Academic Advancement

Empowering Higher Education Stakeholders

Kallia Katsampoxaki-HodgettsCrete (GR), October 2023 - (by Kallia Katsampoxaki-Hodgetts) A notable strength of the academic development field is its commitment to academics' empowerment toward more learning-centred and inclusive teaching learning practices. In line with this, the first international conference on higher education pedagogy and faculty development at the University of Crete Teaching and Learning Center was held in Rethymnon, Greece, 15-17 September 2023.

The CLT TotT International conference focused on trends and high-impact factors regarding the "Development of Faculty Pedagogical Acuity" within a range of pedagogy-related themes given the profound changes in this post-COVID online and face-to-face era. Expertise was shared not only in terms of new modes of learning, but also new modes of faculty development so that faculty members can successfully design inclusive and student-centred lessons in large amphitheatres.

The conference featured 80 presentations from 22 international universities and 13 countries. Themes showcased a variety of academic development approaches and teaching and learning perspectives, including peer observation, micro teaching, and reflective and participatory communities of learning and practice through MOOCs, active learning approaches that involve student engagement strategies and enhance student agency, science students' needs in terms of student-centred and inclusive practices through art, integration of AI in Higher Education, and a pedagogy of care.

Issues visited at the conference were not limited to the ones presented herein, but they are indicative of academics' vision and positive endeavours towards improving higher education learning environments and increasing opportunities for student success.

Our MOOC on Higher Education Pedagogy and Teaching Methodologies encompassed working towards constructive synergies and collaborations: We can overcome the challenges faced by all stakeholders in higher education, and by prioritising reflection through participatory academic development contexts, our communities (communities of practice, discourse communities, and communities of learning) will grow past inequalities and thrive.

The University of Crete MOOC "University Education - Teaching Methodology in Higher Education" (the MOOC pilot) adopted the model of equal relationship between participants and facilitators, thus shifting the role of the facilitator from the role of the expert to the role of the co-learner through a collaborative empowerment approach that allows for greater alignment between pedagogical principles and personal teaching practice.

Course designers did not follow a deficit training model according to which experts present new input in order to remedy lacking or inappropriate teaching and learning conditions or values. Rather, academics were viewed as teachers who care and reflect on the quality of teaching and experiment in different ways in order to improve it. In other words, participants were approached as dynamic subjects who already have, through their practice, considerable knowledge and experience related to teaching and wish to elaborate and enrich it. Critical insights from the MOOC indicated the need for academic developers to design more inclusive courses taking into account academics' needs as well.

Our open access International Map of all Teaching and Learning Centres around the globe, part of our project at the University of Crete, is to create an international map with all the Teaching and Learning Centres or Teaching Excellence Centres, Innovation Centres, etc. in the world to facilitate networking and collaborative projects. I would like to invite you all to send us a list of CTLs in your country or your university and to add them to our map.