Working at the cutting edge

While strong support for teaching and learning is now offered at this Unit Coordinator’s university it was not the case when he first arrived. Over time technology and collegiate networks have strengthened to better support all teaching staff. More...

Prior to my arrival here seven years ago, I occupied a high level management position at another university, after working in industry as an interactive designer. The university was introducing a new undergraduate degree requiring development of several interactive media units. I received no mentoring, no administrative assistance and no guidance on my administrative responsibilities. Fortunately my teaching qualification and earlier work as a school curriculum consultant meant I could ‘hit the ground running’ as students were arriving for classes in three weeks. My regular advice to others now is to seek out teaching and learning support staff for assistance as soon as possible.

Over time, and as the units became increasingly popular I created pathways for student access and some units became entirely on line. With the support of our Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning I also developed studio units designed around face to face collaboration so that other unit coordinators could meet to talk and share ideas. A strong network now exists so we meet, mingle and those requiring direction have easy and informal access to the information they need.

Sometimes I find working with sessional staff more difficult than it should be. I learned that sessional staff are often unsure of university processes and may leave tasks until the last minute. They seldom develop a strong rapport with our students so I encourage them to communicate with their academic colleagues for tips and to form tutor support groups. The university now pays sessional tutors to attend training sessions to become familiar with policies and processes.

There is strong support here for teaching and learning knowledge in the media division and a few years before my arrival our Vice Chancellor insisted that all students must complete one online unit. It is impossible to provide all the support required from within the media program and we receive fantastic help from our IT staff. I enjoy teaching and the iterative process of manipulating cutting edge content. I also enjoy working across a range of disciplines, enhancing networks and shaping authentic degrees for the future.

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