I am delighted to introduce the authors of our new book: A Complete Guide to the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training. Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray and Tina Richardson have written the book in record time to a gruelling schedule so that it is available for the start of the new qualification this month. Here, Sandra shares some thought about the similarities between collaborative writing and some key teaching and learning strategies.
Our new text A Complete Guide to the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training (Further Education) covers the full span of skills and knowledge required to teach in the FE sector. The choice of topics for this supporting blog post was therefore extensive and led us to consider blogging about one of the many topics that the book examines in detail, perhaps roles and responsibilities; inclusive practice; communication or assessment?
What we decided though, was to take a slightly different approach and share our experience of working with each other to provide an insight into the practical applications of several key teaching concepts, our written notions of collaboration, communication and shared learning.
Our discussion must start with the unexciting news of the lack of any discord in our partnership. Alas there were no infights, power struggles or temper tantrums, and the result was a particularly civilised affair. In part, of course, this was due to us all being extremely nice people, in part, however, it was because we drew upon a range of key ideas represented in the book as being important within teaching and learning environments to support our collaboration; for example, communication and shared learning.
We found the use of new and emerging technologies essential to our collaboration. Email was an excellent way of sharing initial ideas, though we knew that if we were working both individually and collaboratively on different chapters, emailing across different versions of different chapters could prove cumbersome and confusing. This is where file sharing applications came to the fore. By using a web site that allowed us to upload different chapters and resources, we could easily access each other’s work, providing feedback and making revisions as necessary. You may find this a useful activity for your learners – perhaps setting them a collaborative task and allowing them to use a file sharing Web site, for example Dropbox or Google Docs, to enable them to develop their own communication, ICT, negotiation and wider skills.
Of course, we still had a need for meetings and human contact was essential in order that we maintained our sanity. We made sure that for all of our meetings we planned what we wanted to discuss and focused our time accordingly. You will find that this is the case when teaching in FE. You will of course need to develop your own skills in working autonomously, but you will find you have meetings for a range of purposes: perhaps meeting with learners to discuss progress; meeting with colleagues to discuss and share good practice; or meetings with management to discuss your course results. Even if your meetings are not formal and have no specific agenda you should be clear, with those involved, as to the focus and goals of the meeting. This way you will get the best out of it.
We hope that this brief post has started you thinking further about your own professional skills and has given you a taste of some of the key topics in our book. We therefore wish you well in what will no doubt prove to be an exciting and rewarding career.
Sandra Murray – September 2013