Why Collaborate?

There are two key reasons to collaborate in the field of development in higher education, and both of these come from the book Advancing Practice in Academic Development, edited by David Baume and Celia Popovic in 2016. Have a look at chapters 1 and 18 for more.

Reason 1: The need for co-operation on development within institutions

Not all problems, opportunities or possible sites for action in higher education fall tidily under the heading of teaching, learning, assessment, course design, educational development, staff/faculty development, student development, advice and guidance, personal tutoring, language development, numeracy development, learning technology, management, researcher development, research supervision development, administration, support for students with specific learning difficulties, international education, support for students from overseas, equality of opportunity, graduate careers education and advice, employability, community links, open and distance learning, learning resources, estate planning, designing and equipping teaching and learning spaces, learning analytics, organizational development, library and information services, etc..

This suggests, if it were not already obvious, the great need for the various university development functions, including but not limited to those above, to cooperate.

Frequent reorganisations, sometimes driven by the optimistic management view that the crucial thing is to get the structures right, may aid this process, if only because many of the players may already know each other from previous formations.

However, whatever the current and future structures of and formal links between the services, it is vital that the units and the individuals know each other well, know their capabilities and enthusiasms, and are prepared from the earliest moment to share intelligence and to devise joint courses of action. This can be difficult in a climate of competition for resources and attention within a university. But, perhaps a little below the radar, cooperation can normally be achieved.

Also, and occasionally despite appearances, it is unusual for universities to actively seek to prevent or discourage good things from happening. Developers should work on this basis, anyway.

Reason 2: Development – the territory and the map

The territory of development – what is happening in institutions – may be starting to diverge from the map, the organisations that represent these various functions.. National organisations need to stay alive to these changes, rather than solidifying around earlier forms and functions.

As an example – a large and successful national organisation, the Association for Education and Training/Teaching Technologies in the UK, failed to adapt to changing circumstances and ceased to have an independent existence, folding into SEDA in 1996. (Its legacy lives on through its journal, now published by SEDA, now called Innovations in Education and Teaching International, now in its sixth decade.)

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