Nurturing Educators and Fostering Collaboration in the Evolving Landscape of Education
In the dynamic world of education, teachers are constantly striving to provide the best learning experiences for their students. Equally important is to create an environment that nurtures teachers’ professional development and fosters collaboration. At Navitas, teachers have a robust network of support, providing opportunities for professional development on latest educational trends and championing collaboration. Contributing to a thriving educational community that nurtures both personal and professional growth are the Teachers’ Lounge for University Partnerships Australasia (UPA) academic staff, and the highly interactive Generative AI Toolkit available to all Navitas staff globally.
Teachers’ Lounge (University Partnerships Australasia)
In accordance with the TEQSA Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Guidance Note (2022), educators have a fundamental requirement of active and regular engagement in professional development activities. Within this framework, the concept of scholarship encompasses activities that revolve around the pursuit of new or improved understanding, as well as the appreciation of and insights into a specific field of knowledge, while engaging with and staying up to date with the ongoing advancements within that field.
This critical aspect underscores not only the importance of educators participating in continuous learning experiences but also their responsibility to rigorously examine and apply the insights gleaned from these experiences to enrich their teaching practices. Furthermore, the TEQSA SoTL framework encourages educators to share the knowledge they acquire, and the pedagogical innovations they develop with their colleagues, and the wider educational community. In doing so, it fosters a culture of collaborative learning, and facilitates a pathway to continuous improvement within the higher education sector.
The UPA Teachers’ Lounge was created as a gathering spot where educators from all UPA colleges can come together to engage in meaningful conversations about teaching and learning and connect with colleagues. It prioritises the creation and maintenance of a welcoming environment, aiming to break down geographical barriers, foster collaboration, and enhance teaching practices that will ultimately improve the student learning experience.
Currently consisting of 217 members (and counting!), co-led by three UPA teachers, and supported by L&T Services, UPA teachers have access to:
- Roundtable discussions – led by teachers to engage in conversations on a variety of higher education related topics, action research, cross-disciplinary discussions, feedback on upcoming presentations, sharing of best practice and more.
- Discipline specific channels – for discussions and sharing of resources specific to a particular discipline.
- Upcoming professional development opportunities – to help increase staff awareness of Navitas supported professional development offerings, assisting with PD planning, preferences, and time management.
- Networking opportunities – collaborating and conducting research with fellow colleagues across Australasia.
- A toolkit of higher education teaching resources – turning theory into action!
Giving teachers a voice, an upcoming Roundtable Discussion session centres around the importance of embedding Indigenous perspectives in our lessons.
Generative AI Toolkit (Global)
In late November last year, social media and news sites lit up with the news of an apparently groundbreaking new technology. OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT had landed.
Generative AI had been available to those in the know for years, but suddenly, these powerful, sophisticated models were freely available to the masses. Teachers and students now had a research assistant, translator, virtual tutor, editor, and proofreader at their fingertips. More concerningly for educators, students now also had access to an AI system that could complete many of their assessments for them, and not just pass the tasks, but excel at them.
The affordances of the technology were clear even from those early days. What was also clear was that however powerful ChatGPT might appear, it was not without its limitations, risks, and ethical uncertainties. In those early days, teachers and students alike grappled with a myriad of questions about how ChatGPT and AI models like it function, and how they might change higher education, for the better or worse.
As educators at Navitas colleges, we’ve embarked on challenging journey. We’ve sought to understand neural networks, explored the impact of hallucinations and black boxes on the accuracy and transparency of generative AI outputs, questioned the reliability of the Turnitin AI detector, and pondered assessment security, validity, and redesign. All these efforts sought to help us answer a fundamental question: “How can we support our students to engage with generative AI critically and ethically?”
Today, we still don’t have all the answers, but thanks to the efforts of our colleagues across Navitas (and some outside it), we have met the challenges head on, and forged a path forward. At the heart of this approach has been collaboration and a shared commitment to doing the best we can by our students.
A cornerstone of this strategy has been Learning and Teaching UPA’s Generative AI Toolkit, a community where educators from across Navitas can come together, regardless of their college, division, or discipline to share expertise, strategies, challenges, and insights, and access a repository of high quality, curated strategies and resources.
As educators, we inherently understand that learning is a social activity. Similarly, literature increasingly recognises the value of a social, interactive, and collaborative approach to generative AI, for both educators and students. As Eager and Brunton (2023) note, “Educators are in a prime position to assist students in navigating the use of AI tools and ensuring that students comprehend the purpose and relevance of AI-generated content in their learning journey. However, it is important to note that the process of imparting AI literacies to students begins with the development of these literacies among educators.” (p. 3)”
For the Learning and Teaching team, supporting our educators to develop these key literacies and capabilities is crucial, and represents the underlying philosophy guiding our community.
Currently consisting of 277 members from across Navitas globally, teachers have access to:
- Resources, guidelines, and the latest generative AI news: No single person can be across all the news and updates emerging from the AI in education space. A collaborative, shared approach means we can pool our collective knowledge, with the Toolkit acting as a centralised hub.
- Opportunities for professional development: 2023 has seen a flurry of professional development opportunities centred on generative AI hosted for, and by our members. We’ve come together to learn about and discuss AI literacy, prompt engineering, navigating AI detectors, developing generative AI student guidelines, and more.
- A collaborative space for engaging with colleagues and sharing insights and strategies: Discussion is at the heart of any successful online community and the Generative AI Toolkit is no exception. Our discussion channels provide a welcoming, open platform where educators can seek advice, share challenges and successes, and come together to meet the challenges posed by generative AI.
Our communities don’t exist without their members and their active participation. Thanks to our educators who enthusiastically drive our communities through their passion, dedication, and collegiality, we are able to come together to approach today’s educational challenges and opportunities critically and creatively.
For more information on how these communities operate, or for opportunities to join or co-lead sessions within these communities, contact email@example.com.
Eager, B., & Brunton, R. (2023). Prompting Higher Education Towards AI-Augmented Teaching and Learning Practice. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 20(5). https://doi.org/10.53761/1.20.5.02
TEQSA (2022). Guidance note: Scholarship. Retrieved from https://www.teqsa.gov.au/guides-resources/resources/guidance-notes/guidance-note-scholarship