In the Faculty PLNNET project we are beginning to explore how Faculty Professional Learning and Knowledge Networks can enhance teaching and learning at VIU in two complementary ways:

  • develop student capability to engage in professional learning through knowledge networks, and
  • enable faculty to advance their teaching activities ‒ and student learning ‒ by participation in knowledge networks for teaching with other faculty in their subject areas.

The primary goal of the project is to focus attention on the student-centred trajectories needed for progression from “students ready to learn at university” to “professionals ready to work (and learn in their career contexts)”. In a nutshell, if we are still teaching students in 4th year in the same way that we teach 1st year students – then we are not likely to achieve the VIU Academic Plan goal of “professionals ready for knowledge work & personal learning responsibility” (or else our 1st year students are really exceptional!).

A secondary goal of the project is to follow the “how we teach is a key part of what we teach” principle, by engaging faculty in the kinds of professional learning in knowledge networks that we anticipate for our graduates. We have some examples of faculty networks for teaching knowledge available in your subject area, and some initial thoughts about how to help faculty translate their professional learning experiences in such networks into more effective designs for student learning…and more sharing with students about how our own professional learning and knowledge work as teachers illustrates the capabilities we seek to foster in them.

The principle that “how we teach is a key part of what we teach”, which I first encountered in Parker Palmer’s wonderful book The Courage to Teach, led me into exploration of how our engagement with knowledge in our teaching practice can be exemplary for students’ own engagements with knowledge in their careers as practitioners…in nursing, education, management, science, government and the not-for-profit sector (as well as in the their roles as community members and global citizens).

For example, if I am advocating for evidence-practice in nursing, how do I demonstrate my commitment via evidence-based teaching practice in the classroom? If I am presenting in a management clas on the use of ‘big data’ for analytics on use of an online system for e-commerce, how can I use examples from use of learning analytics in our learning management system to better support student learning? If I am encouraging pre-service teachers to apply research results to customize instruction for student needs, how can I demonstrate this with my own instructional designs within our own classes in Education?