How did you become an educational developer -- and why did you choose that path?
After researching in ecology, I spent 10 years in 'adult and continuing education' before teaching undergraduates. That taught me a lot about teaching. In the 1990s I started to encourage the use of technology in teaching and learning across my institution, and realised that faculty development was really another form of adult education, and decided this was my spiritual home. I became a Fellow of my professional body (SEDA), a most supportive organization, and then got a new post as an educational developer before becoming the founding Head of a new educational and faculty development unit, the Learning Development Unit.
How does your research and experience as an ecologist affect your work as an educational developer, and vice versa?
Educational development (or research) and faculty development are intrinsically entwined. Educational research of different types (traditional, action research, organizational research) is necessary to chart the direction that faculty development should go in. Educational development is creative, critical and reflective, like all research.
What do you hope to accomplish during your visiting fellowship at the University of Windsor?
I hope to understand the Canadian situation better and give an international perspective on professional development for teaching.
In your considered opinion, what are the most important skills or items of knowledge for new faculty to learn in order to maximize their potential as teachers?
Evaluating their own practice, with the help of their students.
Could you describe some of the projects you've been involved with, that faculty at the University of Windsor might find interesting?
Accreditation of programmes at many institutions on behalf of SEDA; developing student personal development planning; developing institution-wide use of a virtual learning environment and digital learning repository; designing blended learning; pre-arrival induction to help retention; policy on adjunct faculty; running a postgraduate certificate and an MA program in teaching in higher education; a postgraduate program in action research and another in learning technology.
What book or article about teaching and learning should every faculty member and educational developer read?
John Biggs, Teaching for Quality Learning at University.
Best, most interesting, most useful thing you ever learned from an educational developer?
Confidence in the importance of our profession (educational development).
From a student: 'my brain hurts, but in a good way.'
Anything else you'd like the University of Windsor to know about you?
My current home reading is How to Talk about Books you Haven't Read, by Pierre Bayard - a useful skill for an academic! Q&A With Stephen Bostock