Welcome to this first edition of the new SEDA magazine, Educational Developments. Our hopes for the magazine are that it will grow over time into a thought provoking and informative source for those engaged in the process of change in higher education.

Educational development has established itself both as a distinctive professional area within higher education and as an approach to improving the quality of the student learning experience through the actions of individuals, departments and institutions. However, these actions do not occur within a vacuum and increasingly the national and international policy context impinges on the previously largely autonomous activities of many of us.

This first edition reflects the diversity of our constituency and the pressures or challenges facing them – in the classroom, at an institutional or policy level, and in our growing international presence. We lead with Graham Gibbs’ keynote from the last SEDA educational developers’ conference in which, having outlined the English Funding Council’s support for institutional learning and teaching strategies, he provides a particularly challenging view of the possible nature of educational development five years’ hence. Graham’s vision is of a mainstream, more devolved, more accountable and strategic approach to supporting institutional aims and policies. Any such shift from working with individuals to supporting organisational development would be very uncomfortable for some but it would certainly put us at the centre of the action in the current educational climate.

Patricia Weeks also provides some challenges for us as an organisation in terms of supporting and assessing development work, including the Fellowships scheme, at a distance; involving non-UK members more in committees and the Executive; and participation in other activities such as conferences, networks or joint research activities. The technology is there; we just need to see how to use it more to achieve Patricia’s view of the ‘global SEDA community’.

Increasingly the work of educational developers is involved with establishing and managing projects under funded initiatives. Carole and David Baume provide a useful guide to some of the current initiatives. We will return to other areas in future editions.

Brian Smith and Jennifer Rowley give us some personal viewpoints and ideas on teaching and learning, and the supervision of undergraduate dissertations. A challenge for those interested in educational developments is to consider the implications of these articles for other delivery modes and different contexts within higher education. In addition to the usual book reviews, we are also looking to review other learning resources and Stephen Bostock provides a first input with his review of Virtual Learning Environments.

This magazine is the result of a merger of the SEDA Newsletter and The New Academic, though with a particular emphasis on the work of ‘educational developers’. As such, we make no apologies for the more ‘newsy’ content as it does reflect what is going on in our community at the moment.

We hope you find enough to interest you in this first edition. Please let us know if we are addressing the interests, concerns and needs of ‘educational developers’ in the widest sense. What might we be missing? We do want to represent our membership and the increasing numbers who make use of our services and take part in our activities. To do this we need your contributions.

Ranald Macdonald FSEDA , Co-Chair, SEDA  and James Wisdom , Co-ordinator, Publications


This issue contains articles on:

Learning and Teaching Strategies: the implications for educational development 
Professor Graham Gibbs, Director of Research, Centre for Higher Education Practice, The Open University

When Good Teaching Becomes Outstanding … The Pursuit of Excellence 
Dr Brian Smith, Physics Department, Sussex University

A Personal Response to “SEDA Goes Global” 
Dr Patricia Weeks FSEDA, Educational Designer, Multimedia Unit, Griffith University

A Developer’s Guide to Major National Initiatives Introduction and Part One – HEFCE
Carole Baume FSEDA, Director of the National Co-ordination Team for FDTL and TLTP, Centre for Higher Education Practice, The Open University, and David Baume FSEDA, Director of Courses, Centre for Higher Education Practice, The Open University

Thirteen Tips for Successful Supervision of Undergraduate Dissertations 
Professor Jennifer Rowley, School of Management and Social
Sciences, Edge Hill University College

A Review of Virtual Learning Environments 
Dr Stephen Bostock FSEDA, Department of Computer Science, Keele University

Dear Vice Chancellor 
Richard and Christine Grover, School of Real Estate Management, Oxford Brookes University