How the SEDA values changed from FSEDA to SFSEDA

Last year, I was part of the cohort that went through SEDA’s Senior Fellowship programme. My wonderful mentor, Ruth Pilkington, suggested that I go back to my SEDA Fellow portfolio I wrote a few years prior, and reflect on how my interpretation of the SEDA values had changed over the course of my journey from academic developer to academic development leader. I found this tremendously helpful, and as the new Senior Fellow Scheme Lead, it is something that I would encourage everyone who is considering Senior Fellowship to do.

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Can digital technologies be of, for and as learning?

Many higher education providers are currently casting their educational strategies and resources toward the return to more in person teaching supported by the use of digital technology. The near future is about delivering digitally enhanced learning, teaching and assessment where online learning and digital tools support the best in person teaching experiences. Universities UK recent blog summarised this succinctly.

As educational developers we work with teaching staff (often alongside learning technologists) to develop staff’ digital capabilities, to offer curriculum design consultancy, and to inform institutional debates about the critical digital skills that students need to develop. In this blog I’m suggesting that these three areas of activity could be construed as the use of digital technologies ‘of, for and as learning’ and that could be a useful construct for developers to consider their activity in this important area of work.

The focus on of, for and as learning is not new. It is used commonly when talking about assessment. So, what is digital technology of, for and as learning and why might it be a useful way of framing the work of educational developers in supporting digital technology uses in higher education?

Digital technology of learning can be envisaged as the available digital tools and environments for teaching. It includes the centrally managed and maintained resources, like the virtual learning environment and the online classroom, as well as specialist software and hardware used by subject areas – for example VR in the digital humanities and simulation tools in healthcare professions. Educational developers and learning technologists play an important role when they support teaching staff to develop their digital capabilities and to become confident and open to test and evaluate new tools or features. They also support university managers and leaders to make decisions about which digital tools to purchase or adopt.

Digital technology for learning is the relationship between digital teaching tools and course design. Curriculum and learning design, led by educational developers and learning technologists, is an area of increasing focus and growth in institutions. Working with programme teams, students and other stakeholders, educational developers need to be adept at facilitating conversations that consider the affordances of the digital tools and relate those to the curriculum purposes (exemplified by universities’ strategies and curriculum frameworks) and the mode of study (in person, online or blended).

Finally, there is digital technology as learning. Here, in designing courses for learners, explicit attention is focused on developing students’ digital competencies. Digital technology as learning ensures teaching staff, and other curriculum designers articulate how the digital tools and the ways they are used inform students’ personal growth and professional development as current and future critical users of digital technology. The intention is to develop digitally confident graduates, citizens, employees and entrepreneurs who are willing and equipped to critique and further develop digital practice for the future.

Educational developers are in the thick of the action working alongside others to enable individual staff capability, course design and to set student learning priorities. As we all adjust to the expectation of digital capability and digital fluency underpinning the working lives of higher education staff and the study experiences of students, focusing on digital technology of, for and as learning could be a useful framework to differentiate the areas of our activity.

I’d love to hear from any readers about whether this resonates with you.

Jackie Potter is Dean of Academic Innovation at the University of Chester and Professor of Higher Education Learning and Development. She is the current Chair of the Heads of Educational Development and a member of the Staff and Educational Development Association.
@Jac_Potter @uochester @HEDG_UK @SEDA_UK_
She can be contacted at

Widening participation in Higher Education, with and through infographics

Due to the government initiative to widen participation, many university entrants arrive with vocational qualifications (Department for Education, 2017; Kelly, 2017). As a result, there have been issues concerning lower retention and completion rates and lower numbers of first-class and upper second-class degrees for non-traditional students (Kelly, 2017). These students are often described (among other characteristics) as students who might struggle to cope with extended reading, are well versed in practical, and have an applied and disadvantaged background (Kelly, 2017). Does it sound familiar?

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Mindsets for postgraduate research: Developing doctoral intelligence

Research quality concerns could stem partly from students enrolling for advanced degrees, because of the competitive work environment without awareness of the unique nature of education at this level. A clearer understanding about the mindsets needed for PGR in general and the doctorate specifically is thus necessary. Just as there are debates about attributes for the doctorate or attributes due to the doctorate, there are debates about inherent intelligence and the ability to develop intelligence (Sternberg, 2000). Intelligence in this context refers to the broad cognitive and behavioural mental tools or mindsets for problem-solving for an innovative PhD contribution.

