Special issue


We share lessons gained through supporting an institution-wide curriculum innovation via a post-graduate professional learning program. At the inception of the innovation, an intensive Block Model (BM) was unfamiliar to both the institution and its professional learning facilitators. The Graduate Certificate of Tertiary Education was re-modelled with BM as the heart of professional learning so academics would encounter BM as students. The program modelled BM principles, reinforced by meta-conversations to provide students with a reflective, immersive experience. Through a participatory evaluation, professional learning facilitators’ individual reflections were distilled to generate collaborative insights into academics’ capacity building for BM. Their lessons inform strategies to cultivate institution-wide capability-building including their own professional growth. Lessons shape the study recommendations. Recommendations originate from effectively engaging time-poor, diverse cohorts. (1) In recognition of the ease with which students can fall behind, embedding strategies to manage their time and stress helps to maintain a realistic study pace. (2) Authentic assessments provide students with useful products for their teaching. (3) Peer-feedback and examples of students’ work exposes them to how their colleagues present their work and illustrates good BM practices. (4) Modelling BM principles must be reinforced by meta-conversations to provide students with a reflective, immersive experience of the pedagogical principals. We observed that well planned efficiencies for students often provide consequent efficiencies for staff. These insights are captured in a model for scalable institutional-based professional learning practice. Capability growth flourishes at the intersection of action, reflection and evaluation. Professional collegial conversations are the catalyst for developing context-relevant professional learning.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Plan to embed PL in academics’ workplace practices prior to introducing a new curriculum or pedagogical approach (e.g. an intensive mode of study).
  2. Demonstrate authenticity within the PL by building a safe, respectful environment which balances authority, knowledge, and open sharing.
  3. Create spaces for ongoing professional conversations and reflective practice within the organisation to ensure that institutional priorities continue to inform evolution of PL practices.
  4. Leverage the power of reflection, particularly during the uncertainty of introducing an innovation.
  5. Capitalise on the value of modelling practices of innovation principles, and profiling. successful examples from early adopters.
  6. Be mindful of the potential cognitive load when introducing something new. Provide concurrent support to purposefully introduce new tools and technologies.