e-learning   d) implementing creative teaching methods and e) leading international research and scholarship.  

Over the summer we will launch a new Taylor and Francis/ Routledge book series devised specifically for to teachers, lecturers and trainers who are involved in e-learning, but do not necessarily have a detailed knowledge of education technology. Initial two books include Preparing for Blended eLearning and ePortfolios, .

[1] Currently  supporting staff in HSC, LS, CMS and Learning Services to secure funds from national organisations for enhancement projects

[2] Sponsored by the Higher Education Academy