Happy 30th Birthday, SEDA!

On May 19th 1993 SEDA was formed from a merger between the Standing Conference on Educational Development (SCED) and the Staff Development Group of the Society for Research into Higher Education SRHE SDG). Soon SEDA Scotland, Flexible Learning in Higher Education and the Association of Educational and Training Technology (which become the Learning Technology Group) linked with it. Also in 1993 SEDA was one of the founding associations of the International Consortium for Educational Development.

Over the last 30 years, SEDA has been at the forefront of activities, support, professional recognition and resources for those who lead and inspire change in higher education. Initially we worked mainly with those in formal ‘educational development’ roles but our SEDA community now embraces a wide range of colleagues working to improve learning and teaching in higher education including academics, learning technologists, librarians, learning developers, students and senior managers. To this end, we also have good relationships with other sector organisations such as ALT, Jisc, Advance HE and ALDinHE.

The nature of higher education has changed considerably in the last three decades with the introduction of fees, removal of the cap on student numbers and regulation through the Office for Students. SEDA has been a constant presence through these times of change and adapted its provision to ensure it remains up-to-date and relevant. This includes opportunities for sharing practice and networking through online and face-to-face events and communities of practice, the SEDA Fellowship Scheme for the professional recognition of those who support, lead and inspire educational change (and the soon-to-be-launched Student Partnership Impact Award), accreditation of courses through our Professional Development Framework, enabling scholarship through our grants and journal (Innovations in Education & Teaching International), other publications such as SEDA Specials, Papers, Focus, book series and our renown magazine Educational Developments.

As a charitable organisation, our mission is to enhance HE, through educational and professional development, for the benefit of students, staff and the wider public. SEDA does this by offering scholarly and accessible developmental resources and opportunities to everyone involved in positive educational change and innovation in HE.

We are also driven and guided by our underpinning Values:

  • Developing understanding of how people learn
  • Practising in ways that are scholarly, professional and ethical
  • Working with and developing learning communities
  • Valuing diversity and promoting inclusivity
  • Continually reflecting on practice to develop ourselves, others and processes.

Many of our activities are open access to enable the widest possible sharing, learning and development. In order to support our work as a charitable organisation we also encourage institutions and individuals to join SEDA as members which opens up further opportunities for networking, professional development through contributing to the work of SEDA (e.g. as committee members or at the AGM), resources and discounts on events and publications.

I have been involved with SEDA since I attended its December conference in 1996, an event which turned out to be a career-enhancing and -influencing experience a week into my first post-PhD job as manager for a HEFCE-funded project on Earth Science Staff Development. I’m delighted to be able to contribute back to an organisation that has given me so much over the years. I look forward to celebrating our 30th Birthday at our face-to-face conference on 19th May 2023 and to many more years working with and benefiting from the fabulous SEDA community.

Helen King is Professor & Director of Learning Innovation, Development & Skills at Bath Spa University and currently co-Chair of SEDA with Clare Saunders of St Mary’s University. She holds a Senior Fellowship of SEDA, a National Teaching Fellowship and is a Principal Fellow of the HEA. She also enjoys trail-running and playing Bluegrass banjo (though not at the same time!).


Twitter: @drhelenking

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drhelenking/

Online learner engagement and teaching-learning perceptions

COVID-19 struck suddenly, almost overnight. As lecturers adapted, we identified the need for research about online learning to optimise student learning, and to enhance lecturer practise. Throughout the unique two-plus years of the pandemic, preparedness for abrupt transitions from face-to-face to online has continued, and we still need to support students engaging in learning online. Th key to student engagement is not just their interest in the subject but also lecturer support, encouragement, and expertise in teaching online. These are all critical elements of active learning.

In this study, we examined the role of active learning of 219 online English-Mediated Instruction (EMI) learners from Liberal Arts, Sciences, and Languages majors to investigate factors that predict online learner engagement. Online learning can effectively encourage active learning without face-to-face classroom interaction. Our findings indicated teaching approach and lecturer preparedness are key factors for student engagement in the online environment. Unexpectedly, instructor’s encouraging of student participation was not found to be essential. Our study implied that during online learning students may not recall actively taking part in discussions, but they will perceive and remember lecturers’ organisation and warmth. Student engagement or active learning then, especially online, is associated with lecturer organisation and informative ongoing communication with students in the classroom.

Throughout the pandemic, lecturers and students will have not only adjusted to online learning but will have discovered richer and deeper online sources, not only of information and discussions of their class subjects, but also of support and interaction between lecturer and students, as well as between students. As in a face-to-face classroom, working and supporting relationships develop in online classrooms with the support and information from an organised and warm lecturer. Our study suggested that opening the online class early for salutations and small talk, and making a sincere effort to know and use students’ names, even in larger sized classes, are beneficial to students’ engagement and learning success.

Online learning is established and has opened up new ways of teaching and learning, as well as research needs. COVID-19 has strengthened the technology and pedagogy using that technology. As lecturers and students look forward to the waning of the pandemic and the return to the traditional classroom, the rich and in-depth resources of the internet still be mined and used constructively in the classroom. However, lecturers and students must be prepared, for the indefinite future, for sudden, well-organised, transition to a blended form of class.

Yvette Denise Murdoch, Department of English Education, College of Education, Hongik University (yvette@hongik.ac.kr), ROK. She has a profound professional and personal interest in contributing to the betterment of the English-Mediated Instruction and English preservice education teaching–learning environments.
Cherry Lee (Facebook)           Yvette Murdoch (LinkedIn)               Cherry Lee (Instagram)


Lim, H., Murdoch, Y. D., & Cho, J. 2021. Online EMI learner engagement and perceptions of teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, DOI:10.1080/14703297.2021.1905030