When Dame Jane Goodall visited Macquarie University on the occasion of speaking on the Compassionate Leadership and Effective Advocacy day, I was fortunate to see her in action. Her work was groundbreaking, not only for deepening our understanding of primates, but also for women in leadership positions. As a panel member she inspired her audience deeply, immersing everybody in the theater with what she said and how she said it.

I was so intrigued that I recorded parts of her talk on my phone, and listened up when she mentioned the word “change”.

This blog post is for our Learning and Teaching newsletter and you might ask yourself, why do I write about Jane Goodall?

Disregarding that the only constant is change, as Learning Designers we became over the years more and more change agents. All these swirling words in HE, Bologna, student centered teaching, co-created learning, enhancing students’ journey, blended, online, flipped, LMS, ALP, wow, how can we keep up with all this change?

The University sector in countries world wide continue to change at an increasingly hectic rate.

Biggs &Tang (2012) p.3

Biggs and Tang dedicate their first chapter in their book ” Teaching for Quality Learning at University” (2012) to the changing scene in university teaching.

So, how can we all address this hectic change?

First of all, you listen to them – hear what they have to say, maybe they got an angle on a situation you have never thought of”.

Dame Jane Goodall

Following this concept of listening with empathy, we conducted last year interviews with some of our L&T directors, leading to astonishing results we slowly transfer and implement. We also use the interview approach for the needs analyses to prepare for multiple DDI (Design, Develop, Implement) workshops.

When it comes to Unit Design for the 2020 CA which requires our mind shift to make constructive alignment our organising principle, when we put the actions of our students in the center of their learning, we are invited to allow ourselves this change. Step-by-step we shift the focus from us as content experts to being knowledgeable “tourguides” of the students’ journey to enhance their learning experience.

“Constructive alignment is an outcome-based approach to teaching in which the learning outcomes that students achieve are defined before teaching takes place. Teaching and assessment methods are then designed to best achieve those outcomes and to assess the standard at which they have been achieved.” (Biggs, 2014, p.3) Biggs, J. (2014). Constructive alignment in University teaching, HERDSA Review of Higher Education Vol.1, p.5-22, viewed 7.6.2019

I’d like to issue a Call-to-Action:

Let’s take Dame Jane Goodall’s words as encouragement for academics and learning designers to embrace change, to trust, listen and care, and for all of us to soldier on as change agents in Higher Education with Dame Jane Goodall’s perseverance and courage.

Posted by Bettina Pfaendner

Bettina is a creative mind, lecturer for film and television, media and communication, and a Learning Designer by heart. What is more fulfilling than helping others to learn!

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