Autumn planning, future learning environments, merit system for skilled teachers and fickle April weather

Author: Maria Wiktorsson, KS Vicedekan/Universitetslektor

I know that we are now at a very busy time of the term. At the same time as spring term is running ahead at full speed, we also need to start planning for the autumn term. I hope that we can still find some time in the midst of all this to go outside and enjoy the light that has returned and the signs of spring that are all around us at this time.

Photo: Håkan Röjder

As you all know, we have a decision about the planning conditions for the autumn term. On March 15, the Vice-Chancellor decided that the University will open up for more campus teaching than during the spring, on condition that we can keep a distance in our buildings. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (prorektor) established guidelines to ensure this, and established priorities for activities in our buildings. More specific information about planning conditions for KS, including information about the faculty process and details about departmental deadlines etc. has been sent out by each department. As usual timetabling deadlines always appear to come too early, and I know it is a struggle to get everything together in time. I hope you have access to all relevant information and that the work with the autumn planning is progressing well.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that an investigation into our future learning environments has been ongoing. The investigation was requested by the Vice-Chancellor and the aim was to investigate how our experiences of digitalization during the pandemic can inform decisions about the kinds of learning environments we need for the future. The work also included surveying relevant research into different kinds of learning forms, both in general and during the pandemic, and both from within Malmo university and from other parts of the world. As part of the process, different possible future scenarios for learning have also been discussed in the Educational Advisory Board (Beredningen för Utbildning) as well as in focus groups of teachers and students at Malmö university. In a preliminary report from this investigation, the overall conclusion is that Malmö university should continue to develop learning environments both for campus teaching and for digital teaching. And that both pedagogy and infrastructure (including new types of teaching rooms) need to be developed to allow for more digital forms in different types of educations in the future.

As stated above future learning environments is one theme that has been discussed this spring in the Educational Advisory Board (Beredningen för Utbildning). The Educational Advisory Board is a university level advisory board for issues related to education at undergraduate and advanced level. In our last meeting on April 6, we discussed pedagogical competence and development from the perspective of academic career paths. Clear and transparent academic career paths are identified in Strategy 2022 as vital for recruiting and retaining staff with a high level of competence. Work in this area has already resulted in the new Appointment Rules at Malmö University (Anställningsordning) which set the foundation for academic career paths at Malmö University. The new Guidelines for the appointment of associate professors (Riktlinjer för antagning av docent) specify the qualifications for the title of associate professor (docent). But more work is under way to complete the system of academic career paths. An updated Qualifications portfolio (Meritportfölj) is being developed to better support transparency in evaluating relevant experiences and skills. And in order to promote pedagogical skills a new model for recognizing pedagogical competence is being developed. The suggestion is to introduce a merit system where skilled teachers can apply to have their teaching qualifications evaluated and be awarded a level of pedagogical distinction. The work is still in progress but the suggestion has good potential to raise the status of staff with a strong pedagogical portfolio, and this is of course also positive from the perspective of quality in education.

Take care, and do try to find some time to enjoy spring. Even though the unreliable April weather makes it difficult to know whether to wear sun glasses, a rain coat or your winter boots.

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