Rebecca Turner, Library and Academic Development, University of Plymouth
‘Supporting and Leading Educational Change’ is the tagline of the SEDA Blog which has provided a platform to discuss educational development practice since 2014. Graham Gibbs kick started the SEDA Blog with his yearlong series ‘#53 Ideas Powerful Ideas All Teachers Should Know About’. During this series, Graham, and invited colleagues, sought to provoke debate, explore practice, and where relevant, provide recommendations on agendas educational developers support colleagues in negotiating in their daily practice.
Following this auspicious start, the SEDA Blog became an established part of SEDA’s publishing activities, providing a space for higher educational professionals to share ideas, opinions, good practice and the outcomes of research that they think will be of relevance to the SEDA community. In Summer 2021, as we began to realise we were all going to have to live with COVID for the foreseeable future, educational developers were still working hard to support colleagues to mitigate the on-going impacts of the pandemic. Often all our energies were dedicated to developing others, but what about developing our own practice? SEDA is a well-connected community; through the SEDA JISC list, online events and publications, SEDA continued to engage with members, stimulating discussion and reflection. The SEDA Papers committee identified the SEDA Blog as a complementary, but potentially underused, forum through which to engage with the SEDA community and began publishing weekly posts to share innovations emerging from COVID, as well as providing a forum through which to further connect educational developers. Working with, and developing, learning communities is at the heart of SEDA’s values; at this time the blog created a space through which SEDA could continue to fulfil its core mission as many of us carried on working remotely.
Since then, in my view, the SEDA Blog has gone from strength to strength, and now has a following of over 7,000 subscribers. HE professionals with an interest in teaching, learning, curriculum enhancement and student support, have given their time, ideas and expertise to the SEDA Blog. This has enabled us to feature posts on current agendas such as student and staff wellbeing, AI, decolonisation and academic careers. Blog articles have also prompted us to revisit ideas core to the practice of educational development, such as peer observation of teaching, inclusive practice (see recent posts on lecture capture, session design as examples) and curriculum change. Thoughtful pieces have also encouraged us to stop and think reflectively, such as this post on active listening. The blog has attracted writers from all areas of higher education, including established educational developers leading large teams within institutions, to those new to educational development work taking their first, tentative steps into publishing and writing about teaching and learning. Each author places a spotlight on issues or challenges they may be working with and, by writing for the SEDA Blog, creates an opportunity for the wider community to engage in a discussion around the featured topic. For the 10-15 minutes people spend reading SEDA’s weekly Blog, they are giving themselves the time and space to reflect on their practice, often with a view to how they can support others to do so.
On a personal note, in writing this post (a first for me as usually it is me pestering others to write for SEDA rather than doing the writing myself) I am hugely grateful to those that have taken the time to share their experiences and write for the SEDA Blog. I have had the privilege of taking inspiration in the topics featured on the SEDA JISC List, ‘trending on Twitter’ or that I have come across in my role supporting lecturers and curriculum enhancement at Plymouth. Over 130 HE professionals have written more than 100 posts for the SEDA Blog, making it a lively and engaging space to support and for the community to engage with. I am leaving the SEDA Blog in the stewardship of the Educational Developments Committee, with Dr Kerry Dobbins (University of Warwick) and Dr Emma Kennedy (University of Greenwich) taking over editing the SEDA Blog. If you have ideas, practice or research to share with the Educational Development community, why not keep the conversation going and submit a blog to the new team.
Dr Becky Turner is an Associate Professor in Educational Development at the University of Plymouth, and a Principal Fellow of the HEA. Alongside editing the SEDA Blog, Becky has also served as the Chair of SEDA Papers Committee since 2017. At Plymouth, Becky works to support new and established lecturers, Associate Lecturers, and PhD students to enhance their teaching, learning and student support practices. Becky also undertakes research into a range of contemporary agendas relevant to promoting student success such as inclusive practice, curriculum change, first year transitions to higher education.