#LTHEchat 205: Spotlight on Educational Development

This week’s Host

Dr Jonny Johnston (@JonnyJohnston) is based in Academic Practice at Trinity College Dublin, where he works closely with academics and programme teams across Trinity to support excellence in teaching and learning. Jonny is a module coordinator for Trinity’s Special Purpose Certificate in Academic Practice and his current research and teaching interests sit in assessment, curriculum development, and teaching enhancement. His favourite boardgames include Ticket to Ride and Scrabble, and he is an absolutely appalling chess player. 

In a nutshell

Educational development (#EdDev)work, also called faculty development (#FacDev) or academic development (#AcDev), is often carried out at institutional boundaries (Gibbs, 2013). Boundaries between home and work physical and virtual campus infrastructure have become extremely porous for many of us in the last year.

Have the faultlines and border zones between different ‘regions’ of educational development activity been similarly affected by our mass crossing into virtual space?  

#LTHEchat 205 asks you to articulate what educational development means to you: what does #EdDev work ‘look’ like,  where does this work take place, and (why) does it matter? Colleagues with all sorts of roles related to teaching and learning are encouraged to join in this week’s chat and share ideas, practices, and (of course) share recommendations for biscuits for sustenance during marking season! 


There was a cracking session on ‘treasure island’ pedagogies (see the Wakelet for #LTHEChat #203 ) a couple of weeks ago that really got me thinking about terminology in a way I haven’t for a while – particularly in relation to rich metaphors like islands of disciplinary practice, sending messages in bottles, and thinking back to how we’ve all had to find new ways to navigate the stormy seas of professional practice under Covid-19 and chart a course to the end of the academic year.

Of course, I’m using all this nautical terminology to invoke images of adventure, space, and exploration as we try and map out a pathway back to our lives amid all the disruption. These are terms are purposefully not neutral – maps and mapping metaphors always bring up questions of power, agency, and ownership of space. I crossed into educational development by way of postcolonial literary and cultural studies and I’m always intrigued by how words can be used to emphasise or elide power dynamics within everyday terminology.

This week’s questions use ‘educational development’ as the most neutral term I could find to encourage as open a dialogue as possible during the #LTHEChat. I’m not keen on the titles of academic or faculty developer (exclusionary – what about graduate teaching assistants, other staff, or my own professional development that happens through dialogue with others); learning developers are more likely to be student-facing than staff-facing (with their own areas of expertise); and academic colleagues involved in Communities of Practice & pan-institutional learning communities (Cherrington, Macaskill, Salmon, Boniface, Shep, & Flutey, 2018) can have enormous educational development impact on peers and students alongside their formal remit as educators. 

#LTHEChat205 looks back at what educational development has meant to you over the last year and asks: what next? 

See also:

Cherrington, S., Macaskill, A., Salmon, R., Boniface, S., Shep, S., Flutey, J. 2018. Developing a pan-university professional learning community. International Journal for Academic Development 23, 298–311. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2017.1399271

Hamilton, B. & Graniero, P.A. (2012) Disruptive cartography in academic development, International Journal for Academic Development, 17:3, 243-258. DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2012.700894

Gibbs, G. (2013). Reflections on the changing nature of educational development. International Journal for Academic Development 18:1, 4 – 14. 


You can revisit this TweetChat via its Wakelet

#LTHEchat 205: Questions

Q1 – What does educational development (#EdDev / #AcDec / #FacDev) mean or look like to you?

Q2 –  Think back a bit: how would you describe your relationship with educational development in February 2020? (e.g. pre-pandemic!)

Q3 – Do you think perceptions of educational development work have changed in your context since then? Why/why not?

Q4 – Who ‘does’ #EdDev in your own institution/context and where do they ‘sit’ on the institutional map?

Q5 – How might you identify, prove, or evidence the impact of educational development activity  

Q6 – What do you see as the biggest opportunities/challenges for your own development for the next academic year?

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