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Implementing New Educational Strategies: Synergetic effects from a university overarching project
Mid Sweden University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0555-2683
Mid Sweden University.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6966-4057
Mid Sweden University.
2018 (English)In: Exploring the Micro, Meso and Macro: Navigating between dimensions in the digital learning landscape / [ed] Airina Volungeviciene, András Szűcs, 2018, p. 87-92Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In 2011 Mid Sweden University launched an educational strategy, which focused on creating active learning environments for the students, on increasing and improving the technical support for teaching and learning and on enhancing the teachers’ professional competence (Dnr MIUN 2011/277, 2009/1671). Several educational development projects were initiated. One of these, called Teaching and learning resources, was based on the idea that cooperation and shared experiences between teachers from different faculties and departments in different ways can promote educational development at the university. Our aim is to describe this university overarching project, and to discuss experiences and synergetic effects that have arisen from it. What happens when teachers from various faculties, departments and subjects come together and are assigned to work with educational development? What effects have we noticed and what would be our recommendations for future projects?

An invitation to participate in the project was sent to all departments of both the Faculty of Human Science and the Faculty of Science, Technology and Media. In the end, seventeen out of twenty departments joined the project with altogether thirty teachers. Each participant focused on one or several subprojects, all with their own purposes and contents, but with the joint intention to develop new educational traits and methods of teaching and learning. The subprojects dealt with issues such as academic writing, constructing a guide for new teachers, and forming teaching and learning fora. These subprojects are useful examples of how teachers can develop teaching methods that can be shared across department and subject boundaries.

According to our experience, the project has been successful due to several factors concerning strategical enhancement. The project has focused on exchanging knowledge and advancing the learning-teaching engagement, the subprojects were started by enquiring the departments’ needs, and we have wished to engage the management in forming strategies for a continual teaching and learning enhancement. Above all, this project has worked as a means for surfacing and sharing good practices.

As a result, we would like to stress the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, since this can give valuable synergy effects within an organization. Firstly, interdisciplinary collaboration is a way of bringing together the different subcultures that are always at work at different levels in a large organization, such as in various departments and within groups of fellow-teachers. When working on forming a university overarching educational/academic culture, it is vital to bring these subcultures together in order to find out what shared values and norms there are to build on in the organization. Secondly, when working with interdisciplinary projects, the risk of tunnel vision thinking and duplication of work is minimized. This kind of collaboration could thus save resources. Thirdly, at a university like ours, where many teachers are struggling with a heavy workload and symptoms of fatigue and burnout, collaboration and shared experiences might work as tools not only for individual empowerment, but also for group empowerment and job satisfaction. Therefore, in order to achieve a creative and supportive environment we need to continue encouraging staff collaboration.

In sum, the project Teaching and learning resources has contributed, in our experience, to not only individual professional development of the teachers that participated in the project, but also to educational development and enhancement at group and organizational level. The unexpected forms of collaboration and united action across department and faculty borders has given us an understanding of the importance of structured forms of teaching and learning dialogue and fora. Learning on micro and meso level is broadened to macro level. It is surely worth the effort to give teachers time to participate in this type of activity, due to the synergetic effects that are discussed above. Our strong belief is that our university would greatly benefit from continually providing the prerequisites for the kind of cooperative teaching and learning environment of which our project is an example. For that, we need leaders on all levels who prioritize this sort of activity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. p. 87-92
National Category
Pedagogical Work Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-33979ISBN: 978-615-5511-23-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-33979DiVA, id: diva2:1228540
Conference
European Distance and E-Learning Network 2018 Annual Conference (EDEN2018), Genova 17-20 June 2018
Available from: 2018-06-28 Created: 2018-06-28 Last updated: 2018-06-29Bibliographically approved

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Asklund, HelenNäsström, LindaBrander, Laura

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