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9 June 2010
Members of the HistorySOTL Board of the Directors will conduct a workshop on failure at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference to be held in Liverpool, United Kingdom, 19-22 October 2010.
Bringing together a team from Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, the workshop will explore the place of failure in teaching practice and administration.
From its early beginnings SOTL has been closely associated with recognition as the central strategy in elevating the importance of teaching within academia.
As advocates of SOTL attempted to further embed quality they looked to recognition and reward as the drivers of change.
This approach has had a lasting impact on how academics approach both SOTL and their own practice. While academics seeking recognition or writing a SOTL article discuss ‘problems,’ they rarely talk about failure when attempting to improve their teaching or make change.
In this workshop the facilitators — all well established scholars with numerous institutional and national teaching awards and several with discipline and/or institutional administrative experience — talk failure. Failure at the discipline and institutional level, failure at the curriculum level, failure and technology, and failure in aspects of classroom practice, will be amongst the discussion points.
The workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to also share their ideas on failure and their practice before work-shopping some strategies (borrowed and adapted from fields as diverse as the military and business) that can be used to more effectively deal with failure as a tool for engaging best practice.
“We are very much looking forward to facilitating this workshop on an aspect of teaching practice that is rarely discussed” said the Workshops coordinator and HistorySOTL Australasian Director A/Professor Sean Brawley. “The workshop also shows the benefits of the Society as a clearinghouse for international collaboration” he noted.
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview contact the Director responsible for Public Affairs (A/Professor Sean Brawley) on 61 2 9385 2342 or email.
9 June 2010
HistorySOTL Chair, Professor David Pace, and Vice-Chair, Professor Alan Booth have been invited to share their expertise on teaching and learning in History with Swedish Historians at an International Conference being hosted by the University of Uppsala.
The conference host is Dr David Ludvigsson of Uppsala’s “Historiska Institutionen”. Dr Ludvigsson met with members of the Society in Oxford in March 2010 at the Annual History in Higher Education Conference hosted by the United Kingdom Higher Education Academy History Subject Centre.
The conference provides a rare opportunity for Historians in the English-speaking world to share their approach to teaching and learning with Scandinavian historians. European historians continue to embrace the strong ‘didactic’ tradition while those of the English-speaking world have embraced the change brought by the new Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL).
Professor Booth will introduce delegates to the scholarship of teaching and learning as it has developed in the last decade in the English speaking world. Professor Pace will discuss his ongoing research on the “bottlenecks” students encounter in their learning.
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Professors Pace or Booth, contact the Director responsible for Public Affairs (A/Professor Sean Brawley) on 61 2 9385 2342 or email.
26 April 2010
The Australian Government has moved to establish national standards for the tertiary education sector in that country. Through the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC), discipline expert panels are being convened to prepare sets of standards.
For the Humanities and Social Sciences this is a vast undertaking. The ALTC in consultation with the Australasian Council of Dean of Arts and Social Sciences (DASSH) decided to trial the system using History and Geography as the first two disciplines.
The expert panels are made up of representatives from the discipline’s peak body, experts from the local discipline community, an international expert, and representatives from students and employers.
A/Professor Sean Brawley (UNSW), who is the Australasian Regional Director for HistorySOTL, was nominated as an expert by the Australian Historical Association. Dr Alan Booth (Nottingham) who is Vice-President of the Society was nominated as the international expert for the panel. Dr Booth comes to the job with extensive experience in formalizing the British Quality Assurance Agency’s discipline benchmark statements for History.
The panel commences its meeting schedule in May. A draft will be completed by September and the final version will be made available in December 2010.
With debates about standards continuing to capture public debate (especially in the United States) the Australian standards will be of wide interests to historians and academic administrators around the world.
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with A/Professor Brawley or Dr. Booth contact the Director responsible for Public Affairs (A/Professor Sean Brawley) on 61 2 9385 2342 or email.
First Board of Directors appointed
The First Board of Directors
No doubt in part because of the discussions held by the steering committee of HISTSOTL with then ISSOTL President Barbara Cambridge in Washington last year and further discussions with the conference organisers, the 4th ISSOTL conference set aside an afternoon (Wed 4 July) for discipline specific meetings. While only three disciplines took this opportunity, history was one of them. With South Australian wines and Victorian and Tasmanian cheeses provided by the School of History and Philosophy at UNSW a most pleasant afternoon unfolded.
