A year of challenges prompts an agile response from our Educational Enhancement team

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What a difference a year makes! With COVID-19 restrictions we had to be agile and adapt and re-think the delivery of the Teaching Excellence conference this year. The new mode of conference delivery meant wider audience engagement, an increase in stories being shared, as well as successes and challenges being accessible to our colleagues on and off campus.

The new look Teaching Excellence conference 2020, themed Lessons Learned 2020 took the form of a daily webinar series, focussing on how our teaching and learning has adapted to meet online and blended demands this year.

In order to engage as many staff as possible we offered morning and afternoon timeslots from between 26-29 October. We were blown away with the response from our University staff so keen to share their experiences and ideas with their colleagues. Along with individual presentations by colleagues across the university, the webinar series featured three panel presentations: a Communities of Practice (CoP) narrative, CoP as a catalyst for change and the Academy Fellowship Scheme (AFS) applicants panel.

The CoP panels comprised of 13 panellists, representing seven of our CoPs. They candidly shared their experience, passion, and struggles, when COVID-19 occurred, derailing many of their plans. They added valuable insights on sharing best practices, being aware of current best practices and that CoP provided them with an avenue to learn how and what other areas of the University were doing - pre and post COVID-19. Members discussed how the pandemic further escalated the importance of CoP as it enabled them to lean on each other for ideas and strategies to cope with the changing environment. The pandemic brought about a change in perspective with meetings occurring online and lesser reliance on face-to-face but with the same efficiency and added convenience for more members. 

The AFS panel featured six current candidates for Fellowship discussing their application journey thus far, including how they remained engaged in professional development during the challenges of COVID-19, and how they are overcame these challenges.

In total, the webinar series featured 19 presentations over four days, providing an enriching opportunity for staff to share their unique and innovative ways of teaching during a time of rapid and uncertain change. They shared what they learned from the unique experiences and what strategies and methods they will continue to use to better their teaching practice. The recording of the webinar series can be viewed on the Educational Enhancement Unit.

This year our staff continued to receive support for the Teaching Excellence Awards process via zoom and email and in total we awarded:

  • Five UWA Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
  • Four UWA Professional Staff Awards for Service and Support and
  • Four UWA Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Our University academics were further recognised in our nominations to the Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) with five staff nominated for the Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning and three for Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The celebration and recognition of our esteemed colleagues included welcomes from both Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor David Sadler.

The team at the Educational Enhancement Unit wish to thank our University community for their resilience, innovation and engagement they have shown during a tumultuous year.

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