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Towards a Manifesto for Programme Leadership: Advocacy, Inspiration & Action

In recent years, programme leadership emerged, tentatively, from the institutional shadows to be acknowledged for the pivotal position it plays between student learning, academic practice and strategic decision-making. This was particularly striking during the emergency phases of the pandemic, where programme leaders came to the fore, reassuring and supporting learners and guiding teaching team colleagues through the challenges of rapid change in institutional policy and educational delivery.  Yet questions remain about the extent of institutional appreciation of the programme leadership role and the practical support, recognition and resourcing that flows to those in these positions.  Continued advocacy and collective championing is, we argue, vital.

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Programme leadership: What’s the point of quality assurance anyways?!

Continuous programme improvement has been historically based on providing documentation and fixing gaps in how a programme satisfies its learning outcomes, based on data and input from multiple stakeholders (Brodeur & Crawley, 2009). How many times have you been invited to a meeting to discuss quality assurance, only to be asked to provide support on how to get through the bare minimum and avoid bureaucratic processes? While those of us in educational support roles feel it is more valuable to focus on the spirit and intention of quality assurance initiatives, how do we create a culture that focuses on quality enhancement rather than bureaucratic milestones?

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Programme leaders challenging binaries in higher education: Academic vs non-academic?

One large green bottle amongst four small clear bottles
Attribution: Jessie1dog ‘I don’t think I belong here’ from Flickr

We are delighted and proud to be involved in the creation of ‘Supporting Course and Programme Leaders in HE: Practical Wisdom for Leaders, Educational Developers and Programme Leaders’ because it recognises the pivotal role of Programme Leaders (PLs)  in higher education. 

It has been noted for some time, and we certainly found in our work with programme leaders, that this group of staff, who work at the junction of pedagogy, academic leadership, and student experience, too often seem to get a raw deal. Given the sheer power of the market forces of student satisfaction and notions of ‘quality’ in the neoliberal academy, it can be hard to see why they are not better valued and celebrated for their incredible impact on the student learning journey.

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Seeding support: a cross-institutional development programme for programme leaders

When the call for chapters for Supporting Course and Programme Leaders in HE: Practical wisdom for leaders, educational developers and programme leaders. Routledge, UK was announced, it was just the right time for us. We have launched extensive programme leader (PL) development programme at UWE Bristol and I was keen to share our experiences. These showed that busy PLs will engage with institutional support, in great numbers, if it does justice to the complexity of their role. I was, and still am, adamant that we should not shy away from developing an extensive programme of support for PLs. After all, we expect a lot from them, so we should be willing and able to offer support that is commensurate with our expectations. The chapter captures the design principles of the programme, which I believe have ensured its success. Here is a short snippet of our story:

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Scoping programme leadership: Nailing Jelly to the Wall

The reality of programme leadership in a contemporary university is so complex and challenging that it is a wonder why anyone takes it on!  In the UK sector there is some movement towards recognising such roles in relation to career progression, thus providing motivation, but it is difficult to demonstrate success in the role in the same way as one might research output. Whilst Robinson-Self (2020, p119) points out that programme leaders “are in a position to be instigators of genuine positive change”, he also describes the challenges of defining the role and of negotiating the potential tensions of freely adapting a programme and the constraints of institutional organisation.

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Sharing practical wisdom: creating environments in which programme leadership can flourish

This is the first post in a Blog Series, edited by Sue Morón-García, focusing on programme leadership. Posts are written by contributors to ‘Supporting Course and Programme Leaders in Higher Education’ (Lawrence, Morón-García and Senior, Routledge, 2022) and will be of interest to anyone practising as or supporting the development of programme leaders and leadership in HE.

Programme leaders (PLs) are crucial to higher education success. They commonly have responsibility for the nexus of the student experience: a programme of study. They work in a highly contextualised environment subject to local cultures (institutional, departmental and disciplinary) and are subject to the strategy and management that shape the systems and processes they must navigate. Our early work with programme leaders and educational developers across the UK and discussions at international events indicated a need for evidence-based, practical wisdom and clarity on how to better develop and support the role.

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