Eleven historians (which was not quite the total number of historians at the conference) from Australia, UK, USA and South Africa attended the meeting. Three members of the HISTSOTL steering committee (Leah Shopkow, Geoff Timmins and Sean Brawley) were present. Three of the attendees were not foundation members of HISTSOTL.
After a welcome and introduction from Sean Brawley as the local organiser for the steering committee, Geoff Timmins with assistance from Leah and Sean discussed the activities of HISTSOTL to date. After this context setting the gathered were divided into small groups to ponder what steps forward the organization could take.
The groups were asked to write down their responses and these follow:
- The Society should reach out to teaching intensive institutions
- The Society should be a source for publicity of SOTL in History
- The Society should consider hosting its own regional or theme specific conferences
- The Society should sponsor workshops/panels at gatherings such as ISSOTL
- The Society should take special interest in training graduate students and new faculty
- The Society should set great value in sharing ideas but it was acknowledged that a cost-benefit analysis at this time would show that it will be difficult to secure immediate benefits due to a lack of resources and time.
- The Society should be interested in issues of reward in terms of:
a. teaching better
b. discipline benefits
c. personal satisfaction
- In thinking about the basis for collaboration the Society should consider routes to publication, resource provision, connections with the wider discipline community, and how resources are shared and pooled to raise the profile of history.
- The Society should concentrate its efforts on performing the role of a clearinghouse of ideas of teaching and learning as they apply to the study of history. It should seek to regularly produce edited volumes to share ideas with colleagues.
In the wake of these reports discussion flowed.
- The issue of a publication was discussed and it was agreed that at this stage a regular journal, while a possible future aim, would be too difficult to do. Strong support was endorsed for the Society sponsoring regular edited collections that might bring to a wider audience up-to-date developments in the field.
- On the issue of our own conference it was suggested that the current arrangement with piggy-backing on the ISSOTL conference was the wisest path forward. Suggestion of regional/national conferences was discussed with a mixed response.
- The question of funding was discussed as an important step forward for the sustenance of the organization. Australian and British funding possibilities as well as other types of support in kind were broadly discussed without any significant resolution.
- Another important issue that was discussed was the question of constitutional arrangements and the adoption of a more formal office-holding structure. The reason for the current approach of a steering committee was explained but there was strong support that for the authority and status of the Society consideration be given to the formalisation of a constitution with more traditional management structure. The possibility of using the bye-laws/structure of ISSOTL as a starting point was discussed.
- The degree to which the Society was truly international was also discussed. Mention was made that the founding membership reflects a fairly significant success in the Society getting its message to a diverse range of historians. It was however acknowledged that the Society currently remained dominated by the English-speaking world.
After these discussions the meeting discussed two pertinent issues. The first was how one structures a Gateway course for History and the second was on the issue of progression.
- Sean Brawley led the discussion on Gateway courses and a very fruitful exchange ensued. Issues of approach, and how content and skills were mediated were discussed and served as a useful entrée to a session on first year history teaching held the following day with presenters Dr Jennifer Clark (UNE-Aust) and Dr Elisabeth Ludlow (Wits-South Africa).
- Geoff Timmins led the discussion on progression and related it to a project he is currently working on.
- Another useful discussion ensued which also showed that we are gradually developing a common language (or at least understanding others). The different meanings of the seemingly simple word ‘seminar’ was but one example. The differences within nations was also an interesting discussion point.
All up, the afternoon session was a great success and does over something of an approach for future disciplinary meetings.
The conference itself was, as always, brimful of useful ideas and insights. My Australian colleagues learned much from our visit to DC the previous year. There was an excellent conference dinner (with two historians, Brawley and Baker the last to leave!) and at the various receptions the alcohol flowed freely (rather than being issued by a ticket with a limit of two drinks). A university rather than hotel location also seemed a winner.
As well as the various presentations by historians, Leah Shopkow and Arlene Diaz’s ‘Decoding the Disciplines Workshop’ was one of only three held at the start of the conference and was very well received. The next ISSOTL conference (and the next opportunity for HISTSOTL members to meet face to face) will be in Alberta Canada 16-19 October 2008.
We are a diverse group of people who do not all know one another yet and who come from all over the world (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Japan, Sweden, Uganda, UK, and US are represented so far). Feel free to post a comment here to introduce yourself to the group. Or, write a post describing your work and others can provide feedback.