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MIC launches innovative flexible professional development programme for third-level teachers

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarylive.ie

launch

MIC's flexible professional development programme for third level teachers

The programme adopts a unique approach to supporting the professional learning of those who teach in Higher Education

The Learning Enhancement and Academic Development Centre (LEAD) at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is delighted to launch its first fully-flexible online professional development programme, the Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice which is now open to Tipperary students.

This Level 9 postgraduate qualification aims to encourage and promote best practice in Higher Education teaching, learning and assessment and to empower staff, and students, to be responsive to the changing needs of the Higher Education landscape and broader society. It is designed for those who teach in Higher Education, both new to the sector and those with more experience, and seeks to offer individualised learning pathways which are grounded in academic practice.

According to Dr Gwen Moore, MIC Director of Teaching and Learning, “LEAD and Mary Immaculate College are delighted to introduce the Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice at a time when Higher Education faces considerable challenges and those who teach are required to be responsive to the new teaching and learning context. This programme recognises that many Higher Education teachers are committed to improving their practice and seeks to recognise the time spent by many educators on developing their skills to best support student learning. It is designed to be fully-flexible and grounded in work-based practice and participants on the programme will undertake an interactive and collaborative approach to enhancing academic practice which is evidence-based and scholarly.”

The programme adopts a unique approach to supporting the professional learning of those who teach in Higher Education: working closely with a mentor, participants will be encouraged to engage in their own choice of practice-based professional development activities and to design, implement and evaluate a teaching and learning initiative in an academic context of their choosing. Through the creation of a digital portfolio, participants will critically reflect on these activities and their impact on practice. The programme also seeks to harness the enormous potential of peer learning and participants will work in peer groups to share practice and provide ongoing and constructive feedback.

Mindful of the current context in Higher Education, the programme will offer an innovative ‘digital pedagogies’ pathway. As Dr Moore explains, “This pathway will provide an opportunity for participants to critically evaluate their current pedagogical approaches and determine how digital learning pedagogies and technologies can be used to enhance their current academic practice. With the current shift to online and blended learning, this pathway offers an excellent opportunity for Higher Education teachers to consider how digital technologies can engage students, cater for diverse learning preferences and offer innovative assessment approaches which are authentic and discipline-appropriate.”

The programme recognises the pressures facing those who teach in Higher Education and therefore offers a contextualised approach to professional development that is grounded in everyday practice. Highly flexible in both content and delivery, the programme features two 15 credits modules which can commence in either Autumn or Spring semester. It will be based on the specific professional experiences and interests of individuals who teach or lead in Higher Education. In consultation with a mentor and guided by scholarly literature, learners will engage in professional learning activities which are designed to support and enhance academic practice and therefore strongly embed the programme in day-to-day working practices.