Our main article this quarter is Ranald Macdonald’s guide to the issues and sources for problem-based learning. We chose this as a topic because it has so many linkages with educational development practice, both in its pedagogic principles and in its implications for change. It is particularly interesting to relate this topic to the development of computing and information technology, because in that conjunction at last we might be seeing a pedagogy for our age.

When thinking of pedagogies for a previous age, we might consider the tenacity of what Michael Prosser and Keith Trigwell in Understanding Learning and Teaching: The Experience in Higher Education (1999, Buckingham: SRHE & Open University Press) have defined as the teacher-focused, information transmission approach to teaching, and its associated assessment of the taught course rather than the learned subject. As an approach it was given a boost when student numbers grew, though it was more of a reaction than a thought-through response, and the roosting chickens are now completely domesticated. Then, when the open and distance learning initiatives appeared, a common first step was to print up the lecture notes of the existing course. (Perhaps you remember hearing colleagues say that, while the schemes might have failed, at least the staff had to polish up their materials for more public consumption.) As each new piece of technology arrived, this old pedagogy grabbed it like an oxygen cylinder – better delivery mechanisms have kept it going, but in the end there is often disappointment.

As the shift towards the communications potential of C&IT gathers strength, and as the interest in virtual learning environments pulls course design into the centre of discussions, so it is hardly surprising that problem-based learning is being seen as one of the pedagogies which can best exploit the new technology. We would be interested in further articles on this theme from colleagues with work in progress.

Two other articles in this issue are taking forward themes from previous issues. Following Lorraine Stefani’s piece on the QAA Code of Practice on Disability in 1.4, and the article by Barbara Lloyd-Smith from the National Disability Team in 2.1, we have an example from Mike Blamires and Sarah Gee of a specific project on how to help colleagues support students with autism (or, more specifically, with a disorder on the autism spectrum).

As educational developers cannot avoid the discussions about quality, its assurance, its enhancement and its role as a totem of approval or threat, we welcome a contribution from Viv Martin, who crosses between education and the National Health Service and so can bring another perspective to what sometimes feels rather an inward-looking debate. Again, we would welcome further contributions in this area from our readers.

In the last issue we ran an article from Barry Jackson and Allan Davies on the experience of using the various Subject Centre web sites as a route into the educational developments within the disciplines. Please remember that Barry and Allan appealed to you, the readers, for further experiences, comments and discussion as this new development unfolds – to support a further article. They can be contacted on b.jackson@mdx.ac.uk and a.a.davies@linst.ac.uk.

As an organisation SEDA has never been strident in advertising its wares (too many educational developers know that ownership is like muck – best spread) but the article by Chris Rust in 1.4 on new developments in SEDA’s accreditation activities is becoming more significant as time passes. In it, he described the way that the Professional Development in Higher Education accreditation process will be developed to suit the varying needs of colleagues from all parts of the sector. The SEDA website will keep you informed of the latest developments. The initiatives from the HEFCE on Rewarding and Developing Staff and Developing Good Management Practice do offer opportunities to do valuable work here, and we would welcome discussion and articles from colleagues who are developing strategies and institutional responses in this area.

Educational Developments is still (in the language of HEFCE) “an emerging strategy” and we are grateful for the comments and feedback we have received. The greatest measure of success so far is the sentence “I photocopied the article for a workshop I had to run that afternoon” – though increasing your bulk order would be even more encouraging! The editorial group do genuinely welcome your contributions, and the technical details for this are printed on the back page. We are looking for “implications” pieces – around the question “What might the implications of this be for educational developers?” We also welcome guidelines pieces – an area for which you can set out guidelines for educational developers to bring them up to speed, often around the questions “What are the issues?” and “What are the sources?” And finally we enjoy publishing practice pieces – an account of something in practice from which other practitioners can directly learn. Please approach any of the editorial group with your ideas.

James Wisdom , Co-ordinator, Publications


This issue contains articles on:

Problem-Based Learning: implications for Educational Developers 
Ranald Macdonald FSEDA, Associate Head: Academic
Development, Learning and Teaching Institute, Sheffield Hallam University

Owning the Agenda for Quality 
Dr Vivien Martin FSEDA, Senior Lecturer in Management. The Open University

Developing Research in Learning and Teaching within Business and Management: a case study 
Dr Myra Hodgkinson, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University

Management and Staff Development with “Rewarding and Developing Staff in HE” – review of the SEDA one-day event 
Mike Cook FSEDA, Academic Staff Development Manager, University of Lincolnshire and Humberside

An Educational Developer’s Diary – Croatia 
David Baume FSEDA, Director of Teaching Development, Centre for Higher Education Practice, The Open University

Online Resources to Help Students Evaluate Online Resources 
Dr Stephen Bostock FSEDA, Department of Computer Science, Keele University

Large Student Groups: some simple techniques for monitoring marking 
Peter Cuthbert, Department of Business and Management Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University

AISHE Project 
Mike Blamires, Project Manager / Principal Lecturer, Sarah Gee, Project Assistant / Research Associate, Centre for Educational Research, Faculty of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University College

Dialogues: Quality 
David Baume FSEDA, Director of Teaching Development, Centre for Higher Education Practice, The Open University

SEDA Spring Conference 2001 – review 
John Peters, University College Worcester